Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Suzuki GT750

Wed, January 27th, 2010

Featuring a different two-stroke street bike each day.

1972-77 Suzuki GT750
The GT750 'Water Buffalo' ('Kettle' in Britain) was the first water-cooled production bike motor of the modern age, and a decidedly 'un-two-stroke-like' mill. It gained a reputation as stodgy and sedate, due to obvious comparisons to the peaky, razor-edged powerband of Kawasaki's 750 2-stroke triple. But the GT750 made just about the same horsepower as Honda's SOHC CB750 and even more torque, at lower speeds. The overweight chassis hurt the GT's performance more than the motor. It's a smooth, reliable, fun powerplant that's more thumper than ring-ding.
GTs handled poorly when new and got worse as chassis parts wore. The bike's weight overwhelmed the chassis. Everything flexed: the skinny 35mm forks, the swingarm, the frame. The bike's mass also easily overwhelmed original 1972 model's massive 4LS drum brake. The later twin discs worked much better.
There is an undeniable charm to the engine's somewhat bizarre shape. The original 1972 'Buck Rogers' styling was toned down a bit each year, until the final version for '77 looked downright conventional, perhaps even conservative.
The GT750 was perhaps the most reliable bike of its decade, bar none. Unfortunately, that's getting to be a long, long time ago.
Comfort and smooth, compliant, bulletproof power made it a great tourer in its day. Today's big tourers and cruisers make it seem much less massive as it once did. But vague, imprecise handling, poor fuel economy and awkward slow-speed manners make it more of an interesting museum piece than useful transport.
A torquey, water-cooled 2-stroke triple may seem wacky today, but in truth it was wacky even back then, too. Water Buffalos (especially the later, better performing, more attractive ones) were never as common as other bikes of their era. Fortunately, since they never broke, plenty are still around.
Despite its limitations, it will always be cool, like James Brown and Apollo astronauts.