In 1982, Suzuki began development of what would become a total game-changer of a sportbike and the first bonafide Japanese race-replica. Dubbed the GSX-R750, the new road-legal track weapon was unlike anything that had come before it. It was crazy lightweight, brimming with componentry previously only seen on race machines, fast as hell, and sold at a shockingly affordable price. But the tale of the Suzuki’s race-bred bikes and the first Gixxer began in the 1950s.
The manufacturer actually started out as Suzuki Loom Works, but in 1954 officially incorporated Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd. At the time motorcycles were becoming increasingly big business in Japan, and with more than 200 motorcycle companies on the island in the late 1950s, distinguishing itself from the completion was a must. So Suzuki did what all great marques have done to prove their worth; they went racing.
In 1955 the brand debuted its first true motorcycle, the 125cc two-stroke Colleda. It then set its sights on the famous Mt. Asama Volcano Race, a grueling 14-lap 80-mile event, and at the time the biggest race in Japan. In preparation for the 1959 race, Suzuki had eleven mechanics and four test riders spend 12 weeks living in a small wooden shack on the mountain. Suzuki didn’t win the race, hell, only one of the five bikes it entered even finished. Suzuki did, however, manage to set the fastest lap time of the entire race, proving the Hamamatsu firm had serious potential.
Fast-forward another two-decades and Suzuki had continued to refine its machines, both for the street and the track. Suzuki was looking to develop a winning four-stroke model, and as per usual turned to its race program for the answers. Using lessons learned from experience in TT-F1 and Endurance efforts, the blueprints for a new 750 began to emerge. For the frame, Suzuki designed a trick aluminum-alloy double-cradle perimeter frame derived from the RG250 Gamma’s chassis. Narrow and rigid, the new frame weighed come to 20 lbs less than the conventional steel units of the day.
Less than a year after the initial release of the GSX-R, Suzuki unveiled an even more hardcore, track-oriented version of the watershed model with the GSX-R750 Limited Edition. In order to qualify for AMA Superbike competition, Suzuki produced a total of 199 LE-spec Gixxers for the US market in 1986. At approximately two-grand more than the base model, the LE carried an MSRP of $6,499, making it the most expensive Japanese sportbike offering upon its release.
Separating the LE from the standard 750 was a revised suspension setup using GSX-R1100-spec 41mm forks equipped with Suzuki’s NEAS (New Electronically-Activated Suspension), and an aluminum-bodied remote reservoir mono-shock with an aluminum full floater linkage. Stopping power was bolstered via anti-dive full-floating 310mm rotors and dual-opposed piston calipers. The swing-arm on the LE was also stretched by an inch (25mm) for improved stability and a steering damper was added as a standard item.
Quite possibly the biggest highlight on the new model, however, was its super trick dry clutch, which was married to a close-ratio six-speed gearbox. Replacing the base model’s wet-plate setup, the new dry clutch came paired with an adjustable clutch lever.
The Limited Edition models were also distinguished from the standard version via its special race-inspired livery. Instead of the base model’s white and blue or black and red colors, the LE featured a red, white, and blue scheme complete with “LIMITED EDITION” graphics on the tail. The wheels were also adorned in a matching blue, the chain was gold-plated, and the engine received a special “gun-coat” finish.
The LE also tipped the scales at 6lbs less than the already lightweight base model. The weight savings were made possible through the use of lightweight bodywork, such as a solo tail cowl with quick-release fasteners. There were also some very minor elements differentiating the LE such as slightly wider clip-ons and amber halogen headlights.
The GSX-R’s lightweight aluminum chassis allowed for incredibly sharp performance, however, the structure was prone to irreparable damage in the event of a crash. And with many of the 199 units in the US having been raced — not to mention the surprisingly large number of specimens exported out of the US – finding surviving ’86 LE examples is wildly difficult – let alone a clean, low-mile specimen.
Despite their scarcity, today we’re offering a glorious 1986 GSX-R750 Limited Edition with near-pristine bodywork and just over 10,000 original miles on the odometer. It’s also been given a Yoshimura exhaust and a Yoshimura sticker on both side fairings. As it has been on display in the famed “Vault” at our headquarters in Marina del Rey, California for a while, we expect that the carbs may need a little bit of attention – but that’s something our White Glove service can have taken for you very quickly.
Imperfections to note are a lightly-rusted kickstand, some scratches on the Yoshimura exhaust, and an incorrect chain guard – however the owner has sourced a very near to OEM replica made from a colleague in Canada that will be included in the sale. The paint and decals are immaculate, and there’s not so much as even a scratch present. This is a rolling piece of near-unobtanium that continues to steadily appreciate in value. There’s something undeniably magical about all the early Gixxers, but the LE-spec is the holy grail of GSX-R750s.
Photos by Nathan May.