Okay, so I got to go from my VTR to Murray's GSX-R and back again in one little ride, so what's the difference? What do I think? Well it was a pretty quiet little potter on the GSX-R but it was definitely nice to ride her again.
Firstly the riding position: they are both quite similar in that they have that sport's bike crouch but the on the GSX-R this is more pronounced and your feet are much higher and the bars are a bit lower. To me this makes the VTR just that little more comfortable and the better bike for longer distance rides - not something that either of them are really designed for.
What about the donks? Well, obviously this is where the differ the most. The VTR with it's 110hp V-twin and the GSX-R with it's larger 4 cylinder breathing with the aid of Yoshimura jets & headers and bellowing out of one of Brendon's Pro-muff mufflers - you've gotta be looking at somewhere around 140hp I guess. The GSX-R also makes do with one gear less than the VTR and is designed to be revved a bit more than the twin.
Surprisingly though the GSX-R motor is very well mannered - she didn't feel like she was going to bite even with a few revs on the dial but definitely sounded the part - gotta love that sound especially on more aggressive down changes. Cruising along at about the speed limit the bike also feels like it's going faster than at the same speed on the VTR. I put this down to the more buzzy motor (more explosions happening than on the VTR) and perhaps the difference in rider protection offered by the windshield. Not a bad thing - helps stop the speeding when it's perhaps not the place for it...
Cruising along the GSX-R feels every bit of the extra 30-40kg it has over the VTR but this is not a bad thing. I'm now pretty used to riding heavy beasts and they tend to feel a lot more planted on the road. This extra weight and what is probably better suspension than the VTR would probably make the GSX-R better behaved in bumpy corners and also perhaps a bit safer in the wet. Overall it felt great motoring down the road and was a lot of fun to ride.
Looks? Well, judge for yourself but personally I like the look of both of them but think that the GSX-R is showing it's age very gracefully and is still a great looking bike. I'd also have to say it's a better looking bike than the newer GSX-R1000's and Murray has truly kept this one in as new condition.
So would I have one? Well, if I was a zillionaire with a big shed (or sheds) it'd be great to own a truly classic superbike but I'm not and can only just justify the two I've got now. So if I could have had the VTR or the GSX-R for the same money? A tricky question but I think I would still have taken the VTR. Already having a four in the shed it is really nice to have something else which is totally different and that v-twin just puts a big smile on your dial!