Thursday, January 5, 2012

'82-'83 Suzuki Katana

If there is another bike I would trade the Fj for besides the VF1000R it would be Suzuki's original Katana. The styling of this bike is always been a love, hate affair for most, guess what side of the argument you'll find me on. Originally Hans Muth of target design drew up the design for MV Agusta, they were not crazy about it and a modified version found a home at Suzuki. It only sold for two years here in the States and are scarce as hens teeth. They loved the design so much in Japan, it rolled off the assembly line until 2000. The first incarnation was the GS1000S Katana, You could have it in 1000 or 1100cc flavors depending on you country of origin. the specs for this bike are as follows, Overall Length: 2 260 mm (89.0 in)
Overall Width: 715 mm (28.1 in)
Overall Height: 1 195 mm (47.0 in)
Seat Height: 775 mm (30.5 in)
Ground Clearance: 175 mm (6.9 in)
Wheelbase 1 520 mm (59.8 in)
Dry Weight: 232 kg (511 lbs)
Engine type: Air-cooled 998 cc inline-4,
DOHC, 16 valves. 108 hp/ 8,500 rpm, 9,3 kg-m/ 6,500 rpm.
It had my eyes poppin' out of my head the first time I saw one. There was an '83 model for sale in the Columbus Ohio area two years ago. I'm still kicking myself in the ass over that bike as it was only three grand and an original unmolested bike in pristine condition. Suzuki for '83 added a blue racing stripe down the tank, but still sported that hair raising body work.
While I keep my eye out for an nice example to pop up in my gun sites, the only ones of late have carried a hefty tariff. last fall a fellow in the Chicago area was asking eight grand for his SV model. I bit steep by my standards, the ad has been taken down so it may have been worth that sum to somebody or simply had no takers.

I just recived the latest issue of Practical Sports bikes and found they had the Katana as the bike of choice for their 5 best section. Every month, they do a profile on five classic sports bikes that the lucky owners have modified to suite their individual taste. The number one choice among the editors topped my own personal list. It is owned by a gent named of Steve Adams. He bought it as a basket case and gave it what I like to call the "resto-mod" treatment. He has sold off the bits he didn't want and went about adding a raft of modern hardware in it's stead. He was going to use a 1200cc mill from a bandit, but used a 1000cc unit punched out to 1170cc. Topped it off with standard valves, GSX1100EFE cams and had the heads flowed. Chose a set of 37mm keihin smooth bores to do the breathing. A generous friend dropped a set of Dymag wheels in his lap. So to hold them to the bike he fitted a 1200 bandit swingarm suspended by a set of Ohlins piggy back shocks. Went with GSX-R750 K4 forks fitted into a Fireblade yoke. Bringing the party to a stop is a set of 320mm front discs sourced from a 1200 Bandit, squeezed by a set of 4 piston radial calipers yanked off a '04 R1. I sniped these photos from
Mixed all together makes my breathing shallow, beads of perspiration form on my fore head and I have to take a seat because I'm light headed. If I got within ten feet of this bike I would probably need CPR or have my heart restarted with a defibrillator. I am a true fan of attention to detail and the less is more philosophy. Mr. Adams more than achieved this with his master piece of a Katana, well done sir.


Richard said...

I have always loved the true Katana styling as well, I say 'true' because in some markets the name was applied to the cooking GSX750F - a capable but dull sports-tourer. I owned one (the F) and the Haynes manual referred to it as a Katana. Nothing like, of course. I seem to remember that we had two flavours in the UK - a 550 and an 1100 - but that could be misty-eyed memory working overtime.

Razor-sharp styling and by all reports decent handling too. Yup, a proper rideable classic.

Gymi said...

Hi Richard, been awhile, Hope you and yours had a great holiday season.

I feel the same way, the Hans Muth design is the true Katana to me as well. They also sold a GS650G Katana here for '82 and '83 I believe. It had a decidedly softer edge to it employing a shaft drive and a traditional riding position. I think it is even rarer than the 1000 and 1100 models, the only one I ever saw in person was at a motorcycle show.

Suzuki started selling the faux Katanas in the states in 600, 750 and 1100cc versions starting in '88 if memory serves. Out of the three, the 1100 was the only model worth a look. I haven't the pleasure myself, but am told it made for an excellent sport touring platform. Of the three models, I think the 600 is the only one still in production. If not I’m sure some one will straiten me out as I'm nowhere near an authority on Suzuki models.

I sure would like to get my hands on a “true” Katana though. It looks just as good, if not better to me as it did thirty years ago.

Richard said...

Looks like Suzuki have been a bit promiscuous with the Katana name! I'm pretty sure that a Katana was a Samurai sword, and the name reflected the sharp styling of the 'genuine' Katana. Perhaps they felt the name had such an aura (and it sis) that they could apply it to the duller offerings to make them seem more exciting.

The rounded styling of the (UK) 600/750/110 (known as GSxxxF here) was rather dull. We know them as the 'teapots' from the swirly bodywork. The 'G' models, such as the dull-but-worthy GS850G shaftie, were different again - upright tourers, heavy and robust. About all they shared was that amazing engine: still in demand by the tuners, apparently.

There's a good article in Wikipedia, although the author seems about as confused as we are! It looks as though the 'true' Katana (the Target design) was the early one, and that the name was applied indiscriminately later on - even to a 50cc scooter in latter years. The shame!

By the way, the GSX750F was not a bad bike at all. Although visually dull and a little odd, it went well and never gave me a moment's trouble, so for me it was a good bike, if not an exceptional one - about 7/10.

(Tech note: your site renders in my browser with black text on a dark grey background, and is very hard for my old eyes to read - I have to highlight the text to read it. Maybe just me.)

Hope you had a great Christmas and all the best for 2012.

Richard said...

"and it sis" = and it did. Sorry!

Gymi said...

The Katana was indeed a Samurai sword. So the name truly goes with the styling and performance of the original bike. Not so much with the latter versions. They were quite a bit "softer" and more suited to touring and being good all arounders as it were. They carry the GSX designation on this side of the Atlantic as well. The “G” goes with all the Suzuki shafties in the states too. I’ll take your word on the 750F, with all the riding you have done, you are more than qualified to judge a bike on it’s merits in my book. Thanks for the heads up on the blog background, I will set about applying a lighter shade to it.

Besides the broken foot, my family had a fantastic Christmas and are looking forward to the coming year.

Richard said...

Background - thanks! Much better for my old eyes.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Glad you like my Katana! I happened upon your site while doing some background research on Yamahas TRX850. Thanks for the glowing write up, the Kat was a real labour of love and I have to say I don't think I'll ever build another, not for myself anyway.

Gymi said...

I'm just glad you built it, she is a stunner. The original Kat's are scarce round these parts. I keep my eye peeled for them. I just missed out on a real beauty a couple years ago in the Columbus Ohio area as stated above. Day late and a dollar short on that one. A minter priced at only $3000.00 US. There is one up right now in the Chigago area for $5,000.00 just a bit more than I want to pay. May be the same person who tried to sell his for eight large last fall.

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