FEATURES

BIKE OF THE WEEK- SUZUKI GS1000

DREAM BIKE

Image
It's rare that there's ever a bike everyone agrees is best, but in 1978 that happened. Imagine...
In 1977 I was 12 years old, and altered my route to school so I would walk past a brand new red GS750. That was the bike we wanted.

I saw the guy on it once, and couldn't imagine what it would be like to have a megabike like that, and looking in the windows (never dared to go inside) of Rafferty Newmans, I stood open mouthed at the huge enormous massiveness of these dream bikes.

2 years later...

As clear as day I remember my brother rushing in and saying-

“They've got a CBX in John Fishers!”
And we all bombed down on our bicycles to have a look. It was mental. We were amazed and impressed, we wanted one.

I can see clearly now
But in between these two bikes, was the year 1978 – I was a bike mad 13 year old, reading all the magazines and the recent new owner of an officially scrapped Puch Maxi, my first bike. You should have heard my mum... anyway, this year was dominated by one bike and one bike only, there was nothing else anywhere near as new and glamorous and awesome - it was the brand new Suzuki GS1000!

Image
This had much more of an impact than the 750 had, maybe because it had alloy wheels and looked more modern...twin front discs, lighter, more powerful, better handling than any of the other superbikes at the time.

Easy
Road testers praised it to the heavens, especially for it's superior handling and relative smallness.

“We first tested the GS on a race track in Japan. We ran 180 miles with a 101 mph average and came away with the opinion that the Suzuki is the best high-speed-handling multi available for sale.”

“The GS1000 is the first multi-cylinder motorcycle we have ever tested which feels completely comfortable at high-speed.”

“The GS1000 could stand apart from the XS Eleven, Z1-R and CBX. The GS1000 is lighter. It does handle better. And it is simpler.”

“We know it's a stupendous motorcycle.”

I wish
This was the bike I always thought of as the best superbike of all, the Kawasakis being a bit old, CB750s even older, XS1100 was a tank, and the CBX just a mad impossible dream.

Now I don't know if you've ever had this, but sometimes, what you dream of, actually happens.

I ended up playing “Swords of a thousand men” with Eddie Tenpole at a gig, and also, in1986, 21 years old, owning a red GS1000EN. Boom!

Image
Born to run
A mate in the Dockyard said his brother had a non runner under a tarpaulin, mine for £350. I bought it.

The pistons were weather seized in the bores, it had a twin headlight endurance fairing, and a rotten exhaust system. I got a set of standard pistons from another guy in my mess who had his GS1000 big bored and nitroused (chrome frame and red metalflake!) - an alpha 4 into 1 exhaust secondhand and a few other bits which saw it running sweetly in short time.

Luckily for me, my dad was an engine fitter who gave me the confidence to cut out the piston crowns on the stuck cylinders and clean up the bores - it all worked fine, and I well recall the feeling of being king of the road on those first rides.

Just what I needed
The bike I had before this was an XS250, so you can imagine my astonishment at the mid-range acceleration and size of the thing! It was awesome. It sounded like a Lancaster bomber. By then, the GS1000 was outperformed by many other bikes, but still had a certain something about it - brute force if you like - which it retains to this day.

I wheelied it down Elm Grove on the way to the pub, and got an indicated 135mph out of it, and never got bored of the roll on acceleration.

The only thing that went wrong with it was the points went out of adjustment quite quickly, and it became hard to start - other than that it was solid and reliable.

Baby come back
I can't even think why I sold it, eventually, perhaps I didn't use it enough, or had bought something else, I can't really remember, but it's one of the bikes I'd have again without hesitating.

Image
Some stuff about the GS1000
Engine: 997cc DOHC, 8v four
Horsepower: 90 @ 8,200 RPM
Frame: tubular steel cradle
Brakes: 1-275mm disc (f) 1-275 disc (r)
Weight: 548-lb (wet)
Top speed: 139-mph

Let's stay together
When it came out, it had the most bracing on the frame, the biggest swingarm and forks, and adjustable suspension. The engine was smaller and lighter than the GS750. Tapered head bearings! Suzuki were serious about making this machine usable at speed.

Even at the time, the 1000 was much more highly rated than the 750, and that has not changed over the years, and the 550 is just flat and slow. I've owned all of them and the 1000 is by far the best, and not just because of the power.

The 2 valve head GS range became bigger and bigger, 400, 425, 450, 550, 650, 750, 850, 1000, and there were some shaft drive versions too.

Nowadays, it has become a classic, and prices are becoming rather eyebrow raising for good standard bikes - which is weird, because in their heyday you would never ever see any GS which hadn't been modified at least a bit - same as with RD Yamahas or anything else a bit sporty.

Spare parts are easy and common, the main expense in rebuilding one would be the exhaust system, but these are still available either 4:1 or similar to original 4:2 style. So long as you don't go OEM mad, you can still run this muscle bike on the cheap.

Image
All the usual things wear out, (cables, batteries, brake pads, chains and sprockets, wheel bearings etc) and there are no particular weak spots or anomalies in what sells for these. Many bikes and parts have been imported from the U.S.A which keeps prices lower.

So, in summary, I would like to conclude with a conclusion which summarises the above.

The GS1000 is a historic big fat fast reliable torque monster. Thank you for reading and with my warmest regards, I bid you good day.

Ah well another blinding bike of the week from Jerry - who agrees with him, or not, on this one? Or who has some hits of the 70s they'd like mentioned? Let us know on: news@wemoto

Posted by Jerry Rulf
for Wemoto News on 09 July 2014 in Features

Edited By: Denisa Orbulescu

RELATED ARTICLES

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Sign up to receive updates and new posts straight to your in-box.

WMD

WORLD'S END MOTORCYCLES DISTRIBUTION

Supplying quality after market motorcycle parts direct to the trade