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1985 GSX1100EF Build

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by svengali, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. hi all.

    new member here thats recently joined to log my build project.

    the bike is a 1985 GSX1100EF that a bought a few years ago for $1000 and has sat in my shed since apart from the occasional burn around the block. the bike has sat unstarted for the last 2 years or so.

    unfortunately due to being a new member im restricted and cant upload photos... so as soon as i become an established member ill post the detailed assessment of the bike ive written including overall condition, repairs needed, photos and the direction im planning to head with it ( naked :D )

    despite hoping to do a quick and dirty build to get it onto the road ASAP for summer ive resigned myself to the fact that i should probably do everything right the first time rather than get it on the road now then tear it down again over winter.

    im hoping people will find this interesting to read and maybe inspire themselves to tackle a project as well. im also looking for any comments and advice back on the build as it progresses.
    • Like Like x 5
  2. Please please please restore it to original

    Looking forward to seeing the photos
  3. Looking forward to the project report and pictures...
  4. welcome looking forward to the pics
  5. Yeah keen to see the progress and I might learn something along the way. I hope to do a project when space and funds are more available than they are now.
  6. unfortunately your going to be dissipointed... my plan is for a naked sportsbike build.

    personally im more partial to a naked bike, my feeling is if you have a big engine show it off! while i dont mind newer streamlined fendered bikes these older ones are quite large and clunky in my opinion, though i did see a nice clean slightly later gsx1100 (maybe EFE?) in my motorbike shop that did look ok.

    the other issue is that while i have the complete fenders and plastics for it, there is alot of damage to them (lots of paint cracking from stress on the fibreglass, some cracks right through the plastic/fiberglass, some chunks missing in places, tabs and screw mounts broken off, the windshield is cactus etc) most likely they will be patched up and sold.

    attached picture is what im aiming for, still unsure of colours though (black on black on black? haha. im not very artistic.) most likely will keep the silver frame as i like the way it contrasts with the black engine. engine will probably remain black with some silver highlights and everything chrome/bare polished.


    ill update my first post soon with an outline of the build and pictures of the bike.
  7. Nice bikes - good luck with the build.
    I just sold my '83 XJ900 original with matching numbers on ebay. The dollars climbed nicely in the last minute scramble and got to where i thought it would be. The bloke came round to pick it up and i said 'at least it's 99% original so should make for an easy resto' - he looked at me as if i was a nutter and said 'I'm going to make it into a bobber'!
    Oh well, i just counted the cash for solace.
  8. i guess after a certain period of time the ability to edit a post is lost as i can no longer edit the origional top post.

    so a 1985 GSX1100EF in its glory days..

    and my GSX1100EF...

    (ignore the mess, you know something about great minds and cluttered spaces and all that.) dirty, faded, cracked, rusty, mismatched and a bit sad.i dont have any pictures with the full fenders on as they were long ago removed and stashed away on a shelf. it does run ok however, so i guess its got that going for it. cluster reads 30xxx km.

    so the plan for the build is a general tidyup and repair of anything needed for roadworthy, a fresh paint and cleanup of anything thats going to stand out after painting and of course the needed extras to convert it to a naked bike.

    the list so far is as follows:

    ~ needs a new headlight + fork mounts to attach headlight and blinkers too. i will probably just try and find a cheap round headlight off another bike to pass roadworthy, then look at fitting a duel headlight of somekind later.

    ~ headers have quite alot of surface rust (i had one header pipe replaced as it was rusted through) upon removing towards the rear near the mufflers is quite rusty and theres alot of crap shaking around in one of the mufflers. will probably drill the rivets on the rear plates out and have a look, possibly just hollow them out and fill with fibreglass packing to pass roadworthy. ill probably try and get away with sandblasting the exhaust system where its rusty, welding up any holes and painting it black with hi-temp paint.

    ~ rocker/valve cover leaking oil. from looking outside theres a whole heap of gasket goop around the valve cover.... i havnt taken it off yet but it would surprise me if the rubber gaskets still there. i have one on order from germany so it should be here sometime in the next 2 weeks HOPEFULLY.

    ~ cut stator wire. one of the 3 wires (phases?) running from the stator to the R/R has been cut and taped off. the R/R is a wreckers part off another bike (has VF250 85 written on the back in white texta) so im running on the the assumption that possibly one of the 3 phases on the stator has shorted and rather than fix it they've cut it to solve whatever problem it was causing. (feel free to chime in with any susgestions, as of yet i havnt pulled the stator cover to have a look and a poke around with my multimeter.) bike actually ran fine like this for quite a while till it sat in the shed for a few months, when i took it out the battery light kept comming on when headlights or blinkers were activated. if this is the problem ill probably look into a re-wind or re-wind it myself as a stator is around $220 new.

    ~ blinkers only working on one side. blinkers were only working on one side and the other was making a very fast ticking/arcing sound from the blinker relay and nothing was happening. i actually solved this when tearing down the bike, the wiring was squished on the rear blinker and must have been grounding/shorting because trying another blinker on it solved the issue.

    ~ hand controls a bit touchy. the handlebar controls for horn/headlights/blinkers are a bit dicky. gotta press the button a few times for the horn to work and the blinkers will click over to activate but need to be pushed as far to the side as possible before activating. will probably just pull apart and re-fresh it.

    ~ rust in fuel tank. bit of rust in fuel tank, as you'd expect on a 30+ yearold bike. ill probably try knocking as much out as possible with some nuts and bolts, then will treat with vinegar to convert and remove the rest of the rust.

    ~ general maintence items. i have new air filter and fuel lines here. will probably flush the brake fluids, replace the oil filter and oil (was done about 2 years ago but barely ridden) fork fluids, spark plugs etc.

    ~ body panel missing corner. one of the panels ill be using (covers the carbie area) is missing a chunk 2cm or so of the corner. will probably brace the inside with a piece of plastic and maybe build up the outside with fibreglass then filler.

    ~ rusty frame. the frame has quite a bit of paint missing in places and old non-active surface rust. there's quite alot of pinhole rust through the paint on visible parts of the frame around foot pegs and such. while as far as i can see and feel there is no serious rust (no holes, bubbling or anything apart from surface rust) i wasnt sure if i could get through roadworthy just cleaning it up a bit but then figured i might as well fix and paint it as it will just return. plan is to sandblast the frame then paint at home (can anyone susgest a type of paint to use on the frame? something that is a bit softer and less prone to chipping?)

    ~ painting. paint the rest of the body panels, tank and any other misc pieces that may need painting.

    ~ carbs. may need a re-build. deffinately need a tune and balance.

    ~ oil tempature doesnt display on cluster. havnt looked into this yet, can only be either wiring, the sensor on the engine or the gauge gone bad.

    ~ ignition cover. ignition/points? cover has a cunk missing out of the bottom. aprantly the bike was dropped by the previous owner in his driveway trying to pushstart it as the battery had gone. ive had trouble finding these on the internet, i may just patch it up with kneed-it and sand it down then re-paint for now and hunt around wreckers later.

    ~ mismatched seat colours. not a huge deal, may not sort them out till after it is rego'd. will either dye the blue one to black or maybe get them both recovered in a custom way.

    ~ running on 3 cylinders when cold. i havnt actually ran the bike for a year or more, but from memory on a cold start with the choke on the bike would start up on 3 cylinders (sounded all lumpy etc) after maybe 15 seconds or a bit longer and a few blips of the throttle the 4th cylinder would pickup and after that it would idle and run fine. any susgestions? (i assume it could be alot of things... bad carbie, valves, bad rings) hopefully a quick easy fix because i dont plan on re-building the engine for a while. clutch also seemed to possibly slip when giving it alot of the right hand... im not overly worried ill be cruising it around mostly, will probably deal with it and install new clutch plates when it becomes a bigger issue.

    ~ wrap headers. im concidering wrapping the headers, though im not entirely sure yet. ive read that it can cause the headers to crack due to heat retention and that can also cause head problems for the same reason. (though i read painting headers cause cause issues as well due to heat retention)

    ~ number plate light cover. the black plastic cover that sits over the numberplate light is missing. so far i havnt been able to find one on the net. i might call around the wreckers and see i can locate one. seems the previous owner had the same problem as the clear plastic cover that sits over the globe has been painted black so it only throws light down onto the numberplate and not outwards.

    ~ needs mirrors. as the mirrors are mounted to the panels of the bike ill need to replace them with some handlebar mounted ones. will have to check legalitys as to the size they need to be and positions. (maybe just bar end mirrors as there doesnt seem to be enough room to mount them to the handlebars)

    im sure other issues will crop up. but ill tackle those later.

    im hoping to get this on the road as cheap as i can while still not cutting corners. ill post a detailed breakdown of part costs at the end.

    Feel free to chime in with any comments/susgestions.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. id love to do a bobber build... maybe one day. i feel the headaches of law enforcement through defects to make a bobber the way i'd like would probably end up too much lol.

    anyway onwards and upwards!

    my GSX1100 as it sat yesterday morning.

    and yesterday arvo. i should have it down to a rolling frame with engine by tonight and will have to wait for someone to assist in lifting the engine out.
    (hmmm blury photos... ill have to take more care next time to make sure they are in focus.)

    easy enough to pull down... the real pain will be re-assembling. my main concern is correctly re-routing all the wiring. (thanks to my minor stint working in the automotive repair industy i quickly learn to make sure everything is labelled and ordered when storing. all screws are in their own seperate labelled bags and attached to the part if needed.) ive also taken LOTS of photos to help with re-assembly. so if theres something you want to see sing out because most likely ive got a picture.

    so onto painting, i do have some basic exprience from a long time ago spray-painting car panels (though im going to need to be refreshed and probably read through a few how-to's to refresh myself on the minor points of sandpaper grades and sanding between coats and such.

    my plan is to buy a compressor sandblaster, can anyone recomend the medium i should be using (sand, aliminium etc) i assume something corse will be fine for the steel but will i need a softer medium for cast parts?

    also any recomendations on the type of paint i should use on the frame? im assuming something softer would be better to reduce the chance of chipping. i was reading something somewhere the other day that susgested painting straight onto the bare metal instead of priming the frame first as the adhersion was better.

    powdercoating at the moment is probably out of my price range sadly, and any excuse to purchase new tools (blaster, paint gun) and doing the repair myself while comming out ahead is a plus.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. so here we are at the end of today. bike is almost completely dissassembled and disconnected apart from a few wires to the engine and the oil cooler. the plan then is to lift the engine out and take some more photos of the wiring. i plan on just disconnecting the rear swingarm and removing it as a whole assembly with the wheel and shock still attached and to do the same with the front forks.


    someone didnt love you :( (hixsy bone shit) but hopefully we'll fix that! as you can see in this photo there is numerous rust patches all over the frame where stuff has rubbed over the years and from scratches.


    carbies are missing alot of paint, will probably sandblast them too and repaint.

    while disassembling i also noticed that one of the rubber boots that sits between the carbies and intake is severely cracked. ill pull all of them off and the ones that sit between the carbies and airbox and check and replace any that need it. i also noticed the rotors are scored/wavey and will need either machining or replacing.


    can anyone explain this too me? this is the cover off the engine that sits over the sprocket... at first i thought it was caked completely full with crap, but when i poked it its actually foam. why would this piece be filled with foam? i'd assume they arnt like that from the factory... maybe im wrong. noise dampening?
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Nice bit of '80s muscle. Very much my era so I'm watching with interest. Good luck with the build.

    I'd guess that the foam is a noise measure, although I suppose it could be a bodge to disguise a weeping output shaft seal by soaking up the residue.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Look forward to seeing this progress.
  13. I've done a top end rebuild (1197 overbore, forged pistons, carbs fiddled, head skimmed and ported/polished) on an 84 1100EFE before, and rode it around for about a year afterwards. Engine is a BEAST, very reliable also. Electrics are shite, like most things that are 30+ years old. Suspension, handling and brakes are really what sets the old girls apart from modern stuff. In a bad way that is. 16" front wheel also makes it actually very fast steering, but tyre choice is quite poor, and you have to be careful of the tread pattern as odd patterns can induce tank slap.

    Good luck!
  14. following
  15. thanks for the replys guys! ive been a bit slack but do have some updates.

    for the moment i probably wont be looking at any peformance modifications just focusing on getting it onto the road, from my few blasts around the street i think once its running properly it'll have plenty enough power for me to cruise around on and play with. though as you mentioned ive also heard these are very bulletproof motors are open to modification (from what i read they are heavily used in the drag scene even still today, pretty easy to get bigbore kits for and the bottom ends handle a bit of power before needing any modification)

    i havnt had a good chance to ride it heaps and assess the suspension and such but im sure it'll be fine for me to cruise on (ive read obviously being a big old bike the new boys leave them for dead in the corners etc) im not really looking to track or anything.

    funny you mention the tank slap... that was one of the issues i noticed when i first rode it. it wasnt extreme but at a certain point at semi low speed (maybe 30-60) it would almost hit a sweet spot and the handlebars would start oscillating back and forth.if you had a firm grip on them it wouldnt happen but if held lightly they would wander back and forth. so ill look into the tire thanks!



    well... i underestimated how much of a pain in the ass removing the engine would be by myself without an engine crane or block and tackle, re-assembly will be a 2 man job.

    i was under the impression that i would be able to remove all the engine bolts except one at the rear and lift the front of the engine, slide a piece of wood between the bottom of the engine and the frame then remove the rear one and do the same. unfortunately it fouled against the frame. i tried leaving one of the front ones in and doing the rear but had the same issue.

    i then unbolted all of them and jacked the engine up... only to find there still wasnt enough space to slide wood between the frame and base of the engine to then slide it out on.

    it ended up having to turn a bit and slide out on the frame with much wiggling... my saving grace was id tied some rope around it and to my shed roof as insurance incase i dropped it, it had enough spring to help me ease it down onto the dolly. luckily there was only a few minor scrapes on it. also i managed to avoid any slipped disks/hernias so thats a plus.


    and here we are. im leaning to probably just paying to have the frame powdercoated.... i dont want to go through a dismantle again in 6 months because the paint ends up looking crap, and im a bit concerned about the limited choices of paint ill have spraying at home not being hard enough to stand up to stonechips, not melt when exposed to fuel/oil etc. ill make a decision in the next few days after i get some quotes for powdercoating. everything else will probably be painted by me as they will be easy to remove if needing fixing in the future.

    anyway during my absence a few parts turned up (valve cover gasket, new old stock shipped from germany for less than $30 and it arrived in 12 days) so tomorrow ill be cleaning down the engine, pulling and inspecting the rest of the carb boots (these things are $$$$ about $180 for a set from the usa... kinda irritates me 4 pieces of rubber can cost so much. cheapest i found was partzilla for $15 USD each)

    ill also be pulling the valve cover off, the paint on it is quite chipped and missing. ive actually been looking at how you can make a cheap homemade soda blasting gun with a bit of hose, a blowdown gun and a box of bicarb soda. so ill give that a go to remove the paint and cleanup any deposits on the cover and remove the gasket goo then ive got a can of engine paint ill spray it with.

    and if i have time check out the stator and test the tempature sensor.

    looking at the swingarm, the paint on it while dirty looks in very good condition. it actually looks different to the frame, it being all gloss and the frame being a matte so it may just get a good polish and slapped back on (looks like one was painted and ones powdercoat). also the main swingarm bolt (the one it pivots on) was really seized in there. i ended up having to wind the nut off slightly and bash it with a hammer and socket the whole way to get it out, which screwed the last 2 threads on the bolt.

    ive got a few polishing wheels and some cut and polish so might start trying to cleanup a few randombits and pieces as well.
  16. The GSX chassis was actually quite good in its day. The Full Floater monoshock setup was as good as anything offered by anyone else (just make sure you keep all the bearings and linkages greased) and the forks were also OK for their time. For their time meaning, unfortunately, you get pointless crap like non-functional anti-dive and, as noted upthread, the daft little 16" wheel that was de rigeur back then.

    With some physical effort and a not insubstantial amount of bravery, the GSX11 could be persuaded to stay with the contemporary but rather more advanced GPZ900R, which was the sports bike benchmark back in '85, on most real-world roads, so it's not a slow or clumsy bike in any absolute sense. As a practical daily classic ,still with enough stomp to see off most traffic-light competition (go and find a dyno curve for one, it's astonishing), it's a hard bike to beat.

    And, yes, it's an '80s Suzuki so the charging system will either be buggered or about to become so. They're all like that sir.
  17. thanks for that information patb, i look foward to finally taking this bike for a spin sometime soon!

    so i tried out my homemade soda blaster.... unfortunately it didnt work as well as it could. it could possibly work if you compressor is up too it but mine sure issnt. from what i read you need between 90-120psi where i could only manage 100 and not consistantly at all. by the time i flicked the compressor off pressure was only 30psi!

    anyway it wasnt all a loss. while it wont strip paint, it works very well as a degreaser and for removing burnt on oil deposits and such. ill most likely use it to clean the outside of the engine down, and for cleaning the carb internals. its very good for this as bicarb just disolves into water and oil so its easier to clean out after finishing and if there is anything left over its soft enought not to damage bearings or anything.


    (red circled area's are where i blasted, you can see its removed the burnt on oil and removed some overspray from the previous persons painting but was no match for the outside)

    ill probaby look into a blasting cabinet sometime in the future when funds allow... the amount of time and hassle it saves from using sandpaper trying to get into tight corners and cleaners and solvents with brushes would pay for itself in no time!


    anyway. no before picture but the paint was flaking off and chipped. i just grabbed some paint stripper and it was quickly gone. the weather hasnt been good here so i havnt painted it yet but will hopefully get around to it tomorrow. i actually kinda like the possibility of a polished valve cover sometime in the future when the engine gets detailed.


    quick picture of the valve gear. i must admit im not that mechanically minded. i understand how an engine works and the roles various components play. i can pull things off and replace them if i have a manual infront of me to work out torque settings and assembly steps but id honestly not really know if things are worn unless theres obvious damage or slop.

    that said it was very clean under the valve cover, i cant really see any scoring on the cams and everything looks good. camchains nice and tight and the slider looks brand new possibly.

    i also took some quick measurements of the oil tempature sensor on 2 different days. it appears to vary its resistance so im assuming its fine and maybe my gauge or the wiring between them is the problem but ill look into it more.

    i also got around to looking at my stator. i measured the resistance between the coils (1.8ohms) all fine. i measured for a coil to ground, nothing. i then moved onto the rectifier. all diodes read fine on the positive side... but on the negative side one gave a reading while the others were open, then when reversed gave an extremely low reading while the others were in the 500 range.

    so my R/R is fried. IM OF THE IMPRESSION THAT I CAN REPLACE IT WITH PRETTY MUCH ANY R/R I CAN FIND AS LONG AS ITS THE SAME WIRING (3 leads for the alternator, one positive and negative, and one sensor wire that connects somewhere that sees power then the bikes running) is this correct? can i just repalce it with any 6 wire R/R? i dont really wanna fork out the cash for a genuine GSX1100 one (there a few hundred) if i can just use one i pick up off ebay plus i assume one off a later model bike may be more reliable/better designed than a 30 yearold one.
  18. Don't fit another GSX1100 one. It'll be rubbish too. It's not so much the age of the design, more that the particularr ones used by Suzuki at the time were, notoriously, terrible. Anyone running a Suzi from the era used to quickly get used to the smell of boiling battery acid. Back in the day the standard cheapo replacement was a Honda CB250N rec/reg, which, IIRC, had a wire left over but still worked. Now that the wreckers aren't full of knackered CB250Ns, though, I'm not sure what the best specific route would be. But yes, any 3-phase rec-reg as described should work. It would also be possible to cobble something together with a bunch of bridge rectifiers from Jaycar and a Bosch RE55 voltage regulator, all on a big aluminium heatsink, but that's for advanced students with some appetite for risk ;).
  19. The later model GSXRs didn't have the same problems (AFAIK), so that's probably a good place to start. I used to cook my gsxr1100 in summer traffic all the time and the rectifier never missed a beat.
  20. thanks for the replys.

    i did look a bit last night and realised that you can just install a 5 wire one and leave the 6th wire taped off (its some type of reference wire i believe? that lets it monitor the voltage in the system and adjust the output accordingly.)

    thanks for letting me know that the CB250N rec/reg was used alot... the one on it is actually from the wreckers off a VT250 which helps confirm for me the charging system is probably piss weak :p (about the only concern i read about using random rec/reg was is if the alternator put out higher amps than the bike it was off it can cook them pretty quick)

    theres a few on ebay off ZZR250's for $30 ill probably just grab one of them.

    im also about to order 4 new intake boots for $110 shipped from the USA which should be here within 2 weeks. i checked out the boots between the air filter and the carbies and they seem to be in really good nick (maybe due to only passing air where the others have the fuel/air mix going through them)

    now onto powdercoating..... anyone know what im up for roughly to have the frame blasted and coated? ill probably ring around some local ones (theres 3 in geelong i think) next week.

    is it a good idea to buy a fistful of junk bolts and install them in all the threaded bolt holes to avoid them powdercoating the inside of the threads? then just show them the few other areas they will need to tape up to keep the powder out? (there issnt many. just where the handlebars pass through the frame obviously, where the swingarm bolt passes through the frame and theres 2 more that i cant remember what they are for atm but have bushes in them so ill assume are a tight fit)

    from what i read the upper and lower outer headset bearing races will need to come out as well (apprantly the heat anneal them and weaken their strengh) how tight are they fitted? will i be able to tap them out without damaging them?

    i did some painting today too......


    not overly happy with it. at least it will be basically hidden so wont stand out too much. it was all over in the first coat i went too heavy. by the third i had the nice light feathercoating down that should have been the first 2. ohh well ill pratice more before painting the tank and stuff. once its dry ill sand off the TSCC markings so they are silver.