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Suzuki GSX-R1100? [early models]

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by boingk, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. Hi all. I've made a post or two about heading around Australia, as well as 'listening in' on others asking the same thing. I've noticed a lot of people recommending more road-oriented bikes, often after doing the loop on a more dirt-oriented model. I was originally thinking something like the DR650 to go around, but this advice has me thinking.

    There is a well-looked after early-model Suzuki GSX-R1100 near me (friend of a friend kinda thing) that I am thinking of going to have a look at. I've read up on their development history and so on, but would like opinions and experiences on them from owners.

    So whats the 1100 like to own, and how suited is it to long rides?

    Cheers guys - boingk

  2. A mate left me such bike to use while he went on hols. All I can say it handled like a med weight (easy to throw into corners) and very comfortable. Concerning the power I had to make sure my wife was still on the back as it made no diff to its performance. She behaved very nicely (the bike that is)
  3. I'd have an early GSXR in a heartbeat. Tough, fast and good looking, they're an upcoming classic and I don't reckon good ones will be affordable for much longer.

    That said, I'm not sure I'd want to do round Australia on a 20+ year old sport bike. Not without a good, long shakedown period beforehand anyway. Any bike that old will have an issue or two, however well looked after it might be.

    The early GSXRs that I've ridden have been reasonably comfortable for what they are. I've found the bars to be a very long stretch away and the legroom limited, but not excruciatingly so. Difficult to make a judgement from round the block though. MrsB went to France on the back of one about 20 years ago and reckoned it was OK, apart from overbalancing during a U-turn on cobbles, which dumped rider, bike and pillion in an untidy heap, attracting the attention of the gendarmerie. Not good 'cos the thing looked dodgy as hell, with no fairing, half the wiring hanging out and a bent spoon instead of an ignition key :grin:.

    My advice? If the price is good, buy it. Worry about whether you can do the loop on it afterwards. If you decide you can't, let me know and we'll see about a swap for a 2008 DR :wink:.
  4. Cheers vossy53, without having ridden one it sounds alright. I've only ridden a few larger bikes (GS850, BMW R1100S) so don't have the best idea of what to expect. Thankyou.

    Yeah, I know as much PatB. Thats part of why I'm asking now, instead of a few weeks before I leave. I'm planning on getting whatever bike I end up doing it on at least a few months out from departure so I can give it a work over and fit touring gear. If I do get it and decide its not right, I'll give you a buzz haha. DR650, right?

    Cheers - boingk
  5. I had a G model back in the late 80's, absolutely awesome bike, light, fast, reliable, comfortable. I raced mine aswell, put Ohlins rear shock in and 17" Marvic wheels, later model GSXR 17" alloy wheels go in easy, makes it handle better, plus easier to get good tyres. GSXR750L rear wheel will go straight in (5.5 x 17) and the 3.5 x 17 front goes in with a small mod to the front spacers.
  6. I had the 1127 model. In the end I was spending quite a bit of spanner time on it. these oil/air engines always sound like a bucket of bolts, but keep going. It was more the ancillaries.

    the 1127 bikes were heavier than the earlier models, but he engine is the one they use for big capacity drag bikes, so you know it is tough.

    Second hand parts are getting harder to find and new Suzuki parts seem to be getting dearer, though you still will find the odd suprise from the dealer.

    Parts tend to be fairly interchangeable, with many parts being in common with the 750.

    Prices have really dropped lately bringing them back to reasonable. There were some stupid prices out there about 3 years ago.

    The seat height on the 1100 was low by modern standards. I run LSL 1" risers on mine, which were great.

    when you say early model which is it?
  7. PatB - To be honest, I've got no idea what the model is. I think its an '86 (H?), but I could be wrong of course. All I know is that its got ~50,000km on the dials, hasn't been regoed in 4 years, and is in good original condition... apart from a small crack in one side cover and a resprayed front guard. Owner says its been very reliable and hassle free when he's had it on the road.

    What went wrong with yours PatB?

    Johnny O - Sounds like it would've been great fun going racing on one, managed to see one at Wakefield park historics...sounded brilliant! Not sure if I'll be upgrading too much of the running gear, but a new rear shock would probably be a good idea before the loop if its still running the original.

    - boingk
  8. Wasn't me wot asked, but thanks anyway :grin:.

    MrsB's France trip was about 5 years before we met (sadly) so the bike in question wasn't mine. It was owned by an enormous Yorkshireman who, apparently, found it a little small. He had a Laverda Jota when I knew him. It was like watching a performing bear on a moped but much faster :grin:.
  9. Yeah, iBast, I meant you not PatB haha. :)

    Anyway, if you're after a performing bear on a bike then you should come and check me out sometime. 6'2"/90kg, riding a Honda CBR250R. Only $2 a ticket, bring the family :wink:

    - boingk
  10. 86 was the first of them. 1052 from memory. They were lighter but have 18" wheels which makes good tyres harder to get.

    The 1100 didn't change as much as the 750, so there is not much different between 86, 87 and 88. Suzuki took a while to get it's act together with rear shocks, linkages etc, so ask about the history of the rear shock.

    Many fitted later model shocks. Alternatively you can get them built to suite you.
  11. Had a look at the thing, its actually a GSX-1100EF... looks just like this:


    50K km, runs very well, all electrics work etc etc. Nice and smooth. Was expecting the GSX-R but this is a pleasant surprise considering I'm looking to do a tour. Fellow is asking $1800 unregoed. Whaddaya reckon?

    - boingk
  12. I reckon you need to get the money now and press it firmly into his hot little hand. The GSX 1100 is probably the best value muscle in the obsolete, air-cooled monster market.
  13. You reckon, PatB? Thinking it over a bit, as it'll need a new front tyre and is running the 16" front on it...no idea on what they're like to ride from experience...but have heard bad things.

    - boingk
  14. Well, I haven't seen the actual bike, but a GSX11 offers an enormous amount of performance and metal for the money.

    Air-cooled Suzuki 4-strokes are rock solid. Unless it's been run to the redline with no oil in it, 50,000kms is barely run in. Was a favourite of drag racers and turbo nutters back in the day. Just keep an eye on the rec/reg and replace it at the first opportunity with something not from a Suzuki.

    Handling is OK (but bear in mind I've never wound one out) for what it is. Easily on a par with any other late, litre+ aircooler (eg GPz1100, CB1100R). I too have heard the death wobble stories but had never heard them until coming to Australia. Having spoken to one of the government bods who was involved in the investigation, I gather that with careful attention to head bearing condition and front tyre pressure it's a non-issue. The 16" front wheel is a minus point but ain't that bad in practice.

    And performance? How much do you want? You're unlikely to get more for $1800. Power and torque curves could be drawn with a ruler. It's a lovely engine and, if I've got my models right, delivers well over 100 genuine (not brochure) horses at the back wheel. Enough that Performance Bikes were still voting it in the top 5 used muscle bikes years after more sophisticated machinery became available.

    The only real question is, do you want a 25 year old muscle bike? If you do, the GSX11 is probably the pick of the bunch.

    BTW, if you buy it solely based on the word of an anonymous and opinionated old fart on an internet forum and it subsequently bites you on the arse, I accept no responsibility :wink:.
  15. BS mate, it'll be all your fault! :LOL:

    But seriously, I'm giving this one a good deal of thought. I'm already familiar with the engine family after working on my late GS850, which (come to think of it) had more than enough poke after I'd rejetted to account for pods and 4-1 'zorst. Can only imagine what the 1100 16 valver would be like to ride... =P~

    Pretty much the only reason I didn't give the guy my word to buy is because I'm still thinking about getting a more off-road oriented bike for the trip round Australia. The 1100 would do it easily but, say, a DR650 would open up a lot of different possibilities. Its a hard decision. Could always get this, resto & ride it, then sell in the summer (before trip) if I hate it I suppose.

    On the front wheel issues, I'm always a stickler for checking tyres before any out of town trip or twisties run. A 17" front could be retrofitted though, I'm sure.

    - boingk
  16. If you are touring with some dirt as well, it might be worth going in 18" rim. Katana might even be a straight swap. Though tyre choice isn't as good.

    Go and give him $1500 cash.
  17. Isn't the Kat a 19"? My memory isn't what it was though.

    Speaking of the Katana, have a look at what they're fetching these days. The GSX11EF is a technically superior bike, that uses a similar but more developed drivetrain, has better suspension and is more comfortable. Apart from the lack of Darth Vader styling, which you can't see from the saddle, the EF pisses all over the Kat in every practical respect.

    As PB put it, "The ultimate seek, stun, destroy street weapon".
  18. hmm could well be. the 750 kat? Had wheels that looked similar to gsx EF
  19. That's what I've been thinking, but if he sticks to his guns on $1800 then I'll still do it. Two new tyres and 12 months rego/CTP will take the cost up to around $2950, but then its all sweet as a nut AFAIK. Haven't got the thing yet though, so first things first.

    I'm fairly sure the Kat was an 18", and the naked G-model shafties were a 19". Either way, I'll see how the 16" front goes. Bridgestone BT45's are available in the right size; I've used them before and found them very good for everyday riding and/or twisties.

    Also, I took an early CBR1000F for a test ride today ($3k, 50K km, ran pretty well, horrible spraycan black fairings). Was worried about the weight of the thing but didn't even notice it - not in the least. Looks like I'll be fine for the 1100 if thats all I was worried about. Then again, I'm not the worlds smallest person at 6'2"/90kg.

    Cheers - boingk

    EDIT: And yes, the Katanas are definitely starting up the retro-cool ladder.
  20. When looking at 20+ year old bikes, I would definitely go Suzuki over Honda but you knew I was going to say that, didn't you :D.

    I'd say they were well past starting and are now into potentially fatal fall territory :grin:.

    Could be. It's a very long time since I looked closely at a Katana.