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Exotic Suspension for the Masses: 1994 Yamaha GTS1000

Only sold for two years in the US, the Yamaha GTS1000 was available from 1993-94. Styling is conservative 90’s Japanese, but without the garish graphics that often distinguish sportbikes of the era and the look is handsome, but so relatively unremarkable that it’s easy to miss the bike’s true standout feature: the forkless front end.

Almost missed that, didn’t you?

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 R Side Front

Conventional telescopic forks have well-known limitations: under braking, they compress and throw a motorcycle’s weight forward, upsetting weight-distribution, and this shift disturbs suspension geometry as well. In addition, the forces being channeled through and being amplified by the tubes means that triple-trees and  headstocks need to be very beefy, increasing weight.

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 L Front End

Plenty of alternatives have been tried since the dawn of motorcycle suspensions, but most have fallen by the wayside: they may improve in some areas, but usually at the cost of increased complexity or reduced steering feel, exactly the kind of things engineers were looking to avoid. They exchanging simple for complicated with no real upside, except as an exotic calling-card for owners of bikes like the Vyrus or Bimota Tesi who don’t mind the additional maintenance expense.

Interestingly, the suspension on this machine provides the best of both worlds: suspension compliance and braking stability as well as relative simplicity and reliability.

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 Dash

Yamaha’s “Omega-Framed” GTS1000 was an innovative, ambitious attempt to bring exotic swingarm front suspension technology to the masses. Alternative suspension maverick James Parker, who is still hard at work developing this concept today, licensed his technology to Yamaha and the engine was from Yamaha’s FZR1000, a 1000cc five-valve four cylinder that was detuned for touring duty, although that’s likely easily changed to something approaching the donor bike’s 145hp without too much trouble. The bike also included a great deal of exotic technology like electronic fuel injection, anti-lock brakes, and a catalytic converter.

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 Frame

From the original eBay listing: 1994 Yamaha GTS1000 for Sale

Two words. RARE, Collector! This GTS1000 is in fantastic condition and yes, it’s a pretty difficult find. The GTS was only available in the states from 1993 to 1994. It was still available in Europe until 1999. The previous owner took exceptional care of this. If you’re a collector or an enthusiast, this would be a great bike. Not to mention, it’s still a great bike to ride. For those of you who looked at this listing earlier, I did get the bags and the brakes. Please see pics. The only thing that is any concern is that the ABS is disconnected. I do have a box of all the parts for the ABS (see pics). The previous owner disconnected them as he didn’t like ABS. Overall, this bike is in great condition and would be a wonderful motorcycle to have in any collection.

Reviews at the time suggest that the suspension performed as advertised. Unfortunately, while the bike was innovative, it was very expensive and the de-fanged powerplant combined with a surprisingly limited range to muddy the waters: exactly what was this bike for? The main advantages of this design were really wasted on a heavy sport-touring bike like this, and it seems odd to combine relatively primitive ABS with a suspension designed to provide increased braking ability at the limit.

Poor sales killed the bike after just two years, although it sold until 1999 in other markets. I’m not sure these are really any sort of huge investment opportunity, but they have a strong cult following and parts for the engine should be readily available, although bodywork and suspension bits could be a problem. As an affordable sport-touring mount, it’d be hard to beat, so if you’re looking for a weird bike with reliability and subtlety, this interestingly technical machine could represent an opportunity you never knew existed.

-tad

1994 Yamaga GTS1000 L Side

 

10 Comments

  • prefer the bimota version, thank you very much

    • I think we mostly all do. As someone once said, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”

      However, you can’t take your girl or boyfriend on the back of a Tesi…

  • heh-true enough.

    My problem with this bike is that it seems kind of a like a half assessed attempt to go with hub centered steering.

    Also, from what I have read in previous listings, even James Parker (who was one of the big proponents and designers of hub centered steering) said Yamaha got this wrong by putting it on an underpowered sport tourer. Sport touring riders won’t be that impacted by the improvement in steering/rebound/etc. He seemed to think it would have been better for them to do a very limited edition stripped down hyperbike monster, which is kind of what the BImota is.

    So while it qualifies as rare, on the classic/curious meter I think it is definitely over on the curious side.

    M

    • I agree completely: it seems very counter-intuitive to put a suspension designed to improve at-the-limit handling into a bike with touring intentions and relatively primitive ABS. Parker probably would have rather had his ideas stuffed into a higher-priced FZR1000, and that would have made more sense. On this bike, the technology may be effective, but it’s really just a curiosity. It’s a real shame: if Yamaha had put these ideas into a bike that highlighted the advantages, maybe the R1 would have a front end like this now: http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/features/122_0801_gsx_radd_p3/

  • Hi Boys.Off topic for this post,but there is no general forum on this site.Which way would you go if you had to plonk down your cash if your choice were between the new Supperleggera or a unused,post 1000 build, Desmosedicci??. No opinions based on “investment potential” please.

    • I asume you meant a lambo superlegera and a ducati desmodecci (not sure what a Supperleggera is, sounds like a like meal 🙂 )

      I suppose it depends on where you live and what you intend to do with vehicle. If as you say you are not going for investment potential but are instead going to to actually use the vehicle, I would probably go with the superlegera. You will be able to use it throughout the year, parts and service availability will probably be better than the desmodecci (although still very expensive) and when you decide to get rid of it more people will be interested. The Desmodeicci appeals to a more focused group of buyers who know what it is.

      Think of it this way…if a bunch of kids walked past a desmodeci, they would go “hey, nice bike” but its unlikely they would know how special it is. If the same bunch of kids walked past a lambo superlegera they would go “oooo….can we go for a ride?” 🙂

      Kids grow up to be buyers someday, so the superlegera is probably the safer choice for someone to spend their money on.

  • Uuumm,…OK. A Superleggera is a Ducati.I thought anyone who comes to this site would know that.Maybe there is some “new generation” motorcyclists here..you know the ones’Pazzazazzo’ levers,rim stickers,tinted double-bubble screens,etc…
    Anyway,which of the two bikes would you choose,from a collector’s perspective?

  • Quite a while ago I suggested to the mod(s) that this site add a general discussion forum to the site. I still think it’s a good idea.

    Besides that, I don’t know anyone who would want this Yamaha. Center-hub steering is cool… I loved watching Rocket Ron Haslam race in the GPs with that elf Honda back in the late 80’s. Cool idea, but after all this time we can probably agree that forks are and will be best choice for a long time.

    • That’s a good question. The Superleggera is an upspec’d version of the standard Panigale model. The Desmo is a one off model that will not be made again in that form. Is the Superleggara a better bike to ride, is it easier to maintain, will it be easier to sell – all yes in my opinion. Is the Desmo more exotic, more special….yes. Not sure which will hold its value better (remembering both will / have devalued).

      I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do wonder is the Superleggera like a 888 SP3 / SP4 vs a Strada of the same year, or a 916 SPS Foggy v the 916, with the Desmo more like a Supermono, built around the same time but a one off that commands a lot more. Also, remember the Desmo has technology that is 6 years older and not only quite expensive to service but many cities do not have a dealer that could service. They may put some off in the future.

      You could do what many Ducati fanatics do, buy both, that way you are sure to pick the right one. Either way, you will love them both equally, but differently.

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