It came from the 80s. And while that is an accurate tag line, the truth is it sort of oozed its way boldly out of the 1970s. Like the last of the front-engine Formula 1 racers, the Katana was visually stunning and stood at the pinnacle of old-school performance. Unfortunately, that pinnacle was really a precipice; the new world of liquid cooling, single shock swing arms, GP-inspired 16-inch front wheels, five valves per cylinder and aluminum perimeter chassis was just around the corner. By 1984 the Kawasaki Ninja made the Katana a hot-rod relic, and the remainder of the Big Four were close behind. Suzuki gamely fought back with the likes of the Gen I GSX-R, but the era of air-cooling was headed the way of the dinosaur. Yet for a brief period of time the Suzuki Katana was top dog – and remains an iconic model even today.
The seller has provided an accurate account of how the design of the Katana came to be, but fails to note the pedigree of Muth (long time BMW designer responsible for the R90S, R100S, R100RS and R65LS to name a few), and the extent to which the Katana design language extended throughout the Suzuki model range. The Katana was the most visually extreme, but the XN85 Turbo and full range of GS models all retained key elements and lines of the Katana. But the Katana wasn’t just another pretty face. Stuffed full of a DOHC, 1100cc in-line monster of a motor, the Katana was claimed to be the fastest mass-production motorcycle of the day with 80+ HP (!). Beneath the styling, the rest of the bike was surprisingly pedestrian; a stock GS1000 chassis complete with twin shocks. Wheels are 19 inchers, likely chosen as much for style as performance. Ancillary components hang off the end of the crank, making this bike impossibly wide. While some technology peeked its way into the build (4-valve heads, anti-dive fork), the Katana was really a tarted up, big motor bike. Which is why we love it.
From the seller:
You are looking at a great condition 1983 Suzuki GS1100S Katana, one of the iconic bikes of the early 1980s.
The 1100cc model of 1983 replaced the 1982 1000cc model which was supposed to be part of a homologation program to make them eligible for Superbike racing.
The Katana project actually began in Germany with a company called Target Design in 1979 with Target Design to improve Suzuki’s GS1100. Ex-BMW designers Hans-Georg Kasten and Hans Muth partnered with Brit Jan Fellstrom to overhaul the Suzuki lineup. The Katana, named for the famous Japanese sword, first appeared at the Intermot show in Cologne in May 1980, and production examples appeared a year later with only a few changes from the show bike.
More from the seller:
This particular bike is part of a collection which is being sized down. It has been parked for quite a while and is NOT READY TO RIDE
It will require some attention to make it roadworthy if it is supposed to be ridden.
Please note that the title will show an odometer discrepancy according to the BMW regulations in Ohio. The mileage shown on the speedometer on the bike is 75, but the actual mileage is approx. 6060. The original speedometer showing 5984 miles will be included.
Complete and original (or period correct) Katanas are getting stronger on the money side. While time has tamed their brutal status as a monster – performance slower than that of a middleweight today – keep in mind that the chassis and suspension is pretty much 40 year old technology. While never a canyon carver in its day, Katanas today are best utilized for more genteel rides and for the show. Today’s bike is more on the show side of the fence, having traveled only 6,000 miles in its life and being the resident of a private collection. The seller notes that due to the time it has sat it will need to be serviced. That likely means carbs and tires, and any other pieces that have gone brittle with age.
This bike is currently at $4,500 with several days to go – and what appears to be NO Reserve. The current price is a bargain for a vintage Katana, although with over 100 watchers it will surely climb before auction end. We don’t see a lot of these, but looking at past pricing puts an average somewhere in the $8k arena. This bike appears cleaner than most, which may help elevate its value. Check it out here, and then jump back to the comments to share your thoughts. Is this a Love It or Hate It bike for you? Good luck!!