Found in New Jersey, today’s awesome 1983 Suzuki Katana is a throwback to what was the state of the art. Looking like a space ship – but rolling on caveman technology – the Katana made a serious statement to the world. This was a major score for Suzuki, and the entire world watched as the Hamamatsu manufacturer leapt to the front of the line with a string of successful models, including the forthcoming (and game changing) GSX-R. But in the first half of the 1980s it was the Katana making news and stealing the show.
The radical lines of the Katana were penned by designer Hans Muth. They evoked a sense of motion with angular lines and a short, stubby windscreen. By all accounts the new Katana was not Gold Wing comfortable, but was no worse than the hyper sports bikes to come in the next decade (here’s looking at you, Ducati). Power came from an evolution of the big GS mill, with DOHC and four valve heads, but that is where brute force took over from technology. The big 72mm slugs displaced 1074cc, and slide in air cooled bores. These were fed by a brace of four Mikuni carbs, with the mixture squished to a compression ration of 9.5:1. All told, expect 110-ish HP from a stock unit (when new). The rest of the bike consisted of a steel double loop frame, and a twin shock swing arm arrangement. Brakes were big for the day, with 275mm disks up front and double piston calipers. When introduced ahead of the 1981 model year, Suzuki claimed the Katana was the fastest production motorcycle in the world.
From the seller:
1983 Suzuki GSX / Katana 1100. Listing for my father who has owned it since 1987. The engine was taken out and rebuilt in the 1990’s. It has a 1166cc big bore kit, Stage 2 port and polished head, megacycle cams, springs, and retainers, super hub clutch basket, 36mm mikuni RS carbs. Ohlins shocks, braced swing arm, powder coated wheels, large aftermarket performance machine front brakes, brand new Michelin tires, yoshimura header, dyna coils and MSD ignition box. We have most of the original parts for it including the original carburetors, shocks, seat, center stand, air box, swing arm, and a spare gas tank that is dented. Everything operates on the motorcycle except for the tachometer because of the MSD spark box. The box has an adjustable rev limiter. The motorcycle only has about 3000 miles on the rebuilt engine and has never been raced. Runs and stops great.
This particular Katana has benefitted from some very period-correct mods as well as newer technology. Read carefully through the seller’s description to find the deeper details, but essentially the GS motor responds well to a big-bore kit. This comes straight out of the dragstrip mentality of “bigger is better,” and by all counts the 1166cc upgrade is relatively conservative. The Yoshimura headers, the Kerker can, the braced swing arm, the upgraded carbs and the new cams are all old school trickery to make the Katana even faster (and thanks to upgraded brakes, it stops better too!); it all looks the part today. Even the MSD ignition seems to fit, itself a far better solution than the early-style, weak transistorized unit of the stocker. Sadly, said upgrade fails to communicate with the analog rev counter, making the tach inop. Many of the original parts are included in the sale, which is a plus for the collector.
The seller notes that this bike has been in the family for a long time – since 1987. That is great loyalty and longevity for what was initially thought of as a motorcycle oddity. Thankfully Suzuki experienced great success with the model, which spawned many variants including smaller capacities, different bodywork, and of course models crafted using similar design language (GS550 and XN85 Turbo, to name two). The Katana name was reused many times over the years as well, although never with such the impact as the original. This fantastic looking beast is prowling for a new garage or man cave to call home. And who wouldn’t want this sitting somewhere where it could be seen? Anthony can be reached by email here and is asking $15,000.