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>1987 Suzuki GSXR 1100 (H model) - it's one of our bikes

 

"The old slabside GSXR 1100... it's more than just scary, it's uh... POOH your pants SCARY!!!"

A report by the owner: Todd O'Neill (editor of DoctorDanger.com)

Challenge: Having ridden light weight sports bikes for years I thought it would be a real challenge to knock around on a big old slabside gixxer. I've always wanted one of those monsters ever since Suzuki released the GSXR 1100 way back in 1986.

Research: After conducting a bit of investigation into the economics of owning one of these big fellas, things started looking good... cheep classic insurance (circa 200 p.a. for me and my points), circa 2000 purchase price, big powerful and dependable engine (who could over-stress one of those?), pretty much zero deprecation... and that was enough, I just had to get one. It took ages to find one that was near to the original condition (seems most have been 'Streetfighter-ized') but eventually I found one which was advertised locally (bonus).

Teething: Having owned the bike for just a few months now, it is taking me a while to get used to the Suzuki's power output and the way it handles (or should I say the way it doesn't handle). The power output is pretty seriousl. Its possible one of the previous owners might have put a big bore kit in this old machine because according to the Dyno test it's producing a whopping 131.7 bhp at the rear wheel - lovely-jubblie! I'm still experiencing the odd unexpected wheelie when I'm gently rolling on the throttle in second gear, in fact this happened the other day when I was putting my visor down, prompting my first ever one-handed wheelie - yahoo! The power output continues to impress me, but it might have something to do with the fact that I have a long history of riding little screamer sports bikes which didn't deliver much in the way of torque. Perhaps Chris (who has a Yamaha R1) and Ricky (Suzuki TL1000S) might find the power of this old gixxer a bit flat when compared to their modern one-litre machines, we'll just have to wait and see.

Scary: Now for the scary stuff - the handling. Well it doesn't really. The old GSXR 1100 never had a reputation for being good at handling but I think that's part of the charm of this classic bike. I don't know about you, but I enjoy a good challenge and for some bizarre reason I like a scaring the pooh out of myself, so I guess I've chosen the right bike for me . If you think getting your knee down on a Yamaha R6 is exciting, you should try cornering at speed on an old gixxer - God it races my heart just thinking about it! Despite the minor suspension upgrades the GSXR's high centre of gravity, flexi frame, considerable weight and 1980's technology ensures the GSXR's handling is far from being as sharp or responsive as modern day machinery. You could say it's a bit wallowy and that's on a good day. The GSXR seems to handle a bit better with some weight on it. I'm a bit of a light weight (I weigh 10.5 stone / 147 lbs) and I found the GSXR handles much better with my girl friend on the back, it feels much more planted, and less twitchy and wallowy through the corners.

Right finger: The front brakes are EXCELLENT. The Harris AP Lockheed conversion uses big single callipers but boy do they scrub the speed off quickly. If you are thinking of getting one of these old Suzuki's, you should put a brake upgrade at the top of your list! It could be a lifesaver!

The Gixxer on test
The good bits
The bad bits

Buying an old GSXR:It's not easy finding an old slabside GSXR in this kind of condition. Most have been modified, some turner into streetfighters, some into dragsters...

If you are looking for a GSXR which will increase in value, opt for something in original condition and ensure its a genuine import with no limiters or restrictors.

Original Specification: 1987 Suzuki GSXR1100  
  • Engine: Four-stroke, DOHC, 16 valve, twin swirl combustion chambers (TSCC), 4 cylinders, oil cooled with Suzuki Advanced Cooling System (SACS)
  • Displacement: 1052cc
  • Bore & Stroke: 76.0 x 58.0 mm
  • Compression Ratio: 9.7:1
  • Carburettors: four Mikuni BS34SS
  • Lubrication: Wet Sump
  • Clutch: Hydraulic
  • Ignition: Transistorised
  • Transmission: 5-speed, constant mesh (Yes only 5 speed!)
  • Overall Length: 2115mm (83.3 in)
  • Overall Width: 745mm (29.3 in)
  • Overall Height: 1215mm (47.8 in)
  • Seat Height: 795mm (31.3 in)
  • Wheelbase: 1460mm (57.5 in)
  • Ground Clearance: 125mm (4.9 in)
  • Dry Weight: 199kg (438 lbs)
  • Suspension (Front): Telescopic, coil spring, oil damped, spring preload, 4-way adjustable with Suzuki's electrically activated suspension system (NEAS)
  • Suspension (Rear): Full floater suspension system, fully adjustable spring preload, 4-way adjustable damping
  • Brakes (Front): Deca piston brake system, twin 310mm disc, floating type, hydraulic
  • Brakes (Rear): Disc brake hydraulic
  • Tyres: Front = 110/80 VR18 V260 radial - Rear = 160/60 VR18 V260 radial
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.2L (4.2 Imp. Gal
Modifications conducted over the years...  
The good bits: about the GSXR 1100  

Horsepower, brakes, fun factor, cost, distance travelling (eats miles), cheep insurance, zero deprecation, dependability, constant challenge, classic status. Parts are still easy to get and aren't too expensive. Some say the modern sports bikes are beginning to look all the same - this old slabside looks powerful & brutal!

Handling, handling and handling. The bike styling is not for everyone, which means some love it some don't. Similarily its a classic bike, some get it, some don't.

 

Consumables: is the GSXR 1100 expensive to run?  

The GSXR seems to be coping rather well and so far it's only consumed fuel. So far so good!

 

Favourite suppliers:  

I've only owned the GSXR for a few months and haven't had to get anything other than a licence plate (no its not from a big wheelie)

Malplates (licence plate supplier) order on-line and have receive the new plate in the post a couple days later!

 

Useful links for GSXR owners:  
   
The Dyno test:  

The Dyno test. Hmmm... the printout on the left is from a test conducted a few years back. We don't know if the bike is still knocking out 131.7 BHP at the rear wheel but it could come close to that figure.

The test estimated the GSXR's engine was producing approximately 145 BHP. Hmmm... pretty respectable figures for a 'classic bike'.

   

 
Here's what other members of DoctorDanger.com had to say after riding the 1987 Suzuki GSXR 1100.
   
Chris Kirby (Yamaha R1 owner)
   
Ricky Mullis (Suzuki TL1000S owner)
   
Dr. Andy Holmes (Norton Commando owner, Ducati owner, BSA owner...)