FIRST A FEW WARM-UP exercises: go into your local brass, stained-glass
and ass pub, sit on a nice, padded bar stool and grasp, with both hands 18
inches apart, the thick brass rail around the bar. What are you? Yes, that's
right, you're in a comfy GSX1100G riding position. Award yourself a Goblin
Now, stay sat there, put your helmet on and grab a bungee. Stretch it from
the bottom lip of your visor over your head, down your back and hook it onto
your jeans so that your head is almost being ripped off. Then get three mates to
try to pull you backWards off your stool. Hold on tight, screw up your eyes,
open your mouth as wide as it will go, and say
ARGHHHHHHH!!! Voila: agonising GSX1100G riding position when accelerating
hard at lOOmph. Award yourself a thick and thin slice Russell Hobbs toaster.
Now try explaining your behaviour to the landlord.It'll be about as easy as
trying to explain the GSX1100G. I've been riding it for two weeks and I must
admit I'm knackered. Knackeredbecauseithasabitchin', 150mph GSX-R100-style
engine but also the wind-cheating ability of Cyril Smith towing a Swift caravan.
Knackered because the G is over 701bs heavier than a ZZ-R1100 and steers slower
than the Amoco Cadiz. In fact, l00 mph, shoulder-dislocating, neck bent double,
ARGHHHHHHH!-worth of knackered.
But what excellent entertainment.
Following hard on the Cuban heels of Kawasaki's Zephyrs (quote from Suzuki
brochure: "Wanting a standard motorcycle that looks just right shouldn't mean
having to put up with old technology like dual shocks, air-cooling and chain
drive" — what a giveaway), the G reminds that there can be more to biking good
times than cosetted fairings and clip-ons. And, drab VX800 looks aside, Suzuki
have chosen to do it with the subtlety of a randy Glaswegian.
The engine is absolutely where the GSX G is at. Metal and lots of it, in your
face, in their face, in everybody's face. Mush. It engenders a hewn-from-solid
machismo that only a bare smattering of bikes such as the CBX, Z1300 and V-Max
have ever had. And the way it delivers, in that chassis, with that riding
position, utterly defies its lOObhp spec sheet anonymity.
A couple of major changes set it apart from the long-known and loved
fire-breathing monster that has turned many a GSX-R1100 owner prematurely grey.
Shaft-drive on the outside, a subtle but extensive torque-fattening re-work on
the inside: 36-mil smoothbore carbs (instead of the latest R's 40s), reworked
cam-timing driven by hy-vo chain, an added gear-driven balancer shaft and
lowered overall ratios. The effect is to shove all the party happenings to
earlier in the day, calm them down, smooth them out and mellow it from its
rev-hungry, blitzkrieg brother.
This bike is smooth. Everything: the wide, comfortable seat, riding position
and surplus of shimmering chrome is polished-smooth even before you prod the
starter. And when you do the sensation is compounded. There's no conflict. The
beast awakens gently, serenely, cleanly. You're still aware that something
massively violent lurks within. But for the moment it's tame, gentle,
domesticated. Both the light yet sensitive hydraulic clutch and the neat snick
into first gear are immaculate. The carburation, tugging easily, smoothly,
impressively from under 2000rpm in any gear, is spot on. The shaft unnoticeable.
The GSX-G is the perfect hangover machine.
But it's still an awwwww-some GSX-R at heart. What else could it be when, one
minute you can be poncing around town, bolt upright, bum snuggled deeply into
the plush saddle, engine whistling sweetly, effortlessly, and you enjoying the
smug vista that enables you to see, comfortably, that that's a police car
three vehicles in front in the traffic queue, and the next minute threaten to
wreak hurricane, pestilence and plague all around; lay waste everything;
anihilate, accelerate and decimate with a simple roll of the throttle?
Just 100-horse the 'G' may be, but the racing, progressive way this thing
accelerates from a dawdling 3000rpm cleanly up to 7500, allied with that pearl
of a gearbox is utterly boggling. Give it cramp-ons and it would climb up walls.
But using that engine hard, repeatedly, rather than simply lazily lolling
around in top gear all day long, is where Suzuki's 'Classic Form, Modern
Function' concept begins to go awry. Easy torque and silky-smoothness is one
thing. But other engine by-products such as an indicated 150mph at the redline
in fifth and immense roll-on acceleration between 80 and 100 are infinitely more
perilous temptations when they live in this kind of chassis. With a 750 Zephyr,
small and sweet by comparison, and unlikely to ever best 110, there is no
problem, no temptation, no little devil on your shoulder egging you on much
beyond its handling capabilities. With the G there is. And he's a big, mean,
Suzuki has confronted the expected problems of this sit-up-and-beg GSX-R head
on. With straight-line stability as the most likely loser they've given the G a
full 62 inches of wheelbase, an 18-inch front wheel (heightened further by
wearing high profile but grippy Metzeler rubber) and stonkingly-raked and braced
43mm forks. I haven't seen such a kicked-out front end since the Kent Custom
Show. This thing has 32 degrees of rake and a full 156mm of trail! Compare that
to the GSX- Rll (25.5°/91mm), VFR750 (26/100mm) or even a KR-1S (24/90mm). That
makes even a V-Max (29/119mm) seem like the sprightly, flickable little thing it
most certainly isn't.
That this sort of overkill achieves its goal goes without saying. Stick it at
80 on the M6 and the G's so massively stable, so gentle, so comfortable, so
pleasing that all you need worry about is that crisp, clear view in the mirrors
and how many flies you'll have to scrape off the excellent headlight come tea
time. But the trade-off in terms of trying to tiller the darn thing around that
favourite roundabout, is, like everything else on the G, massive.
Precise, exact, flickable it's not even close to. Last minute wiggles past
cars don't bear thinking about. Lining up that perfect line through a corner is
a long-drawn-out and occasionally un-nerving prospect. The leverage through the
wide bars, well-sorted rear suspension, sufficient ground clearance and grippy
front tyre help. The slightly over-soft, non-adjustable front teles, pegs
positioned slightly too-far forward, brakes which provide plenty of feel but
need a long, hard haul and the sheer inertia of a massively powerful, slightly
top-heavy 5751b motorcycle don't.
Pushed, the G is always hard work, often exhilarating because of it, and,
sometimes, and most especially in the wet, can be absolutely terrifying. The
conceivable idea of a biking rookie jumping onto the G fresh from a 125 is
horrific. In the wrong hands, at the wrong moment, this is one of the most
'difficult' bikes around.
I've got more callouses and blisters on my hands now than after a month of
mad Sundays racing. After attacking the same corner over and over again for the
benefit of the camera, I was more exhausted than I thought possible. And after
repeated 35-miles blasts to work and back, day after day, my neck aches, my
jacket's plastered with flies and I've got the grip of a Scotsman on his wallet.
Conceptually, I realise that's not what the G is supposed to be for. It's for
people who want big engines but only use half of what they're capable of. But
this is GSX power and I defy anyone to resist using it, and using it all. The G,
with its chrome and cosyness, is trying to be sedate. But its engine tempts you
to be anything BUT sedate. On a Harley you can potter, cruise and throb. On the
G you can't resist the temptation to blast, squirt and annihilate. And when you
do you can get into all sorts of trouble. It's difficult (mentally) to ride
slowly. But it's also damn difficult (physically) to ride fast. That's the
dilemma and the drug.
The GSX-G has got the aura of a stomp strect bike but, comfort for both rider
and pillion apart, misses the mark on too many points. Switchgcar and
instruments (overly-pessimistic fuel gauge aside) are crisp, beautiful and
functional. But the steering lock is too limited, the seat, for anyone under six
foot, is too high and it's a veritable pain to get onto its main stand. Is that
the sort of' classic form' you want?
The riding position, though blissful at 6()mph isn't quite right either. It's
more upright that a Zephyr. The bars are higher so you get more windblast. The
pegs are further forward so you can't take as much weight on your feet. And
overall it's a much, much bigger, much more daunting prospect in every respect.
It's awesome and it remains awesome to everyone, those you pass, those you
Personally, the looks grew on me although I still prefer the alternate VX
colours of black, blue or maroon. It's nicely thought out, detailed and
well-finished. But when you think about this bike, please think about it
seriously. Forget the chrome and remember what it's lacking. Remember what an
FZR thou chassis can do, what an FJ12 fairing can do and what GSX-R brakes and
suspension can do. The GSX1100G arrogantly casts aside all that excellence and
marries GSX-R performance with upright bars, no fairing, dreary styling and
steering characteristics which have come out of the Ark.
Naturally, if you put it up against those standards, the G confuses. Nor is
it simply an 1100 Zephyr. But if you accept it simply as a plain, back to basics
heavyweight, appreciate full well its limitations, price and quite delicious
powertrain and you may be exhilarated, possibly occasionally terrified, but you
won't be disappointed.
Source Bike Magazine 1992