1978 Suzuki GS1000
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Tom’s 1978 Suzuki GS1000
Tom found the bike featured here on Craigslist. “It was not only good looking, but also restorable,” Tom remembers. “Most of the original equipment was there. There was a custom seat, and custom headers on the bike, but the owner had saved the original pipes. He had put British emblems on it and braided steel brake lines.” One attraction to this find was its low serial number. “It was one of the first GS1000s Suzuki made, built December 1977,” Tom says. “I bought the bike and started going to work.”
Tom was also working on a customized hot rod GS1000 at the same time, and once he found a stock seat, the custom seat went on the hot rod. The exhaust was a problem, but then Tom found a set of stock pipes and mufflers on eBay. “They were beautiful — and I paid premium,” he says. The resulting empty pockets were only temporary, as Tom turned around and sold all the extra parts, enabling him to make back a lot of his outlay. At this point, the only non-stock parts on this GS are the braided steel brake lines.
Although Tom prizes his GSs, he admits they have a few quirks. The valves need occasional adjusting, which is done with shims that aren’t always available from the local dealer, but they are available by mail order with a little searching. Synching the four carburetors is a bit of a chore, but once done right, Tom says, they stay synched.
Tom adds that his Suzuki GS1000 is cold blooded, and takes a while to warm up. “I start the bike, and leave it on half choke while I put my helmet and gloves on,” he explains. “By the time I hit the second light, it’s warm. I put modern tires on the bike — they are reminiscent of the era, but they stick to the road.”
When it comes to power, Tom has no complaints. “This bike is amazing. It has plenty of power, and I can zip in and out of traffic. On the freeway, it’s running 75-80mph at 5,000rpm and loafing — it’s got plenty more to give at those speeds.”
Unlike most Japanese fours of this era, the Suzuki is enjoyable in the turns. “I can dance on the bike,” says Tom. “It loves the twisties, this bike handles so well. We just love the hills.” And it stops pretty well, too. “The brakes are effective, but the single front disc takes some getting used to,” Tom adds.
“I first fell in love with Suzukis in the Seventies,” Tom explains. “They fit me. Suzukis have never let me down. I sometimes look at my bike and think, how many have survived the last 30 years, how many are out there? I’m proud to have a survivor.” MC
“Suzuki wins The Common Sense Award for boosting the displacement up, keeping the weight down and remembering that superbikes with super engines should also be super handlers.” — Cycle Guide, February 1978
“During hard, fast cornering, the GS1000 is sheer brilliance for a 1000cc, transverse-engined, four-cylinder, 83hp brute: mostly because it feels lighter and nimbler than the other 1000cc fours.” — Cycle Guide, February 1978