The Super Suzuki GS1000S
Suzuki took their relationship with Wes Cooley to the bank with the limited-edition Suzuki GS1000S.
The Wes Cooley Replica GS1000S.
Photo by Neale Bayly
Claimed power: 90p @ 9,000rpm
Top speed: 130mph (est.)
Engine: 997cc air-cooled DOHC inline 4 cylinder, 64.8mm x70.0mm bore and stroke, 9.2:1 compression ratio
Weight (wet): 525lb (238kg)
MPG: 5gal (19 liters)/35-55mpg
Price then/now: $3,679/$2,500-$4,500
At a rough moment in his family’s life, John Harris had to sell his prized 1979 Suzuki GS1000S, a bike he had bought brand new. “In 1987 we were in a tough situation,” John recalls, “but it was one of those choices you have to make, and it was just a part of life.”
No trailer queen, John’s GS1000S was well ridden. The bike had covered some 40,000 miles, with about 25,000 of those added to the clock in the first 18 months of ownership. Just months after he bought it, he and his wife toured 1,800 miles on the GS, carrying their luggage in a tank bag and soft-sided saddlebags. The bike was an everyday rider, and regardless of the weather, John wasn’t afraid to ride. He’d don a snowmobile suit and thumb the starter button even when it was a chilly 15 degrees outside.
Originally from Kansas, John began tinkering with cars when he was 11 years old, dragging home a Model A Ford that didn’t run. He discovered a broken distributor shaft, and after sourcing a used component the A was a runner — John says he’d take the car out and cruise the dirt roads surrounding town without causing much of a stir.
From that moment on, John became interested in wrenching on machines that went fast, and motorcycles fit that description, so in 1967 he bought a Matchless G15. He dabbled with motorcycle racing, but took his need for speed to another level in a Corvette and a Lola Formula Continental in Sports Car Club of America events. Then, in the late 1970s, he found a job in Tulsa, Okla. During an exploratory trip of his new city he discovered Johnny White’s Suzuki dealership, and he stopped into the showroom to see what was new.
Discovering the Suzuki GS1000S
“It was the styling of the GS1000S that first drew me to it,” John says. “And then when I heard that each Suzuki dealer in the U.S. got only one S to sell, that really piqued my interest. After I test rode it, I was hooked.”
Produced for only two years, 1979 and 1980, the Suzuki GS1000S was introduced just one year after the 1978 launch of the standard GS1000 and slightly sportier GS1000E models.
In 1978, Suzuki was just joining the 1,000cc party, as other manufacturers had already introduced liter-sized engines and, in some cases, even larger capacity power plants. In 1977, Kawasaki introduced the KZ1000, a big-bore, multi-cylinder machine. Although not in the same class, Honda had the touring GL1000 Gold Wing that hit roads in 1975, and Honda’s six-cylinder CBX was on offer starting in 1978. That same year, Yamaha presented the XS1100, and some of the Europeans, including BMW, Ducati and Laverda, had “liter” bikes.
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