A Suzuki Katana Collection Unlike Any Other

Suzuki Katana collector Ken Edgar shows us his collection of Suzukis, featuring every production U.S. Katana model, the Target Design ED-2 prototype, an original 1982 Katana in the crate and more.

| January/February 2019

  • Looking for a new direction, Suzuki-Germany marketing director Manfred Becker initiated the idea of a completely new and attention-grabbing motorcycle, retaining the services of a newly created firm, Target Design, to produce the first concept studies of a new design based on the production GS550 and GS650 models
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • A 1983 GS650MD (left), 1983 GS750MD (middle), 1983 GS1100SD (rear) and a KISS pinball machine (right).
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • Another view of the handbuilt Target Design ED-2 prototype made for Suzuki.
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • A large, outdoor Suzuki dealer sign (left), a 1982 GS550MZ and the original Target Design ED-2 prototype (right).
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • Ken’s 1982 GS1000SZ, which was featured in The Art of the Motorcycle exhibit.
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • Collector Ken Edgar.
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • The outside of the warehouse where the collection lives.
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • An original 1982 Katana GS1000SZ, still in the crate.
    Photo by Drew Shipley
  • Based on the current Suzuki GSX-S1000F, the new Katana features that bike’s twin-spar aluminum frame and 148 horsepower, 999cc fuel-injected double overhead cam four.
    Photo by Drew Shipley

Down an alley off Main Street in Willoughby, Ohio, stands an innocuous, two-story brick building. Inside lies the culmination of one man’s 35-year obsession with a unique and groundbreaking motorcycle, Suzuki’s incredible Katana.

The obsession began in 1982 when Ken Edgar, then just 14 years old, first laid his eyes on the then-new and radically designed Suzuki Katana. The name, borrowed from a Japanese samurai sword, made the new bike’s mission clear. Edgar was thunderstruck.

And while many teenage boys develop an attachment or fascination with a particular motorcycle or car, with the passing of time the attraction and excitement fades. In Ken’s case, however, it just got stronger. After four summers of working landscaping, scrounging and saving, Ken bought his first Katana. It was used and not in the best of shape, but it was his – finally – and it became the starting point for a unique and comprehensive collection of this milestone motorcycle.

The Katana

In the late 1970s, Suzuki’s GS750 and GS1000 4-cylinder models were very capable motorcycles. Like the Honda CB750, Kawasaki KZ900 and other 4-cylinder bikes of the day, they were among the UJMs, or Universal Japanese Motorcycles, so named for their seemingly universal application of almost identical technical specifications. Looking for a new direction, Suzuki-Germany marketing director Manfred Becker initiated the idea of a completely new and attention-grabbing motorcycle, retaining the services of a newly created firm, Target Design, to produce the first concept studies of a new design based on the production GS550 and GS650 models.



The three partners in Target Design, Hans Muth, Hans-Georg Kasten and Jan Fellstrom, had been lead designers with the BMW Motorrad studios. Target Design’s proposal for the GS550/650, known as ED-1 (European Design 1), was enthusiastically approved by Suzuki-Germany, and subsequently by Suzuki Japan, which assigned Masao Tani as the project manager and engineer. In fact, this first design was so well received that Suzuki asked Target to work on another prototype concept study based on their production GS1100.

With the acceptance of the first prototype, Target felt they could push the envelope a bit further with a second design. Known internally as ED-2, this is the design usually associated with the Katana. As with the GS550 concept, the GS1100 design presentation included numerous sketches, scale renderings and a full-size model. The ED-2 concept Katana was first shown publicly at the Cologne Motorcycle Show in the fall of 1980, and the mission of bringing significant attention to Suzuki was accomplished, as motorcycle magazines around the world published photos and enthusiastic commentary about this unique and groundbreaking new design. Love it or hate it, it couldn’t be ignored.



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