Air/oil cooled, four stroke, transverse fourcylinder, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder.
Bore x Stroke
78 x 59 mm
4x Mikuni BST36
Ignition / Starting
– / electric
98 hp @ 7500 rpm
99 Nm 73 ft-lb @ 4750 rpm
Transmission / Drive
5 Speed / shaft
43mm Telescopic forks
Full floater monoshock 5-way preload 20-waycompression 4-way rebound damping.
2x 310mm disc 4 piston calipers
Single 296mm disc 2 piston caliper
11.5 sec / 118 mp/h
FIRST A FEW WARM-UPexercises: go into your local brass, stained-glass and ass pub, siton a nice, padded bar stool and grasp, with both hands 18 inchesapart, the thick brass rail around the bar. What are you? Yes,that's right, you're in a comfy GSX1100G riding position. Awardyourself a Goblin Teasmaid.
Now, stay sat there, put your helmeton and grab a bungee. Stretch it from the bottom lip of your visorover your head, down your back and hook it onto your jeans so thatyour head is almost being ripped off. Then get three mates to tryto pull you backwards off your stool. Hold on tight, screw up youreyes, open your mouth as wide as it will go, and say
ARGHHHHHHH!!! Voila: agonisingGSX1100G riding position when accelerating hard at lOOmph. Awardyourself a thick and thin slice Russell Hobbs toaster.
Now try explaining your behaviour tothe landlord.It'll be about as easy as trying to explain theGSX1100G. I've been riding it for two weeks and I must admit I'mknackered. Knackeredbecauseithasabitchin', 150mph GSX-R100-styleengine but also the wind-cheating ability of Cyril Smith towing aSwift caravan. Knackered because the G is over 701bs heavier than aZZ-R1100 and steers slower than the Amoco Cadiz. In fact, l00 mph,shoulder-dislocating, neck bent double, ARGHHHHHHH!-worth ofknackered.
But what excellententertainment.
Following hard on the Cuban heels ofKawasaki's Zephyrs (quote from Suzuki brochure: “Wanting a standardmotorcycle that looks just right shouldn't mean having to put upwith old technology like dual shocks, air-cooling and chain drive”— what a giveaway), the G reminds that there can be more to bikinggood times than cosetted fairings and clip-ons. And, drab VX800looks aside, Suzuki have chosen to do it with the subtlety of arandy Glaswegian.
The engine is absolutely where theGSX G is at. Metal and lots of it, in your face, in their face, ineverybody's face. Mush. It engenders a hewn-from-solid machismothat only a bare smattering of bikes such as the CBX, Z1300 andV-Max have ever had. And the way it delivers, in that chassis, withthat riding position, utterly defies its lOObhp spec sheetanonymity.
A couple of major changes set itapart from the long-known and loved fire-breathing monster that hasturned many a GSX-R1100 owner prematurely grey. Shaft-drive on theoutside, a subtle but extensive torque-fattening re-work on theinside: 36-mil smoothbore carbs (instead of the latest R's 40s),reworked cam-timing driven by hy-vo chain, an added gear-drivenbalancer shaft and lowered overall ratios. The effect is to shoveall the party happenings to earlier in the day, calm them down,smooth them out and mellow it from its rev-hungry, blitzkriegbrother.
This bike is smooth. Everything: thewide, comfortable seat, riding position and surplus of shimmeringchrome is polished-smooth even before you prod the starter. Andwhen you do the sensation is compounded. There's no conflict. Thebeast awakens gently, serenely, cleanly. You're still aware thatsomething massively violent lurks within. But for the moment it'stame, gentle, domesticated. Both the light yet sensitive hydraulicclutch and the neat snick into first gear are immaculate. Thecarburation, tugging easily, smoothly, impressively from under2000rpm in any gear, is spot on. The shaft unnoticeable. The GSX-Gis the perfect hangover machine.
But it's still an awwwww-some GSX-Rat heart. What else could it be when, one minute you can be poncingaround town, bolt upright, bum snuggled deeply into the plushsaddle, engine whistling sweetly, effortlessly, and you enjoyingthe
smug vista that enables you to see,comfortably, that that's a police car three vehicles in front inthe 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 thethrottle?
Just 100-horse the 'G' may be, butthe racing, progressive way this thing accelerates from a dawdling3000rpm cleanly up to 7500, allied with that pearl of a gearbox isutterly boggling. Give it cramp-ons and it would climb upwalls.
But using that engine hard,repeatedly, rather than simply lazily lolling around in top gearall day long, is where Suzuki's 'Classic Form, Modern Function'concept begins to go awry. Easy torque and silky-smoothness is onething. But other engine by-products such as an indicated 150mph atthe redline in fifth and immense roll-on acceleration between 80and 100 are infinitely more perilous temptations when they live inthis kind of chassis. With a 750 Zephyr, small and sweet bycomparison, and unlikely to ever best 110, there is no problem, notemptation, no little devil on your shoulder egging you on muchbeyond its handling capabilities. With the G there is. And he's abig, mean, evil bugger.
Suzuki has confronted the expectedproblems of this sit-up-and-beg GSX-R head on. With straight-linestability as the most likely loser they've given the G a full 62inches of wheelbase, an 18-inch front wheel (heightened further bywearing high profile but grippy Metzeler rubber) andstonkingly-raked and braced 43mm forks. I haven't seen such akicked-out front end since the Kent Custom Show. This thing has 32degrees 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). Thatmakes even a V-Max (29/119mm) seem like the sprightly, flickablelittle thing it most certainly isn't.
That this sort of overkill achievesits goal goes without saying. Stick it at 80 on the M6 and the G'sso massively stable, so gentle, so comfortable, so pleasing thatall you need worry about is that crisp, clear view in the mirrorsand how many flies you'll have to scrape off the excellentheadlight come tea time. But the trade-off in terms of trying totiller the darn thing around that favourite roundabout, is, likeeverything else on the G, massive.
Precise, exact, flickable it's noteven close to. Last minute wiggles past cars don't bear thinkingabout. Lining up that perfect line through a corner is along-drawn-out and occasionally un-nerving prospect. The leveragethrough the wide bars, well-sorted rear suspension, sufficientground clearance and grippy front tyre help. The slightlyover-soft, non-adjustable front teles, pegs positioned slightlytoo-far forward, brakes which provide plenty of feel but need along, 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 mostespecially in the wet, can be absolutely terrifying. Theconceivable idea of a biking rookie jumping onto the G fresh from a125 is horrific. In the wrong hands, at the wrong moment, this isone of the most 'difficult' bikes around.
I've got more callouses and blisterson my hands now than after a month of mad Sundays racing. Afterattacking the same corner over and over again for the benefit ofthe camera, I was more exhausted than I thought possible. And afterrepeated 35-miles blasts to work and back, day after day, my neckaches, my jacket's plastered with flies and I've got the grip of aScotsman on his wallet.
Conceptually, I realise that's notwhat the G is supposed to be for. It's for people who want bigengines but only use half of what they're capable of. But this isGSX 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. Butits engine tempts you to be anything BUT sedate. On a Harley youcan potter, cruise and throb. On the G you can't resist thetemptation to blast, squirt and annihilate. And when you do you canget into all sorts of trouble. It's difficult (mentally) to rideslowly. 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 astomp 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 andfunctional. But the steering lock is too limited, the seat, foranyone under six foot, is too high and it's a veritable pain to getonto its main stand. Is that the sort of' classic form' youwant?
The riding position, though blissfulat 6()mph isn't quite right either. It's more upright that aZephyr. The bars are higher so you get more windblast. The pegs arefurther forward so you can't take as much weight on your feet. Andoverall it's a much, much bigger, much more daunting prospect inevery respect. It's awesome and it remains awesome to everyone,those you pass, those you squash.
Personally, the looks grew on mealthough I still prefer the alternate VX colours of black, blue ormaroon. It's nicely thought out, detailed and well-finished. Butwhen you think about this bike, please think about it seriously.Forget the chrome and remember what it's lacking. Remember what anFZR thou chassis can do, what an FJ12 fairing can do and what GSX-Rbrakes and suspension can do. The GSX1100G arrogantly casts asideall that excellence and marries GSX-R performance with uprightbars, no fairing, dreary styling and steering characteristics whichhave come out of the Ark.
Naturally, if you put it up againstthose 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 deliciouspowertrain and you may be exhilarated, possibly occasionallyterrified, but you won't be disappointed.