111 bhp, 511 lbs, 145 mph


in the late 70s Suzuki were seeking to differentiate themselves from the other Japanese motorcycle manufacturers. Hence they asked the German Target design company, led by Hans Muth – ex-head of styling for BMW and the designer of the iconic BMW R90S – to come up with something radical. Hence the Katana (named after the Japanese Samurai sword) was born – arguably the second major factory custom after the ten years earlier Triumph Hurricane.


The Katana was radical by the standards of the day and inspired either love or hate. Extensive wind tunnel engineering resulted in the integrated fairing and overall wedge appearance. The riding position is much like that of a modern sports bike, low down and stretched out over the boxy tank and knees squeezed up to get your feet onto the rearsets. The bike is long (rake 29 degrees) and has stiff suspension (with anti-dive forks), so good for high speed riding. Overall appearance is one of aggression enhanced by the integrated paint job, two-tone saddle, black chrome exhausts and the cockpit like instruments behind the fly screen.


The engine is a tweaked version of the GSX 1100E , giving an additional 11 bhp. Changes were peripheral and included – carb re-jetting, changed exhaust timing, holes drilled in the airbox and combustion chamber gas flowing.


Demand for this first generation of “big Kats” was not at the level Suzuki had hoped and hence they lasted only from 1980 to 1983. However, sports bike design kept moving towards the original Katana – so Suzuki continued to produce many other variants of Katana across its capacity range. Some beautiful and some awful! The Katanas have also inspired many customs – and so original unmolested bikes are very rare today.


This bike is a 1983 big Kat in the rare “Bright Silver Metallic + Candy Imperial Maroon” colour – only used in 1983. It is original in every respect and is a stunning ride.

1983 Suzuki GSX 1100 Katana [1074cc Transverse four]

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