Photo Gallery

With apologies to Pink Floyd. Anyway, here are a few pics.

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And now, we gaze at the heart of the matter. The GSX engine has to just about be the most visceral engine ever concocted. Well done Suzuki!

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Mind you, there are a few design foibles to be found. Like, here (below) we have the world's smallest fuel tap. Fine if your fingers aren't gloved, but desperate moments can be had trying to switch to 'Reserve' with a thick winter gauntlet.

And, 'TSCC'? Well, it stands for 'Twin Swirl Combustion Chamber': a hangover from an age when each of the Big Four Jap bike manufacturers just had to have their own acronym. Like they still do, come to think of it.

[Another one of my favourite acronyms is found on many XJ Yamahas from the 80's: 'YICS' — 'Yamaha Induction Control System'. All that means is, they linked the inlet manifolds with a horizontal galley-way. Bewdiful. But it was a right-proper pain in the neck when you wanted to balance the carbies, because you needed Yamaha Special Tool No. 90890-04068 to shut off the galley-way... which wasn't a cheap tool to buy, of course.]

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And the clocks? Well, yes, they're the original items. As you can see the needles are prone to disintegration as the years roll by. One day I will get that tachometer needle fixed, but it's not that essential, and having a busted tacho needle kind of adds a bit character, eh.

Now of course it would be a bit optimistic to think that the old girl has only 43K kilometres on the odometer, wouldn't it. So is it 143K... or 243K... or? Who will ever know? I for one will certainly never really care. The engines are bullet-proof (but not completely idiot-proof; nothing will save an engine if it is thrashed on filthy oil) and the overall engineering is robust and built to last.

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The CV carbies work fine; just keep them clean and balanced and all will be well. Think twice before you take the popular option of attaching pod-style air filters; out here in WWW-land there are a few reports of things running erratically if you ditch the airbox and go with a set of pods. It appears the CV carbies need steady airflow to work at their best, and the minor variations in air pressure fostered by turbulence behind the pods, can upset steady carburettor function. But then there are other folks who reckon that if you take the time and effort to get the carb/ pod filter combination jetted properly, then all is well and you are transported to the next level of motorcycling bliss. So the verdict? Like we said at the start: think twice...

Having said that, I got my mits (July 2007) on a set of '89-'90 36mm GSX-R carbies. Full account of the proceedings here. Let's just say the upgrade was WELL WORTH IT. grin

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And those funny looking units bolted to the leading side of the front forks? Yes folks, it's another fashion of the 80's: Antidive!

The idea is that when you hit the front brakes... well, why don't we let Suzuki speak for themselves:

"Suzuki's anti-dive system, developed from the feedback of racing technology, is now equipped on many of Suzuki's 1982 models. The new system is attached to the outer tube of the front fork. The brake line of the front brakes master cylinder leading to the caliper is connected by a hose to the antidive device. When the master cylinder's hydraulic line functions to brake the front wheel, it simultaneously operates the anti-dive device's plunger, which regulates and limits the flow of oil in the front fork. This reduces the compression of the front fork, which also reduces the extension of the rear shock absorber. Hence, the device serves to counteract the change in the motorcycle's attitude during braking." (from the Suzuki GSX 750/1000/1100 Supplementary Service Manual, Sept. 1981, p.6)

Now that was a stunning piece of flowing prose. But of course what we all want to know is, Does anti-dive work? The answer is, Yeah sort of. If the anti-dive units are in good working order, the system does indeed prevent front-end dive under heavy braking. However...

However, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for stiffer springs, better damping and properly-tuned suspension (and, looking at the photo above, stainless fasteners...). And for proof of that, look around you: are any current manufacturers using anti-dive? Let's just say that the complete absence is instructive.

The real disadvantage of anti-dive, is that it makes the brakes a complete and utter pain in the neck if you're trying to bleed air out of the system — for example, after you've overhauled the calipers. So if you're having trouble bleeding the air from your brakes with their anti-dive setup... well, you're in good company. If you want a possible solution, click here.

Or, are you after a clear, user-friendly article on the basics of tweaking your suspension settings for best effect? Patrick at oldskoolsuzuki.info has done an excellent write-up; once on the site, navigate to 'Seven-Eleven' and then the link to 'Suspension Setup for Dummies'.

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Lots of folks ditch the wheels/ swingarm/ forks etc. on their old Kats, but I reckon that if you keep the original equipment properly maintained, it does the job and looks good too. Back in '04 I replaced the rear wheel bearings, slotted in new brake pads, popped on a replacement disc (the old one was wafer-thin), reconditioned the rear brake master cylinder, and put in a new master cylinder diaphragm. Should be right for another couple of decades now. And don't you love that throaty-looking zorst?

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Just bought a new tank for the bike (April 2005), as the old one has 1/2 a ton of filler in it after a decent spill sometime in the murky past. So now I've got a little bit of work to do, filling some very small dents, respraying, etc. And by a happy coincidence, my ignition key opens the tank cap lock! But maybe that's more to do with Suzuki locks being of rather, err, average quality.

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The latest nifty eBay purchase (July 2005) has been an original Suzuki showroom poster of the GSX1100 engine. Now I can pull down the portrait of Her Majesty that's currently over the fireplace, and replace it with this. I'm a Republican at last...

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27th Sept. 2005 — got some "1170" decals made up for the fairing side scoops. No more undiscerning souls asking me if the bike is the 750!

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Well here's a shot of the current workshop area (April 2006). A bit on the cramped side, but that just means I have to finish one project before I start another — not altogether a bad thing! Numbered key below the photo.

  1. Unfeasibly shiny toolbox.
  2. Spotlight on a pole. Always helps to see what I'm taking that angle grinder to.
  3. Second Katana seat, with grabrail so the good wife doesn't topple off.
  4. The arc welder. And my welding skills? Now where did I put that angle grinder...
  5. Ye Olde Compressor. Made by the father-in-law from a piece of old bore casing and one ancient fridge compressor. A truly legendary piece of equipment.
  6. The Flying Banana.
  7. Drum of BP oil with drum pump. Heaps easier than pouring the stuff into measuring containers and fiddling about with funnels, etc.
  8. Belstaff for the wet stuff.
  9. Old Suzuki showroom poster of the mighty GSX1100 engine. I could gaze at it for hours. And I often do.
  10. Full fairing that came with the bike. I have never put it on, and frankly I can't see the point of (i) covering up that gutsy-looking engine, and (ii) interfering with the airflow. So it makes a great cuppa holder when I'm pounding stuff with a big hammer on the workbench.
  11. Fire extinguisher in case things go pyrotechnically pear-shaped.
  12. Vice. It's the only one I have, honest.
  13. Escape route in case the fire extinguisher doesn't do the job.

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Latest little eBay purchase (Aug. 2006) is a 'Micron' fork brace. I must say that when I pulled this thing out of the box, it exceeded all my expectations. It is very nicely made, neat as a pin, brilliant design. Originally off a GSX1100ET but it fitted my Katana perfectly.

So are these things any good? Well they do stiffen things up a bit, but really who cares... it looks a million bucks!

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And Finally...

Who is it? William "Wild Bill" Gelbke. And what is it? His home-built, err, motorcycle. Article by the current owner here. More info. in Wikipedia here. Another article with specs here. Don't try this at home. Ever.

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