SUZUKI GSX-R1100G

Martin Child is back on with this hy­brid clas­sic/modern.

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS -

It was back in the mid-1990s that I last stripped and re­built an oil-cooled GSX-R and how times have changed. The brief back then was high-barred min­i­mal­ist – whip all the fair­ings off, throw the clip-ons in the bin, bolt on a set of Ren­thals and arm your­self with a sup­ply of spare sec­ond gear cogs. Then see how long you could make the front wheel re­dun­dant or how tor­tur­ous you could make the ex­is­tence of the rear tyre. Bloody happy days! Lit­tle did I know that those skids and wheel­ies would lead to a work­ing life in bikes (across var­i­ous mag­a­zines both in the UK and Aus­tralia) and mo­tor­cy­cling ex­pe­ri­ences that money just can’t buy (rid­ing the TT in 2000 was, and will al­ways be, my per­sonal bik­ing Ever­est). Yup, I’ve a lot of mem­o­ries and love for the old Gix­ers. But my mind­set is now more bal­anced and this lat­est chap­ter in my old Saaa­zooki port­fo­lio will have a de­fined look and feel – full fair­ings, great han­dling, and fit and fin­ish that can eas­ily pass for a fac­tory, road-le­gal (ish) race-rep. Can’t give up com­pletely now, can we?

To my eye, the two ar­eas that de­fine an Eight­ies slab-side GSX-R are the nomen­cla­ture-giv­ing rear pan­els and the trade­mark up-and-over dou­ble-cra­dle frame. And it’s that hoopy mass of alu­minium straights and bends that sits be­fore me on the garage floor. Armed with a mal­let and drift, I’ve evicted the old head­stock outer bear­ing shells and now I’m ready to do a makeover on it. And (un­like back in the day) this one won’t worry the Au­tosol or the buf­fer. Nope, black is where it’s at, baby. Af­ter a quick call to a lo­cal pow­der-coater, that idea quickly goes into the too hard/too ex­pen­sive bas­ket. Luck­ily, house and garage projects over the years have re­sulted in my shelves brim­ming with paints and po­tions, and it is here I grab some truck bed spray. This is a tough, tex­tured black spray de­signed for the tray area of pick-ups (or as Aussies say, beaut-utes), which re­sults in a Te­flon-on-steroids kinda look. It needs no primer and a cou­ple of coats later I’ve got a sharp-look­ing frame. See­ing fresh paint af­ter three weeks of clean­ing and dis­sem­bling scabby 30-year-old parts gives me a lift and I can’t wait to let the paint dry and start the re­assem­bly. So with the paint half-dry, I start re­assem­bling the frame. I drift the new bear­ing shells into the head­stock and then turn my at­ten­tion to the en­gine. Now where did I put that? With the en­gine com­pres­sion tested be­fore I stripped the bike, I know it’s ba­si­cally sound. So the ob­jec­tives are to per­form ba­sic ser­vic­ing and make it look pretty. With easy ac­cess to the top of the en­gine, I check the valves. It takes a bit of dig­ging to find the tol­er­ances on­line (Suzuki have cracked-down on peeps link­ing to free man­ual down­loads) and when one source gives the clear­ance as the same for both in­let and ex­hausts valves, I’m slightly scep­ti­cal. So I pony-up for a man­ual and, to my sur­prise, the clear­ances are the same – the 1986-1988 1100s have an 0.1 – 0.15mm in­let and ex­haust. This is the first time I’ve come across the same fig­ure for both. With the cam-cover back on, the starter mo­tor comes off and I mask the clean en­gine up for a spruce-up spray. I’ve found a pretty damn close colour match with, be­lieve it or not, plas­tic bumper spray. I reckon the en­gine’s heat won’t be a prob­lem but petrol prob­a­bly will be its down­fall. But hey, fuel really needs to stay on the in­side of the carbs and en­gine! With a steel rule I mea­sure the length of the en­gine case bolts and re­place them with stain­less items from my lo­cal fas­tener sup­plier. As I’m clearly not try­ing to repli­cate the fac­tory orig­i­nals, this is a cheap, quick and easy up­grade. With new gas­kets cut from a sheet of gas­ket ma­te­rial with un­corked scis­sors and hole punches, the smick en­gine is ready to go back home to the frame. As any­one that’s been plum-deep in an oil-cooled re­build will know, the right-hand frame rail on th­ese bikes is just bolted on. This de­parts to aid en­gine re­moval, which is made much eas­ier if you’ve got the frame bare to start with. With the oil-less en­gine on its side, you can wig­gle-wag­gle the frame over it enough to get a few

bolts into the en­gine. And to chip some of the new paint! Arse. Luck­ily, I’ve still got some paint left over and, as I’m guess­ing th­ese won’t be the last marks to touch-up, I’ll get to them later. With one side of the en­gine bolted in place, the whole she­bang can be up­righted to get the other side of the frame’s cra­dle in place. It now sits on its bot­tom rails un­aided and still. As I’ve al­ready drifted the head­stock shells in, it’s an easy job to slide the steer­ing head tube into the head­stock and bolt up the com­plete front-end us­ing the new ta­per bear­ing for the lower and the thrust ar­range­ment for the up­per. With the front wheel strapped to a floor clamp with a cou­ple of tie-downs and the rear frame rails tie-downed to the ceil­ing (down to the ceil­ing – come on, you know what I mean), I’ve a sta­ble plat­form to add the swingarm and 190-sec­tion rear hoop to. It’s as stiff the sec­ond time round (ooh er, mis­sus! – copy­right Sid James) and of­fers up a lovely fat one up the rear (prob­a­bly more Viz than Carry On that one…) Wheeled-out into the bright Aus­tralian sun, the rolling chas­sis looks awe­some. With the frame’s coat­ing com­ple­ment­ing the black of the hugely braced swingarm, it’s left for to the en­gine’s dark grey and the gold of the fork legs to stand out and hint of the per­for­mance and style of the re­born GSX-R1100. I’ve had to slightly space out the footrest hang­ers to clear the swinger, but she’s now a steer-able, brake-able, lean-against-a-tree-able rolling chas­sis. Un­like ear­lier in­car­na­tions, th­ese GSX-R1000 wheels have no cast cen­tre ridge and thin­ner spokes so the bike looks lighter than ever. The front wheel’s mud­guard is un­marked so I won’t need to re­move it to spray it, as it matches in with the red and black scheme I’ve got in mind. The list of items needed for a build like this is as vast as it is long. From es­sen­tials like bolts, oils and brake pads, to the check-your­self-be­fore-you-wreck-your­self dreams of chat­ter­ing flat­slides and roar­ing full-race sys­tems. A 2x1m slab of card­board on the garage wall be­comes the shop­ping list and on­line be­comes the ma­jor arena that th­ese dol­lar-dreams are played out in. Shorty brake levers, bar-end weights, grips and a new ig­ni­tion switch are the first items de­liv­ered to my door and clean up the cock­pit in­stantly. And the bonus is they don’t dent the bud­get too much. But an ig­ni­tion switch isn’t much use if it isn’t con­nected to any­thing and it’s not just a case of throw­ing the orig­i­nal electrics back on, as I’ve got a dirty big shock reser­voir dom­i­nat­ing the space where the bat­tery and 90% of the bike’s elec­tri­cally-re­lated gub­bins nor­mally sit. So, I’ll call it a day there. And judg­ing from the clock mounted on the fridge, it’s a good a time as any for a nice cold beer. Next month I’m find­ing space for the ig­ni­tion com­po­nents then fig­ur­ing out if the later bike’s switchgear will fit. Next month I’m on my multi-me­ter for ages, try­ing to get my mo­tor run­ning (ooh-er mis­sus!) Trust me, it’s a lot more frus­trat­ing than it sounds! Cheers!

Hang­ing to dry...

The paint looks good!

Smaller bits sorted.

Frame dry and sorted. We like very much!

Looks good in there, doesn’t it?

Nice sparkle in the fin­ish.

Time to sort clear­ances!

Rolling chas­sis is ready to go.

She’s com­ing on great guns.

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