Katana Cult bike gets set to race
The Katana is back – and we’re racing it with Whit and Parrish Continued over
It was only around for three years in the early 80s, but the Katana made a big impact. Whether it was its futuristic, almost abstract, pointy-nose styling, or Suzuki’s claim it was the fastest production bike in the world, the 150mph Katana stamped its mark in the history books.
The GSX1000SD, to give it its full moniker, was released in 1981 and was quickly followed by the bigger GSX1100SD a year later. The Katana star shone brightly for that short time; it sold in its thousands and, even though the legacy of its revolutionary styling can be seen in every sporting Suzuki today, that was pretty much that. It was replaced in 1984 by the more conventional GSX1100EFE and the game-changing GSX-R750 followed a year later.
Fast forward three decades to a modern classic scene in full swing. The Katana is back and it’s formed the inspiration for the latest Suzuki Vintage Parts project.
Suzuki Vintage Parts sold more than £1.5m worth of new parts for old Suzuki models through the UK dealer network last year. Need a new fuel tank for an RGV250? The last place you’d think to look is your Suzuki shop, but that’s exactly where you’ll find one. And if they ever run out of stock they can produce more.
It was the brainchild of Suzuki GB’S Tim Davies, who had the idea to repackage the old parts stock gathering dust at their HQ, and has quickly turned into one of Suzuki’s biggest success stories in recent times.
Back to the future
To showcase the programme Suzuki Vintage Parts have built machines live at the NEC show. Three years ago they bolted a TL1000S together from scratch, the following year they restored a 1985 GSX-R750 and last year they created the bike you see in the pictures: the Team Classic Suzuki Katana endurance racer.
The plan is to race it at the Endurance 7 Legends four-hour endurance race at Donington on May 6 and 7. It’s Suzuki
GB’S first official racing entry since the old Heron Suzuki days of the 70s and 80s. Suzuki Vintage Parts are sponsoring the event, too. The riders will be James Whitham (who raced a proddy Katana back in the day), Steve Parrish and me.
“We’ve noticed an increase in demand of Katana parts,” says Suzuki’s Tim Davies. “Everything from screens, tanks, clocks, cranks, rods and pistons. This whole project has blown us away.
“We don’t know exactly how many Katanas are on the road now. Suzuki GB had 166 in 1981 for racing homologation and out of those well over 100 are still around. We get weekly calls from owners asking us to verify the provenance of their Katanas.”
Katana’s track return
We’re testing the Team Classic Suzuki Katana for the first time here at Rockingham. Like the TL1000S and GSX-R750 NEC show bikes, it has been meticulously constructed by Nathan Columbi who also builds Michael Dunlop’s Classic TT Suzuki XR69S.
‘The riders will be James Whitham, Steve Parrish and me’