Katana Cult bike gets set to race

The Katana is back – and we’re racing it with Whit and Par­rish Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Michael Neevs SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER

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’

Nathan Columbi has hand-built the gor­geous Katana

It didn’t take long to get a sweet track set-up Tak­ing cen­tre-stage in the pit garage at Rock­ing­ham, the Katana is sim­ply stun­ning Whitham’s back and MCN’S man is his team-mate

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