Thank you for an article on one bike I particularly like. I was the owner of a Suzuki GSX1100ET, black with red and orange stripes purchased from John Dunn Motorcycles, Crows Nest (long since closed). In the story, mention was made that they were available in 1979 but not in sufficient numbers to be homologated for the 1979 Castrol Six Hour race. I do not believe this is correct. I remember seeing one displayed, unheralded and said to be a prototype, at the Sydney Motor Show in 1979. The show was held, I think, about August or September. The colour scheme displayed was totally different to any production model being mid-brown with striping more reminiscent of that used on the later 1981 model. At the time of the show I had on order a GS1000S but after seeing the GSX1100 changed my order. I collected my GSX1100 in February 1980 and believe it was one of the first delivered. It was so new that when a friend dropped it a month or so later, fortunately at walking pace, he damaged the ignition and I had to wait for the parts to be imported as spares were not yet carried in stock. At the same time I was waiting for engine (crash) bars to become available which I had ordered with the motorcycle. The bikes that were delivered early in 1980 came standard with a 19 litre tank. Later, about mid-year, a 24 litre tank became standard fitment. I purchased a large tank and fitting required no changes as the colour schemes and mounting were identical. It is unlikely this was a model change and the following 1981 paint scheme was different. Some thoughts and recollections I would like to add. The seat was one of the most comfortable I have ever experienced; only bettered in my experience by a 1500 Gold Wing. One party trick when travelling
along country roads was to travel about 120km/h or so at which speed the bike was economical. All my riding companions would be frustrated when it came time to refill as my bike would require noticeably less to refill than their bikes. Sit on greater than 130km/h and the story was different with similar consumption to other 1000cc bikes. At the time the GS Suzukis had a strong claim to being the best handling of the Japanese motorcycles. Unfortunately as noted in the story the GSX, particularly with the gun Pirelli Phantoms fitted, were not as good. A fork brace did not cure the problem. Warren Willing’s solution as mentioned would have been much cheaper and more effective had I known. At the motor show the staff did not think that the aluminium swing arm would be included on the production model. It was, and the welding was a revelation with textbook fillets. This was at a time when the welding on Japanese frames left much to be desired. You always had to be careful with the right wrist. Even after ten years ownership it could bite. During my ownership it did cease to be the fastest bike around but was still able to keep the newer rocket ships honest. I had many trouble free kilometres on the GSX and still regret selling it in 1990. Where are you now, QX-770? Greg Jeanes West Ryde, NSW
The Sydney Motor Show was in August 1979, where the GXX1100 made its world debut, reported as “the best-kept secret of the year”. The GSX only arrived on August 15, two days before the show, and staff at Suzuki Cornell “were caught completely off guard” by the unexpected arrival. It was seen as a major coup as the launch preceded the Earls Court International Motorcycle Show in London by one week. Moreover, Suzuki said that the GSX would not begin production until at least October, ruling it ineligible for the 1979 Castrol Six Hour Race. For your letter Greg, you win a Raritee t-shirt with your choice of motorcycle, although I wouldn’t mind betting it’s a GSX1100.
The Suzuki GSX1100 at the 1979 Sydney Motor Show.