1980 Suzuki GSX1100: Muscle Mania
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1980 Suzuki GSX1100: Muscle Mania

By BikeReview - 13 January 2021


When released, the GSX11 was the fastest standard bike around, with its new 16-valve engine, leading axle front forks and dual front, single rear disc brakes. Its market placement was also ideal as muscle bike meets tourer.

As if this wasn’t enough, Robbie Phillis immortalised this bike for owner Roger in his younger years and left a lasting impression. “I race a GSX1100,” says Roger, “and I always do the Island Classic and World Supers in the Historic category, and some Broadford and Winton too. “I own Robbie Phillis bikes – the Katana and GSX and my everyday ride is a black GSX just like this one, just not as tidy!”

The bodywork remains stock. but the guard has been modified to sit lower.

With a history of owning GSX1100s it was probably inevitable that Roger would end up with this one, in the end trading his tinny for the bike – an arrangement which sounds pretty good from our end and which probably has Speedy – the mate who he traded with – shaking his head now that the end result is on show.

The big air cooled motor is fed by silky smooth 34mm Mikuni BSS4SS carburettors and makes 100bhp.

The fact the bike was already partially restored, not to mention having very low kays was the dealmaker, particularly since the bike was in a box and needing a not-inconsiderable amount of effort to be back in one piece.

At this point of acquisition – 2005 for Roger – the real question is of course how will the restoration be done? Dyed in the wool original, or with a more liberal approach.

Roger, as you can see, chose the former and explains, “I wanted to keep it stock with the wide tyres and low looks.”

The engine itself is stock, boasting the bikes original 72 x 66mm bore and stroke, for a total of 1074cc of raw power, contributing to the 220km/h top speed and substantial 100 horsepower.

HPC Coated exhaust headers look fantastic.

The most attention, engine wise, was paid to the crankcases which needed to be properly cleaned and repainted, with everything else remaining totally stock, including the airfilter, carb’s and manifolds.

The original switches are in great condition. Mirrors are missing.
Original throttle, master-cylinder and grips.

The one major change in this area is of course the exhaust – a Tingate four-into-one system, which while not strictly original is renowned for being the performance choice for this machine. The system includes the headers, collector box and muffler and is tuned by Lyell Williamson. It also sounds absolutely wicked too, which is always a bonus.

Original 5-speed gearbox is retained as is clutch.

The stock five-speed gearbox remains in good condition, as does the clutch, which hasn’t even needed a rebuild. The chain primary and final drive is retained with the latter so clean you could eat off it.

The big 1074cc, air-cooled, four-stroke, inline four-cylinder, DOHC, four valves per cylinder motor is stock.

The frame has seen some work, simply for strengthening purposes, before being powder coated back to black for the original look. The triple-clamps are painted black to match, while the fork brace has simply been polished.

Koni rear shocks improve the ride over standard.
Polished Akront rims with HPC coated hubs, braced swingarm.

Keeping the rear of the bike in order and in contact with the ground are the stock Koni shocks, while on the front end the forks have been ‘tricked up’ as well as shortened, helping to provide the bike with a more aggressive profile.

Akront alloy spoked wheels adorn both the front and rear of the bike, with 18in rims, while the spokes and rims are polished and the hubs are HPC coated.

The GSX looks stock enough but also has neat added upgrades.

The bodywork remains relatively stock, including the tank, side covers and tail unit, while the front guard has been modified to sit lower. The rear guard remains unchanged, while the bike makes use of the original seat.

Pinstriping extends to the guard. Nice attention to detail.
Take a look at the size of the original dash. These were trick for 1980. 

The stunning paint job was done by Status Customs Albury, using two-pac and following the original colour scheme – in keeping with the original restoration theme.

Four-into-one Tingate exhaust system.
Big and comfy, the way superbikes were 40-years ago.

“It’s a lovely bike and I’ve enjoyed doing every part of it,” Roger says, “But I don’t want to think about how many hours I’ve invested or how much cash I’ve sunk into the project.

“It’s exactly what I have always wanted and it’s a real head turner. People stop and have a real good look wherever I go on the bike and I have won plenty of bike shows”.

Massive old school halogen glass headlight, so 1980!


ENGINE: 1074cc, air-cooled, four stroke, inline four-cylinder, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, four 34mm Mikuni BSS4SS carburettors, 9.5:1 compression, chain final drive

CLAIMED POWER: 100hp@8700rpm


CHASSIS: 1980 strengthened powdercoated GSX1100 frame, HPC coated swingarm

SUSPENSION: Modified telescopic front fork internals and shortened forks, Koni rear shocks.

BRAKES: Dual 275mm front rotors with single-piston calipers, single 275mm rear rotor with two-piston calipers.

WHEELS: Polished Akront 2.75 x 18 (f), 5 x 18 (r) with HPC coated hubs, Michelin tyres.

Protect your motorbike. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.