Suzuki GSXR1100: Skoal Bandit
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Suzuki GSXR1100: Skoal Bandit

By BikeReview - 28 September 2021

Words: Jeff Ware Photography: Alexandra Cooper

When Suzuki released the GSXR750 in 1985, it blew minds. The square aluminium tube-framed Suzuki was the starting point for a run of bikes that continues to this very day. Following the splash of the 750, Suzuki created more noise in 1986 with the release of the GSXR1100.

197kg and 125hp, the GSXR1100 was the first true hyperbike

The frame differed from the 750 but only because it received extra bracing. Steering head rake and front-end trail figures at 26-degrees and 116mm were slightly more relaxed than the 750 and combined with the longer swingarm fitted to the 1100s, the 1460mm wheelbase made for a nicer bike on the road.

Suzuki used the same magic formula for the 1100 that they used on the RG250, RG500 and GSX-R750

With horsepower figure claimed to be as high as 128 at 9500rpm and torque peaking at 74.5ft/lb at 8000rpm, the 1986 1100 should have felt like a GSXR750 on steroids. The reality was that the first GSXR1100s struggled to register much more than 105 rear wheel horsepower but weighed in at just 197kg (dry).

This is Paul Bailey’s Aussie raced 1100 with 17in wheels

On the dragstrip, a good rider managed to click off 10.8 second ETs at 127mph on a completely stock ’86 G-model, proof that Suzuki had worked out the power-to-weight equation pretty well. Top speed was reported as being 155mph [249.44km/h] when tested in early 1986.

Bike magazine Bike Of The Year 1986, no small achievement and well deserved

The 1052cc engine featured the same oil/air cooling and Twin Swirl Combustion Chambers as the base model 750. A set of 34mm Mikuni BST CV carburettors was standard equipment on the 1100 with a familiar-appearing four-into-one exhaust on the other side of the DOHC-equipped cylinder head.

The endurance styling was a huge hit on the 750 and 1100, particularly the twin headlights

One interesting departure from the specification of the 750 was the fitment of a five-speed transmission. The 750’s carried six-speeds but according to popular myth and rumour, it has been claimed that Suzuki engineers felt that the extra torque of the 1100 negated the need for the extra ratio and they decided to add width to the five pairs instead.

At 2115mm it was a long bike, also very stable

As mentioned, the double cradle chassis was 750-derived. Continuing the commonality of parts were the 41mm conventional front forks with four-way preload and three-way compression adjustment. The rear shock had preload and four-way compression adjustments. The 18-in wheels fitted to the GSXR1100 was a deliberate move on Suzuki’s part to enable larger brake rotors. At the time, the 110/80-18 and 150/70-18 tyres were fairly fat.

This stunner was painted in Skoal colours just like the 750. We think it looks fantastic

The original G and H-series GSXR1100s were groundbreaking machines that allowed Suzuki to offer a bike suitable for the Isle of Man Unlimited TT and also capable of covering the big distance rides that Aussie rallygoers felt the need to cover at high speed in a weekend-long frenzy of speed. I forgot to mention the early-morning desperates on legendary Aussie roads like the OPH or Reefton Spur. The later J-models were slightly improved versions of the original and considered by many to be better but they’re not the original, are they?

A 150-section rear tyre was fat for the era

The Skoal Bandit model was a re-painted GSXR750 with only 50 produced in the UK to celebrate the (Aussie) Paul Lewis-ridden Heron Suzuki race bikes that were sponsored by Skoal Bandit. All 50 were sold with certificates of authenticity and a genuine article is worth a healthy house deposit these days. A former owner created a more powerful replica of that bike with this repainted GSXR1100. Expect to pay $15,000 to $20,000 for a mint non-import original. They were only $7,990 + ORC when new!

Aussie racing legend Paul Lewis raced the RG500 GP racer in Skoal Bandit livery, so Suzuki GB released 50 certified GSX-R750F Skoal Bandits to celebrate the team.

SPECIFICATIONS 1986 SUZUKI GSXR1100

COLOURS

Blue and white, red and black

ENGINE

1052cc, DOHC, air/oil-cooled, 16 valve, inline four-cylinder

CLAIMED POWER

102Kw [128hp]@9500rpm

CLAIMED TORQUE

101Nm [74.5ft/lb] at 8000rpm

DRY WEIGHT

197kg

OVERALL LENGTH

2115mm

SEAT HEIGHT

810mm

CHASSIS

Square-section aluminium tubing and aluminium castings

SUSPENSION

41mm conventional fork and Full Floater swingarm

FRONT BRAKES

Dual 300mm rotors and four piston calipers

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