The Suzuki Katana raised eyebrows for radical styling back in the '80s but has since proven a cult classic, with this custom creation from Extreme Creations truly doing the model modern justice. Words & Images by Kris Hodgson
The Suzuki Katana is a cult classic, with a following the world over and styling so unique that it is part of the small group of bikes that are instantly recognised – whether parked alone or with plenty of competition.
With a claimed 111 brake horsepower, the GSX1100 remains a favourite for collectors, tinkerers and custom bike specialists. And 30 years after the Katana’s initial release there is a plethora of options for modifying this bike – taking advantage of the many technological advances we take for granted on newer bikes.
With this 1982 Katana, Michael, with the expertise of Extreme Creations, opted to borrow from Suzuki’s more recent offerings, with a front end swap incorporating 43mm forks and front mudguard from a GSX-R1000 and a billet Mikuni triple-clamp to match.
Mikuni handlebars hold GSX-R1000 switches and controls, while Acewell instruments keep the rider in the know. Rizoma bar end mirrors have been attached to the handlebars inside the grips, ensuring a very neat front profile, especially with the almost invisible Rizoma Graffio indicators – invisible until they start blinking that is!
Bringing the rear into the 21st century is a modified swingarm from a GSX1400, including shocks and wheel. The frame – which, like the rest of the bike wasn’t in the best condition originally – was chemically stripped, blasted and then powdercoated black. It had additional bracing added and was modified to take the new swingarm, particularly around the sprocket area – ensuring clearance once the new 6in wheel was fitted.
The new rear wheel is matched by a front also from a GSX1400 and both are fitted with Michelin Pilot Power tyres. With the handling massively upgraded the brakes needed an overhaul too.
Smoothed and painted Tokico radial calipers went onto the front, and squeeze 320mm GSX1400 rotors with EBC HH pads and are controlled through Goodridge braided lines by Titax titanium levers. The rear benefited from the GSX1400 caliper and rotor that came with the swingarm.
The engine has Mikuni CV 36mm carbies, Yoshimura camshafts, K&N pod filters, a heavy duty clutch and Delkivic mufflers.
The original tank now has an Aero fuel cap, the tail is swathed in MR Racing carbon-fibre – complete with a small storage compartment. An Ohlin’s steering damper keeps the front end in line and Gillies rearsets in black are a subtle but high quality addition.
With the bike painted in the traditional Katana Silver by Black Dog at APWR and looking quite trick you’re probably wondering what else could possibly have been done.
It’s a good question too, as this Katana has remote ignition, because sometimes having the best looking bike isn’t enough – you also need to send your friends green with envy when your bike fires up without having to touch it!
History of the Suzuki Katana
The Suzuki Katana GSX 1100 S was originally released in 1981 and produced through to 1984, with smaller capacity versions – the 750, 650, 550 sharing the shapely fuel tank and merged tank to seat arrangement. The iconic aggressively aerodynamic nose causing quite the uproar amongst the motorcycling media as the bikes’ radical styling raised eyebrows and polarised the motorcycling public.
On release the 1100 Katana was the fastest mass produced motorcycle in the world and despite the media being unsure about the bike’s visionary styling – first conceived by Jan Fellstrom – consumers were quick to take note.
In 1984 the Katana 750 S took third in the Castrol 6 Hour, while a 1000cc version was also released by Suzuki purely for racing with only 3000 units produced.
While the Katana was meant to be Suzuki’s race line it was replaced by the GSX-R in 1985. The Katana has however, proven a great basis for conversions, particularly for drag racing – retaining a cult following to this day.