590 Miles! 1986 SUZUKI GSX-R1100

This 1986 Suzuki GSX-R1100 has an incredible engine that’s over 21 times bigger than most of my oddball motorcycle engines, that’s crazy. I need to kick it up a notch, apparently. The seller has three of these bikes listed on eBay right now, and this one can be found here on eBay in Miami, Florida. They have an $18,000 buy-it-now price and the current bid is $13,900, but the reserve isn’t met. 

The 1970s were transitional, to say the least, as far as regulations go. The vehicle industry was hit hard across the board, mainly with new anti-pollution and safety requirements, at least here in the U.S. where we saw many changes. A big one was giving the beatdown to two-stroke engines, hence the rapid growth of the mosquito population in the United States. I’m joking, of course, but they do make great blue-smoke-foggers.

This was also the era when sport bikes were becoming a thing, specifically four-stroke models, and Suzuki wanted in. Enter the GS400 and GS750 in 1976 and the race was on. In 1980, they followed with a 16-valve DOHC engine, around the time that they introduced the famous Katana, one of the most influential sport bikes of the time. The GSX1100 Katana cranked it up to 147 mph, quite eye-opening at the time. It was reported to be the fastest production motorcycle of the era. Hagerty is at $13,700 for a #1 Concours-level bike, and this one is above that now and the reserve isn’t met!

The GSX-R1100 was made from 1986 through 1998 and was based on Suzuki’s GSX-R750 but added more power, yet it was a relatively lightweight bike at just 434 pounds. As is almost always the case, whenever people look back on a vehicle and compare it to newer models, the older one starts racking up a few negative points – in this case, some unwieldy handling characteristics when compared to bikes from the mid-1990s and newer. Suzuki, as with most manufacturers, kept improving things over the years so that’s just a natural progression.

I wish we could see the engine that’s hiding behind that beautiful red, white, blue, and silver bodywork. It’s Suzuki’s 1,052-cc four-stroke DOHC inline-four with a unique oil cooling system that helped get crucial cooling to parts of the engine that would otherwise be hard to reach by air cooling. It put out somewhere around 130 horsepower and was backed by a five-speed transmission. You can see aftermarket air cleaners but the seller has the original airboxes, which is always nice. Have any of you owned a bike like this Suzuki GSX-R1100?

Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Hmm, 590 miles, you say? What’s that brown stain on the seat? Yeah, I’ll go there, probably scared the crap out of them. I don’t know, Asians must think we drive on race tracks all day. I mean, fantastic machines if you do, but my motorcycling interest consists of an old oil dispensing, vibrating, gear clunking Limey. You CAN’T drive this slow, it does the freakin’ speed limit in 2nd gear, for heavens sake. It makes them poor city bikes, and poor road bikes. The only thing I see these good for, is for those roving city gangs on crotch rockets, hassling cars, doing wheelies, and stoppies, and eventually going down, like it’s an honor, and I suppose to the weak of mind, it is.
    I love motorcycling, and I expect “TheOldRanger” to chime in on the horrors of motorcycling, I wish they had more examples of just the “guy that got hit by a red light runner”, I’m really sorry about that, I don’t mean to be cold, but as a truck driver/motorcycle rider, with an impeccable record, I might add, I learned, your buddy should have seen the person running the light, rather than taking for granted “green means go”. Treat people coming at you as drunken idiots heck bent on killing you. It’s how you survive. I’d have to say, however, with the advent of the cell phone, it’s a LOT more dangerous, and by far the biggest cause of biker accidents is animal collisions. There really was merit to the Harley saying “loud pipes save lives”. It woke up inattentive drivers saying you were there, and deer run away from the noise long before you get there. I had closer calls on my whisper quiet GWs.
    Clearly, I have not much good to say about these types of bikes, but,,with that dismal DRZ gone, I still enjoy motorcycling, I sorely miss not having one, as we have over 300 days of sunshine here. Nows the time, you don’t buy a snowblower in January. Hmm,,,thanks a lot, Scotty, I’m going right to Marketplace and punch in Triumph. Oh, to go out( of life, I am 68) on a Bonne 750, Rocket 3 or Trident, NICE AND SLOW,,,yes sir, THAT sadly, is what the naysayers are missing. It can’t be explained. This bike is not for the weak, and exhilarating to operate, I’m sure, just at 68, I just want to putt along and smell the oil,,

    Like 10
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      “ I need to kick it up a notch, apparently.” I dunno, Scotty-depending on where you’re riding a 125 or 250cc 2 stroke can be a lot more fun.

      Howard, I can understand your prejudice with sport bikes; it’s something many of us have experienced. But like every Machine, it has its intended purpose of design and engineering. I’d rather ride this on most byways in the Sierras than a Road Glide, but I’d rather have that Road Glide if we have to take I-80 across the west or even Hwy 50 from Lake Tahoe to Ely.
      You pointed out your driving record; as a professional in the trucking profession you had a distinct edge on that vast majority of American drivers/riders. Do you know that the trucking industry’s Smith System was a crucial part of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation classroom curriculum for decades? It was emphasized on the introductory settings and helped establish the mindset of what a heads-up rider is thinking.
      BTW-“brown stain on the seat”? That’s funny stuff right there..

      Like 7
    • Tim

      Loud pipes announce the arrival of a douche. Reflective orange vests save lives but the Harley possers would tell you they don’t want to look like, well, a douche.

      Like 13
      • Howard A Member

        Not sure why I dignify this with an answer, but I want to remain cordial, you’re full of it, Tim. Reflective vests? Tell that to the families of the thousands killed in work zone accidents, ALL with vests on. People won’t see a billboard if they aren’t looking. It’s why you have to. I have had more close calls on a “quiet” bike, and the marvel of the computer screen. You can call someone a nasty name and still have their front teeth.

        Like 6
      • Big C

        I’ll wager you ride an electric scooter. Loud Harleys scare you, I understand.

        Like 2
    • Stan

      Pick up a DR 650 Howard. Simple, practical and just fast enough 🙌

      Like 4
    • Chunk

      Does the speed limit in 2nd gear, Howard? That’ll hit 60 in 1st gear on the way to a 10.7 second quarter mile at 130 mph; pretty sure there isn’t a speed limit in America it won’t ANNIHILATE in 2nd.

      Cool bike, but for that kind of money I could get something with all the speed, twice the handling, ABS, and a warranty. Pass for me.

      Like 6
    • david r

      yeah these things a a marvel of engineering, go faster, stop better, incredible handling, totally dependable…and I hate them. So sick of the idiots in LA who drive them like they’re racing at Isle of Mann. I don’t need or want 120hp on a motorcycle.

    • John

      3 yrs ago I was rear ended by a texter. 35mph right up my butt. Still haven’t recovered. Luckily I was in a van. I sold my 1996 Triumph Speed Triple with 4,000 miles on the clock because I was not going to take a chance with my life. Frankly I ain’t afraid of dying fast. I’m afraid of being maimed and in chronic pain, like I am now.

      I’ve always wanted one of these bikes, the desire makes me ache, but I ached worse when I tried to fold my legs up to ride one. I’m 6’4″ and have probably been saved many times simply because I’m too tall for these race bikes.

      I’m not so sure loud pipes save lives anymore. Not with all these jacked up trucks running straight pipes and pissing people off. These days people are tired of that crap and will just as likely run you off the road as “respect” your “right” to the road.

      The roads aren’t safe anymore and I got tired of being ever vigilant while riding. Still, if I could have my knee bent 90 degrees surgically I’d be tempted to tempt fate…..on a bike just like this. The amour for them is still hot in my chest.

      Like 3
  2. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Well, I’ve got a year on Howard and like the younger Howard (🤣), I love motorcycling. My last bike was a ’09 Kawasaki Vulcan Classic LT, a middle weight cruiser, and you really had to watch out for folks who were doing everything in their vehicle except being focused on driving. The wife and I rode mostly in the countryside and stayed away from urban areas as much as possible, but even then, we had a few close calls, mostly from inattentive drivers. However, after I talked to the offending drivers (my wife claims I was yelling and using some very colorful language) they seemed to have learned their lesson. I’ve had a few bikes over the years but never a sports bike as I really had no interest in them. I did prefer Jap bikes as they were much better bikes than the Brit bikes (sorry, Howard!) when I started riding in the early ’70s, although I did own a 1984 Triumph TSX for a while. After those few close calls, the missus got too nervous about motorcycling and didn’t enjoy riding anymore, so I let the bike go. I really miss motorcycling, even with the idiot drivers you had to contend with these days.

    Incidentally, my truck driving career mirrors Howard’s; no accidents or moving violations since I started driving trucks in the late ’70s. I’ve been retired for a few years and believe it or not, I miss truck driving, too.

    Like 7
    • Howard A Member

      Hi FordGuy, I know, a Limey sounds appealing, but we tend to forget with age. Those BMW dual sports look awful nice, but a vintage Honda Trail 90 is probably more like it. My bicycle days are numbered, I think.
      Hey, want to keep up with the trucking industries shenanigans? I subscribe to a site called TTR( The Truckers Report) Check it out. It has all the latest screwups, that many of us had, but weren’t on camera, latest on Uncle Sams foolish interventions, and of course, the questions we thought silly, are now real concerns. I won’t tell what my “handle” is, but you can figure it out. The trucking industry, like classic car hobby, upsets me off considerable, and another entity I’m glad to be away from. My CDL is cut in half and mounted on me wall, celebrating almost 40 years to the day. Shiny side up, my friend.

      https://www.thetruckersreport.com/truckingindustryforum/

      Like 2
      • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

        Hi Howard and thanks for the heads up on the Truckers Report, I’ll check it out. I’ve always driven straight jobs, not so much trailers, though I did when I had to. My forte was furniture trucks, tag-axle dump trucks and front loader trash trucks. I really worry about the truckers on the road today. Currently, there is a national shortage of truck drivers, and it seems they are lowering the standards just to get knucklehead behind the wheel. I watch a website called Bonehead Truckers and find it somewhat terrifying the stupid sh*t some of the truckers today do and the danger they are to the general public. The worst are the guys who rent a truck for whatever reason. You can rent a fairly big truck with just a car license and those guys are a real threat on the road. I did a good bit of short haul driving (within a 500 radius of my shop) with Allied Van Lines and could tell you some interesting stories about my adventures on the road. I’m sure you have many similar stories yourself. I’m sure some stories are funny, and some incidents were terrifying. I loved driving trucks, especially the heavy dump trucks and the front loaders, they were challenging. Still, I’m glad I’m not out there anymore.

  3. Big C

    In my social circles, the “Gixer’s” were fondly called “death machines.” Most accidents on these things were caused by rider error.

    Like 6
  4. BA

    Now we get to where I might have a smidgen of expertise the oil boilers ! Just kidding but true the GSXR 750 was all the rage because of its power to weight ratio & the noodle flexi frame wasn’t as bad as the 1100s which was almost dangerous under full throttle or hard braking but ridden like a mortal put smiles on faces. Many people forget that at the time & until Valintino Rossi 3 year racing 2 strokes ruled the world of racing but bikes like these were closing the gap but never truly eclipsed as a 1000cc 4 stroke was needed to have a chance of defeating a 500cc 2 stroke even now there are privateers with deep pockets trying to resurrect 2 strokes as they remember RG 500,400 Gama , TZ 750 ,500,350 all sorts of European, Canada & everywhere else the forbidden fruit was to be had but here! I personally had the RZ350LC & with Toomey pipes & 30 mm mikunis that power band was fearsome like ride a wheelie doing 40 mph & me weighing 200 lbs! Ahh so sorry to ramble about such things but the good 4 stroke bikes were right around the corner just needed twice the displacement of a 2 stroke even today that bridge has not been completely closed & you haven’t ridden a motorcycle until you’ve ridden a motorcycle that it took King Kenny Robert’s ,Kevin Swantz or Eddie Lawson to ride to victory!

    Like 8
  5. Frank Drackman

    Had a new 88′ GSXR750, Blue/White (Med School Graduation “Gift” courtesy of Uncle Sam’s Student loan) upgraded from a Honda CX500(no turbo, just the “Custom” model) nearly killed myself more times than I’d like to remember, was only fun going flat out (top speed was 154mph, fast at the time), unlike the Honda which was cool just sitting on in the parking lot, sold it 3 years later as soon as I made the last payment, to a Marine, only a little over 3,000 miles on it (was deployed a lot)

    Frank

    Like 4
  6. Bon bon

    You meet the nicest people on a Suzuki.

    Like 7
  7. Mike76

    Knew a guy that I went to high school and played baseball with that had one of these Gixxers. In the mid 90’s after graduating high school he was riding very fast *with helmet on* (estimated at 80-85 on a 35 speed limit road) down a local main street, a lady in a minivan made a right hand turn off of a side street at a stoplight and as my classmate went thru the intersection, he plowed into the rear of the minivan catapulting him into and ultimately over the vehicle. He died on the scene from what was later determined to be major head/brain trauma. These type of street bikes are awesome machines, but paired with younger more impulsive, less mature teenagers, it’s a dangerous recipe. Sorry to be a buzzkill here, just seeing this bike (and it’s a pretty bike too) reminded me of him. Rest in Peace, Dave S.

    Like 10
  8. Derek

    I was never really into inline fours – but they go well. My everyday dog is a VFR 750, and my bikes of that era are an NS 400 and a 350 LC.

    I also have a Ducati (bevel) in case I’m feeling sensible.

    And the Rudge is a work-in-progress!

    Like 3
  9. BA

    Square 4 is the score, no less & no more, we used to say before the Honda V 4 & V3 2 stroke turned the racing world upside-down!

    Like 2
  10. BA

    Before I get mauled how could I forget Fast Freddy Spencer ! I know boo hiss get out of here you ! Good night!

    Like 6
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Sad that his carpal tunnel pain stunted his racing career as it did.
      As a racer he was amazing to watch especially at Laguna Seca but then he had to be good against the likes of Eddie Lawson, Jimmy Filice, Mike Baldwin, John Kocinski, Randy Mamola, Wayne Gardner, Niall McKenzie, Pierfrancesco Chili, Christian Sarron, Didier De Radigues, Kevin Magee, Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz and many others whose names I can’t read on the old VHS labels anymore..

  11. GIJOOOE

    I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 10 years old. Started on a 1979 Honda XR75 that I bought with my Christmas and birthday money that I had been saving for a while. My next dirt bike was a ‘84 Suzuki RM80 that was bored out to 105cc. That’s the first fast bike I owned. When I graduated to street bikes, I bought a wrecked Kawasaki Ninja ZX6, bought it from a shop in Chicago that recycled wrecked bikes. The story on my bike was that a 17 year old bought it and promptly died because he had more money than brains. It didn’t need a lot of work, just the right side bodywork and a new front wheel and tire. That’s how I learned to ride sport bikes, but I was smart enough to not drive like a maniac. Started off just riding it around the neighborhood, until I felt comfortable enough with the power to take it on the highway. When I was home on leave from Iraq, I bought a one year old Aprilia RSV1000R and rode it home to St Louis from Kansas City. That was a completely different experience, going from barely a hundred horsepower to 140 horsepower on a bike that barely weighed 400 pounds! Total eye opener, I had to completely change my riding style to make up for the increased performance. I ended up trading it for a brand new ‘07 Aprilia Tuono 1000R, the naked version of the RSV. That bike was the sweetest bike I’ve owned, it had a comfortable riding position and still moved and handled like a sport bike.

    The reason I took a 10 year hiatus from riding is that I got tired of people in cages doing their level best to kill me almost every time I rode. I’m not joking- I never rode dangerously, didn’t get into stunting or weaving through traffic at a hundred fifty miles per hour. It was always some dunderhead trying to text or just talking on their cellphone, not paying a damn bit of attention to where they were going. Just completely oblivious idiots driving around without a care in the world running me straight off the road or running red lights and stop signs, and then acting like they didn’t do anything wrong after they just tried to kill me.

    I’m not saying sport bikes aren’t dangerous, anything with over 100 horsepower that weighs less than 450 pounds is inherently dangerous, especially for indestructible teenagers who don’t understand the consequences of hitting anything while going 150mph. But it was always clueless drivers that I had to worry about killing me. We have since moved to upstate New York, and I got back into riding last year. Bought a Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe that I am absolutely in love with. It “only” has 115 horsepower, but it’s plenty fast enough for me and it handles really well on twisty roads. And the style- oh my, does she look gooood. And the riding/driving culture here is completely different from Missouri. In the past year and a half that I’ve been riding in upstate New York, I’ve only had one person almost pull out directly in front of me, but as soon as they saw me they slammed on their brakes and apologized. If it was in St Louis, I would have nailed them in the side and they would have blamed ME for riding one of them da** crotch rockets, and why didn’t I pay more attention to where I was going?

    My point is- Howard is right, it’s not always the motorcycle that is dangerous. You literally have to ride as if every single human being in a car is out to murder you. Every intersection is a death sentence, every highway is a road straight to hell. When I ride my motorcycle, I almost have to get into the “hyper vigilant” mode I would be in while on patrol in Iraq, head on a swivel scanning for threats. Some folks might think that’s hyperbole or being dramatic but it’s not. I also don’t ride in town, avoid the highway if I can, and never ride in the boonies at night, because wild animals are just as dangerous as oblivious people.

    But if I had an extra $18k laying around burning a hole in my pocket, I’d love to have this classic gixxer. The first thing I’d do is install modern suspension and radial-mount brakes. And see what I could do about stiffening the chassis, because these early aluminum frames were basically prototypes, with each successive generation getting thicker and stiffer so the suspension could do its job.

    Like 10
    • 19sixty5 Member

      My point is- Howard is right, it’s not always the motorcycle that is dangerous. “You literally have to ride as if every single human being in a car is out to murder you. Every intersection is a death sentence, every highway is a road straight to hell. When I ride my motorcycle, I almost have to get into the “hyper vigilant” mode I would be in while on patrol in Iraq, head on a swivel scanning for threats. Some folks might think that’s hyperbole or being dramatic but it’s not. I also don’t ride in town, avoid the highway if I can, and never ride in the boonies at night, because wild animals are just as dangerous as oblivious people.” Exactly why I don’t ride anymore, it has taken the fun out of it, plus at 70, I’ll stick with my hot rods.

      Like 4
      • Justin Burd

        I basically ruined my body carrying 110 pounds of gear on my back for a year in the sandbox, so I’m not far behind you in giving up riding for good. And I plan on having an eclectic collection of hot rods when I’m retired!

  12. Turbotimez

    Where’s the stock air box? Seems odd to me.

    Like 1
  13. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Turbotimez, I mentioned in the last paragraph that the seller still has them.

    Like 2
  14. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one ended early because there was an error in the listing – which may be code for it wasn’t approaching the seller’s reserve…

    Like 2
  15. Vincent Aprea

    Well well. An original form Gixxer with unrealistically low miles ?
    Some would say that’s “suspicious” however the condition looks to be on par but hard to say without a closer look. And for 18,000$ I’ll look elsewhere.
    I had quite a few 750 and 1100s. Even did the 7/11 swap. 1100 engine in the lighter 750 frame.
    Add a stage 3, down gear the counter shaft sprocket and add a Yoshimura duplex and that front wheel takes to the sky like a homesick angel.
    Zero gravity tinted wind screens and polished aluminum frames to complete the look.
    This original 86 belongs in a museum as it is the “original gangster “ of the early superbike era

    Like 2
  16. Mark

    These things are insane. 130hp, square tires, no traction control and no abs. I had a gixxer in college in the 80s. I’m surprised I’m still alive. I ride a 1300 KTM now and it’s much saner and safer.

    Like 1
  17. Chris Cornetto

    Put me down for two. I’m at verge of old and well if I hit a chain linked fence at a 150 miles per hour and are instantly cubes… well that to me is much better than sitting in front of a TV drooling with the price is right playing while I pee my pants. Now love sport bikes or Hate them, these machines have evolved into nothing more than invigorating balls of magic. My first was an 05 Gixxer 600. In late 07 the hype of the new Hyabusa was in full swing and yup the only new vehicle I ever bought, call it a mid life crisis or whatever but I rolled out on a cold northeast December day on my orange and black Japanese missile. 15 years later and nearly 40,000 miles we are still prowling. Sport bikes are to me updated versions of old American muscle cars or just old cars as all roll to speeds that could terminate your participation in the gene pool. These and all these bikes are wonderful and contrary to what’s said slow is quite easy, fast is even easier, I missed Indiana one time on the way to Wisconsin one time. The braking is superb unlike my SS 68 Chevelle. Nothing can catch you and happiness is a straight road into the vanishing point or a curvy, twisty. Turny snake. Say what you will of these but like anything it only goes as fast as you turn the grip or push the peddle, and quite frankly I trust fast on these more than my 89 5.0 convertible or any other muscle thing I have. Huge tailfins or a Japanese missile, I’m IN! These bike in survivor condition will be what old American iron is in the future.

    Like 3
  18. Chris Cornetto

    What’s not to like, one of the ones that started it all. My first was an 05 Gixxer 600. In 08 I moved to a hyabusa. Just like an old muscle car. Your best friend or worst nightmare. One must have great respect for said missile between one’s legs, but gawd I love em”. This one belongs in a museum now. Low mileage things don’t excite me because of their unusability. An unmolested original that lived life, had adventures is the way to go. This bike is the equivalent of Toy Story’s Stinky Pete, never out of the box.

    Like 2
  19. Michael Berkemeier

    Yamaha RZV500R…say no more. If you’ve never heard one run, you have not experienced the sweetest sound (next to, maybe, a 12V92T Detroit Diesel). With four pipes coming out the back, it was the most wicked looking and sounding bike ever. Baddest bike I ever rode.

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.