1982 Suzuki Katana GS1000SZ

The first Suzuki Katana had the looks and the goods

| May/June 2006

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    The 1982 Suzuki Katana GS1000SZ
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    A “Katana,” a type of samurai sword, is highlighted in decals on each side of the bike
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    Photo by Richard Backus
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    The giant choke knob is pure Eighties style, and the switches below it can be wired for accessories
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    Both “switches” on the right are dummies.
    Photo by Richard Backus
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    Photo by Richard Backus
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    Photo by Richard Backus
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    Photo by Richard Backus

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Suzuki Katana GS1000SZ
Years produced:
1982
Claimed power: 90hp @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: 140mph
Engine type: Air-cooled, in-line four-cylinder
Weight (wet): 252.4kg (556.5lb)
Price then: $4,499
Price now: $3,500-$5,500
MPG: 35-50

If you grew up in the Eighties, chances are when you think of a time machine, you think of a stainless-steel DeLorean complete with a flux capacitor. It's not likely that the 1982 Suzuki Katana GS1000SZ comes to mind.

In 1985, executive producer Steven Spielberg introduced thousands of teenagers to what would become their first object of moto lust: the gullwing-doored DeLorean that Michael J. Fox drove across the silver screen in the movie Back to the Future. Although Spielberg originally thought about using a refrigerator as a time machine, he turned instead to the DeLorean for something a bit sexier. With just a bit of plutonium for power, the DeLorean sent its driver and passengers traveling through time.

For people like Richard Bruner, the 1982 Suzuki Katana GS1000SZ is a time machine of a different sort. It mentally takes him back to his senior year of high school. “I spent more than one lunch period in the school library reading about it in all of the motorcycle magazines of the day,” he admits. Now he can spend his lunch hour aboard one of his two GS1000SZs or a host of other fine bikes in his garage.



Though the first Suzuki Katana was not an entirely new motorcycle when it debuted in 1982, it was radically different in design and idea than its predecessors in Suzuki’s GS line of bikes. “What struck me the most,” Richard says, “was the appearance, the way the back of the tank came to a point, and how the seat was ‘scooped out’ to allow the rider to feel like they were a part of the bike, rather than sitting on top of the bike.”

The unusual design was wild on purpose. Though Suzukis of the day were known to be some of the fastest, best-handling machines in their respective classes, the word on the street was their lineup was also a bit boring when it came to looks. Then as now, appearance was key when it came to motorcycle sales, so Suzuki decided it was time to make a bold change.



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