’82 Suzuki Katana
Back in the early ’80s a good friend worked in the local Suzuki Kawasaki dealership and every now and then would get a demo bike to ride for a while and invariably, I would get to ride it too. We rode some great bikes of the time, the first Ninja 900, the King Kong GPz1100, and one of my favorites the Suzuki GS1100. There were bikes to ride that were good with lots of potential, like the Kawasaki KZ750 twin and Suzuki’s little GS400, both really good motorcycles, even if the Kawasaki was about as pure vanilla a motorcycle as it gets (however, I would like one today).
We rode bikes that just blew (literally) us away…the Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo and the Suzuki XN85 Turbo. exciting as all get out when they came on boost, but to have one as a regular rider? No thanks. And then, there came the opportunity to rides bikes that all you wanted to do was say “uh, no thanks, I uh…well, uh…I hear my wife calling…gotta go but thanks anyway”.
The best example I have of that category at the time was the Suzuki Madura. Great big 1200cc V-4 motor, but the styling was right out of some designers Sake hangover.
The Suzuki V-4 had plenty of power, gobs of torque and a great sound, but I just couldn’t past it’s looks. Suzuki even made it in a smaller size…why? Now, before I get blasted with emails from Madura owners, remember ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and that…leads us into the Katana.
The Katana showed up on these shores in 1981 to very mixed reviews. Everyone was well aware of the GS1000 motors power and the handling of the chassis, but none of us were ready for the out of this world styling. The Katana was designed by Hans Muth in Germany originally for the European market. Mr. Muth is known for penning the legendary BMW R100RS, the first production motorcycle designed in a wind tunnel. The Katana was designed aerodynamically for stability at high speeds. Also, one of the first ‘factory’ cafe racers. It succeeded at its goal, quite well.
The angular styling put a lot of people off, but…if you look closely, some of those angular design features are exactly what you are looking at thirty years…thirty years!!! later. Go look at the latest sportbikes on the market and you’ll see what I mean.
The Katana has developed over the years a cult following that rivals just about any bike out there that had a short production run, my friend Paul of Racers Cycle Service in Oxnard California has, at last count, thirteen of them and services about fifteen others from all over because of his expertise and skill at finding parts to fit them. I too have a small lust for a Katana, partially because of it’s styling, which I will admit I didn’t get all those years ago, but I do now, and mainly because I love unique bikes.
So, I found this really nice 1982 Katana on ebay the other day and this is a good find. Only 20K miles completely stock except for the V&H exhaust (which however is a great choice for this bike and looks right). The price is so far reasonable and it is an instant rider. If you are looking for an iconic motorcycle (styling and performance wise…) that will draw a crowd wherever you go, checkout this Suzuki. Click on the pics below for more info and more photo’s.