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suzuki katana

You again!

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Feb 2021

The good, the bad and the ugly of factory clones

(See the 'You Again' home page here.)

suzuki katana

Part 5: Suzuki Katana
It is all about appearances

Just for a minute put yourself in the shoes of the poor bastard from Suzuki who has to stand up in front of a bunch of ratbag journos at the world launch, and explain how your latest holder of the much-loved Katana brand name is not in fact a retro bike. No, it’s a modern take on an old idea. That was the task given Saturo Terada, the engineer in charge of the modern Kat 1000 project.

suzuki katana

Just to confuse the issue, the Katana name has appeared on all sorts of things, two-wheeled and four, across various markets. But the ones we’re most interested in is the early eighties GSX1100/1000 series, with their big DOHC four-valve powerplants hanging out either side of their impossibly spindly tube steel frames. Those bikes were penned by Hans Muth of Target Design and were an instant styling hit. Controversial as well, but in a good way.

suzuki katana

The truth of the matter is the Katanas had some race success in various forms, but weren’t necessarily world-beaters, while owners soon discovered they weren’t terribly comfortable or nimble. The term ‘gothic’ springs to mind. In fact, the naked GSX1100E predecessor, thanks largely to its more conventional seating position, was a better and arguably quicker ride.

suzuki katana

So when you announce a revival, really it’s all about styling. Powered by a variant on a late GSX-R1000 engine, the new chap (well, 2019-2020) has a number of elements that mimic the original – particularly the fuel tank and headlight. However there are some angles where it simply doesn’t photograph well, while the engine – once the highlight on a big Kat – is all but hidden.

In any case it is, as you would expect, a much easier and quicker thing to ride than the original.

Suzuki Katana 1000
Power 110kW @ 10,000rpm
Torque 108Nm @ 9500rpm
Weight 215kg wet
Rating: 3/5
A thoroughly good ride, and near enough to 30 per cent more powerful then the original, but somehow misses the target on looks.

suzuki katana


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