Introduction - 

Here’s what I have to start with. $500 for a 1982 GS1100E that doesn't run, 22k miles. And it's PURPLE!! My friends have dubbed it "The Purple People Eater" because it has been running like poop since I bought it in the summer of 2004. To make it run it needed a new battery, 2 new float valves, two burnt exhaust valves replaced, and a pinched wire freed so it would charge.

Sounds easy, but I finally had to give the bike to my friend Jerry to work his magic on all the problems after I tried over and over again. I must have pulled the carbs off 12 times. I bought this bike on a whim, because I had heard about the legendary motor, all the success people have had with it drag racing, and as one of the first real “muscle bikes”. Back in 1982 this was the fastest production bike available with 111hp stock (that was probably at the crank). For it’s time it was blistering fast.

Things I don't like about it: it's purple, that seat is horrendous, the suspension/tires are far below par, and that stupid fairing. 

Now, I have to bore you with the reasons I decided to take on this project. I was riding MX in late 2005 and seriously damaged my left ankle.  Basically twisted my foot around backwards.  8 weeks crutches no weight on it.  Then months of rehab.  I have some time to kill, and it won't be filled with motorcycle racing.  

For the last 6-8 years I have seriously pondered what the ideal street bike would be. I like V-Twins for their street friendly torque, and I bought a 1991 VX800. It wasn't a popular bike, I like to think it was before it’s time. A naked V-twin, what a great idea. I sold it to buy a 2000 SV650, which I thought was the ideal street bike. It was pretty good, but soon everyone else realized what a great bike it was too, and I didn't feel so special. After I turned the SV into a race bike  I really wanted to have a trophy of a street bike. Top of the list was a savory Ducati 916. Easily voted the sexiest motorcycle ever built. This is the supermodel of motorcycles.  Although its super hot, fast, and sexy, all your friends want to ride it, its uncomfortable, high maintenance, expensive, and not the bike you want to marry. 
After I got over not having a 916, I decided the best bike would be the adopted step-sister of the Duck, an Aprilia RSV-R Mille. Less known, great value, super performance, and little maintenance. But why have a $10,000+ motorcycle that you can't afford to race, and there’s no way you could use 15% of it’s capabilities on the road? I then realized that having a bike that is made for the street makes sense. I still wanted a twin feel, but not a cruiser. I like the VFR, but it’s too normal, it doesn't stand out. I also like older BMWs, but they lack that certain spunk that a good motorcycle has. I thought a Moto Guzzi V-11 Sport, or Le Mans was the ticket for a long time, but there are some questions about MG’s reliability and production consistency.  Blah, de blah, blach.

All my ideas became realized when I found this picture on  It was the "Bike of the Month" in March 2003:

This is bike belongs to Claude “Solo Suzuki”. He built the bike in the 80’s and 90’s slowly upgrading the components as they were released by Suzuki for newer versions of the GS.  Basically the front end is from a 1985 GS1150, and the wheels and swingarm are from a 1990 GSXR1100.

I realized this is one of the coolest bikes I've ever seen, and I have the basis for one sitting in my garage. I started contacting Solo, and making a list of parts that he used with the goal of making my GS into a killer street ride.

The makeover is not only aesthetic. The wider forks and swingarm are necessary to accommodate conventional 17 inch wheels, 3.5” front and a 5.5” rear.  

So the journey begins.  I had a rough idea on how to do this, but first goal was to find all the parts I'd need to complete the project.  Next, I'd have to fit them all together and make sure it worked.  Then once I had a riding, working machine, I would make it pretty.  I didn't do everything Claude did, but I did use most of his bike as an inspiration.

The Build - 
The teardown begins.  

Test fitting the 1150 front end.  Pretty easy!  Just bolts right up.

This is truly a hack job.  No need for a mono shock mount on the GSXR1100 swingarm.

The GSXR1100 swingarm pivot width is about 2mm too wide for the GS1100 frame.  Luckily, there's some bushings on the frame that just need to be ground down a little to make enough space.

Yup, that's not going to work.  V&H 4-1 is on order.

This is the extent of my machining tools.  Sawzall, drill press, grinders, and stupid enthusiasm.  Leftover aluminum scraps will make up my swingarm shock mount tabs.

Not much modification needed to make the instrument cluster fit the 1150 triple clamp.  Just a little bending.

Taking apart the rear end to see how things will work.

Aligning the rear wheel and sprockets, and checking chain travel issues.

I did want an excuse to buy new pipes, but the wider GSXR swingarm will not fit between the GS stock mufflers.

Rear end mockup for the first time.

In this picture I'm locating the shock mount tab on the swingarm in an attempt to keep some of the original geometry similar.  What it also shows is the difference in the length and width of GS vs. GSXR swingarms.

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