A100: 1968-80, 99cc t/s single,
9hp, 60mph, 90mpg, 190lb
B120 1971-77, 118cc t/s single,
10hp, 65mph, 100mpg, 210lb
Useful, reliable commuters, loose handling, drum brakes fade. Engines run to 30-40k when small-end and bore become troublesome, but with a rebuilt top end can break through 50k mark. A dead condensor can make starting difficult. Also check for chassis rot at this age. B120 had easier life as commuter, many A100's ruined by learners.
GP100: '80-93, 98cc t/s single,
11hp, 70mph, 80mpg, 195lb
GP125: '80-89, 124cc t/s single,
11/15hp, 70/80mph, 65mpg,
Early models often needed a rebore and crank seals at 15k, plus gearbox hassles, later ones could run for twice that. Chassis went off with age and the (poorly) drum braked model usually ended up with bent forks. Some suffered gearbox faults, seizures and big-end failures. GP125 engine will fit in the 100. Later bikes reliable.
GT125: 1974-80, 124cc t/s twin,
16hp, 80mph, 60mpg, 240lb
GT185: 1973-89, 182cc t/s twin,
20hp, 80mph, 60mpg, 270lb
Peaky stroker twins, more go than looks. Dubious small-ends, pistons, oil pump and main bearings. Handling degenerates when s/a bearings go after a few thousand miles – chassis easy enough to upgrade. Disc, paint and electrics rot. Hard use means engine often melted down after as little as 20k. Need frequent engine tune-ups.
GN125: '94 on, 124cc OHC single
12hp, 70mph, 90mpg, 230lb
GS125 '82 on, 124cc OHC single
12hp, 70mph, 100mpg, 225lb
GS combines style with low running costs. Older models had the option of a front drum, wire wheels and no electric starter. Lack of oil changes (often reflected in a gearbox full of false neutrals) take out the camshaft. Top end goes after 45k but many ran to over 60k. GN silly custom version.
1984-94, 124cc OHC single,
12hp, 70mph, 100mpg, 230lb
Trail version of the GS which could rumble over rough terrain but most used on the tarmac. Long travel suspension’s useful on rotted town roads but age causes wallowing at speed. Higher centre of gravity makes it less easy on learners than the GS. Same long term problems as the GS but also quick rot rear shock and high level exhaust. The Jap market has the great benefit of a 20hp 200cc version. Opt for the GS unless a really good DR125 turns up.
1985-92, 124cc w/c t/s single,
12hp, 75mph, 50mpg, 220lb
Rather odd stroker with race replica looks and little more go than a GS125, though engine can be derestricted to around 23hp. Engine rattles and vibes are normal but any knocking’s probably the main bearings on the way out. Abuse and amateur tuning could kill the engine in less than 20k, though more than 30k’s possible. Weird 16” wheel handling and sharp clutch take-up.
1992 on, 124cc w/c t/s single
12hp, 80mph, 55mpg, 280lb
Sophisticated and expensive stroker in full blown race replica mode. Rather silly in 12hp form with a chassis that makes little sense below 70mph, but examples have been tuned to around 30 horses without exploding. Usual learner abuse and exuberance, crash-repaired examples out there that could turn out both expensive and deadly. Signs of an engine on the way out are rattles, knocks, excess of smoke and a stuttering flow of power.
1992-97, 124cc w/c t/s single,
12hp, 80mph, 60mpg, 250lb
Modern, naked stroker based on the RG125FU with simpler chassis. When the motor’s derestricted to 30 horses it makes for a large dose of fun. 12hp engine’s tough, though check piston and clutch on high milers. Some have naff finish and seized rear caliper.
1983-89, 123cc t/s single,
12hp, 75mph, 70mpg, 260lb
Sometimes amusing trail bike that often ended up wrecked by either learners or off-road abuse. Easy to derestrict by removing a washer from the exhaust, when the 20 plus horses gives the bike a much harder edge. Engine lasts for 15k plus in this state, going down from either piston wear or crankshaft bearings going knock- knock. They are becoming rare now, with good used spares hard to find.
1990 on, 124cc w/c t/s single,
12hp, 70mph, 65mpg, 245lb
Neat enough trailster, okay both on and off road. Strong, durable engine in 12hp form, can double power with new pipe and derestricted engine – when piston and bore begin to wear rapidly if thrashed. Chain and rear suspension don’t last very well when neglected or used in muddy conditions. Quite easy to wheelie into oblivion and brilliant around city traffic. Beware of tuned bikes.
1968-73, 200/247/316cc t/s twin,
20/28/30hp, 90/100mph, 50/45mpg
Classic looking stroker twins with reasonable handling and lots of go but piston seizures, rebores, gearbox and oil pump failures. Failure of the big and small-ends also caused much mayhem. Quality of the engine rebuild and the rider’s right hand twitchiness determines longevity and reliability. Rarer 350 best buy.
1980-82, 196cc t/s twin,
24hp, 85mph, 55mpg, 275lb
High frequency vibes normal, avoid bikes with a knocking engine. Good engines have a slick gearbox and relative lack of smog. Rapid rear tyre (4k) and chain (6k) wear plus atrocious fuel once a little wear gets into the bores hardly makes them worth the effort. Very rare with no sightings of nice ones; lack of spares makes rats difficult but other GT engines will fit. SB200, slower (20hp, 75mph, 60mpg), commuter version, still some left on the road.
1973-79, 247cc t/s twin,
27hp, 85mph, 60mpg, 320lbs
Silly ram-air cylinder head. Engine mild enough to ensure that every motor was tuned until the small-ends rattled, pistons holed. Chassis wobbles, usually due to naff swinging arm bearings, added to the chaos. Many dead meat in less than 20k but the odd one has done more than 50k. Avoid anything with clip-ons and spannies unless inured to mass laughter and thrown bricks.
1978-81, 247cc t/s twin,
30hp, 100mph, 45mpg, 280lbs
Crazy little stroker that rivals Kawa triples. Pistons, gearboxes and main bearings major problems. Heavy vibes indicate imminent crank failure; thrashed examples last only 12k. Poor acceleration may be clogged silencers as they need cleaning frequently. Swinging arm pivot seizes in and seat splits. Worn suspension causes wobbles. Pirelli tyres help. Several still left on the road and stock rebuilds can last for 20 to 25k
1981-84, 249cc DOHC twin
26hp, 90/80mph, 70mpg, 380lbs
GSX good for the first 30k then valve, cams and camchain problems. Also chronic starting problems – check HT leads, coils, etc and remove killswitch; electrics have a periodic need to burn out even when upgraded. Needs stock exhaust to avoid flat spots but collector corrodes. Haven’t seen any older than 60k. GS250T custom version with odd handling and quick rot chassis and electrics.
1987 on, 249cc OHC single,
20hp, 80mph, 70mpg, 295lbs
Mild custom single that has some potential for serious commuting. Engine runs to 40k with few problems then piston, valves and camchain wear; the crankshaft tends to be shagged around 70k. Chassis gradually rots away, with silencer first to go – if you find one over five years old in nice shape almost invariably the bike’s been well looked after.
1994 on, 248cc w/c DOHC four
40hp 120mph 60mpg 360lb
Amusing grey import retro that mirrors the shape of the old 1100 Katana but with a much more compact, lightweight and competent chassis. Power peaks at 13,500 revs; luckily the six speed gearbox’s slick. Whilst the watercooled 16 valve motor’s tough check for both exhaust and rear caliper rot. Rear shocks wear quickly, causing some wallowing from the back end. Also 53hp, 400lb 400 version.
1984-90, 247cc w/c t/s twin,
45hp, 110mph, 40mpg, 300lb
Harsh stroker replica with dated styling but tough to 40k when looked after. Thrashed and neglected examples can seize, burn out pistons or wreck small-ends. Rebuilt motors often last for less than 10k. Vibration and comfort limits the appeal, many crashed, bashed and poorly straightened.
1990 on, 249cc w/c t/s twin,
60hp 135mph 35mpg 300lb
Fast, sometimes sublime race replica, cramped riding position causes havoc on long trips. ’91 model had revised, slightly better, chassis with upside-down forks, etc. Try to buy one in a standard state of tune. Check for crash damage as they are popular with the back street merchants. Post ’93 have tougher engines.
1991 on, 349cc OHC single,
30hp 90mph 60mpg 240lb
36 inch seat height may put off shorties. Engine’s tough, no problems for first 30k, the top end initial area of concern. Neglect of oil changes shows up in shot gearchange. ’95 model had electric start – useful as hot starting poor.
SUZUKI 350 GOOSE
1992 on, 349cc OHC single,
33hp, 95mph, 60mpg, 325lb
Grey import with a weird line in style built around the DR350 motor in higher state of tune. Works well enough on the road but odd styling’s rather a turn off. Pillions quickly develop a funny walk after mild exposure to the minimal rear seat. Many engine parts are interchangeable with the DR, so some hope on the spares front.
1979-81, 369/396cc OHC single
30hp 90mph 85/75mpg 300lb
Simple single that can run to 35k with few problems as long as the oil’s changed every 1000 miles. Kickstart gear’s weak and valves, rockers and cam can go down within 20,000 miles. Spares are now becoming rare but quite a few bikes have survived 15 years of abuse. DR400’s reliable and robust but off-road abuse often destroyed them. Some SP’s were converted for road use.
1972-76, 372/543cc t/s triple,
37/45hp, 100/110mph, 45/35mpg
Slow and constipated triples able to run to 35k if left stock and the poor suspension didn’t have the rider off. Main’s seals and small-ends first to go but the gearbox output bearing was also a weak point (check play in the sprocket and also check for chain breakage damage). Also dodgy clutch, centre piston holes easily and exhaust studs break. 550 version marginally more useful.
1982-84, 396cc OHC single,
27hp 90mph 60mpg 320lb
Bland single with poor economy compared to the SP400, which shares a similar motor. Boring looks hide a certain toughness, some engines have done 60k; top end first to give hassle, especially the rockers. 6V electrics rather naff and they rot with age, as does most of the chassis. Chronic swinging arm bearing demise, best to make up some phosphor-bronze bushes. Vibes around 4k normal. Still some well cared for examples on offer, not many rats left.
1977-81, 398/425cc DOHC twin
36hp 105mph 60mpg 380lb
Classic looking twin with remote ride and engine but flickable, stable chassis. Any engine that vibrates or smokes is on the way out. Camchains snap, valves burn out and pistons seize if servicing neglected. Exhaust and electrics rot. Single gear driven balancer works well and gives little trouble. Anything with more than 40k on the clock’s troublesome. Also nice ’80 GS450; GSX400 weak eight valve head but faster.
1981-86, 398cc DOHC four,
42hp 105mph 60mpg 405lb
Needs religious maintenance of its 16 valve head and carbs to avoid burnt valves. Some bikes lasted well, others wrecked the crankshaft. Pre ’83 mills had small sump which allowed the motor to overheat and kill the engine – look for blob of weld over oil capacity plate. Usual alternator and exhaust demise. Easy to lose lots of money on one that’s about to blow up.
1991-95, 398cc w/c DOHC four
50hp 115mph 55mpg 370lb
Naked, flash styling combined with highly strung engine makes for some confusion. Carburation easily upset by holed exhaust or blocked airfilter; post ’94 bikes less temperamental. Relative cheapness commends it but test ride to see if it suits your riding style. Also Jap market 40hp, 345lb 250 version and GSX 400V Bandit with variable valve timing. A good example can provide plenty of kicks on a minimal budget. Old rats can be hell on earth.
1994 on, 399cc w/c DOHC four
53hp, 120mph, 55mpg, 385lb
Grey import with a chassis straight out of the seventies (although it’s far more competent than the heavy old bruisers) and a similar if less temperamental motor to the Bandit. Also a GSX400S version with period piece handlebar fairing and blue/ white paint scheme. The motor’s still highly strung and therefore somewhat misplaced in retro guise.
1987-89, 448cc DOHC twin,
40hp, 105mph, 50mpg, 380lb
Old style twin, not developed since the 70's. Runs well to around 50k when either the crank bearings or top end play up but there are a reasonable supply of used bits in breakers. Intrusive vibration and noisy motor are signs of an engine about to die. Chassis starts to rot after the third British winter.
1989 on, 490cc DOHC twin,
50hp, 110mph, 60mpg, 380lb
Reasonable blend of handling, performance and frugality. Power delivery and light front end not to some tastes. Hard ridden DR bikes wore the mill out in 30k, but milder use doubles that. Chassis rot more of a problem than engine reliability, not helped by silly rear disc and monoshock. Jap market 40hp, 400cc version on grey circuit.
1967-74, 492cc t/s twin,
50hp, 110mph, 45mpg, 400lb
Classic styling and strong performance made this tough old stroker twin popular. Could run to 50,000 miles without too many hassles. Most suffered cracked cylinder heads, leaking main’s seals, seized in engine mounting bolts and gearbox demise; some had oil pump failures. Sign of a good mill’s a slick gearbox, lack of exhaust smog and quietness. Check front TLS drum for cracks.
1975-77, 492cc t/s twin,
44hp, 105mph, 50mpg, 400lb
Detuned T500 with slab-sided styling that’s grown less risible. Handling’s good as long as the chassis bearings are changed every 15k and the rear shocks are replaced. Same main's seals’ demise (which empties gearbox of oil) as T500 when the bike’s stored. Engines run to 60k without major hassle, should be smooth to almost the point of remoteness.
1975-76, 497cc Wankel engine
60hp, 105mph, 30mpg, 520lb
Watercooled rotary only had smoothness to commend it unless you like the starship looks. Electric fan failure causes rotor to crack, rotor tips susceptible to poor oil and spark plugs are short-lived enough to make H1 owners gasp. Expensive to run, junk suspension that cause the shakes and a pig to hustle through traffic.
1985-89, 498cc w/c t/s four,
90hp, 140mph, 30mpg, 350lb
Fast, furious stroker that has a complex motor which causes maximum hassle when it starts to wear out after 35k – which means most examples left on the road. Also, most were crashed and repaired poorly; check the frame over very carefully, especially the rear subframe which bends first and is very hard to repair without cracking. Lack of comfort, the odd speed wobble and high running costs.
1977-85, 549cc DOHC four,
54hp, 110mph, 50mpg, 450lb
The strongest Jap four, with lots of roller bearings and gear primary drive. Stable, safe handling but excess mass. Alternator and rectifier (use Superdream items) burn out. Top end eventually goes after 75k. Engine should be smooth and clean running. Exhaust and caliper rot endemic to the breed. Katana version looks flash, does 60mpg but lacks comfort. Custom version handles strangely above 70mph. Expensive on consumables but very tough.
1983-88, 572cc DOHC four,
65hp, 125mph, 50mpg, 400lb
16 valve head needs more attention than the GS, especially after 40k. Twitchy handling, fast wearing rear linkages and naff brakes. Poor engine alloy makes for lots of stripped threads. Engine goes heavy on performance at 7k but can be run economically below that. Possible to burn out the valves and pistons on non-standard exhausts (OE’s rust rapidly). Find one afflicted with electrical hassles (cheap enough to fix) for low dosh.
1988 on, 600/750cc DOHC four
70/80hp, 140mph, 50/40mpg
Alternatives to the race replica 600’s which go almost as well for most of the time, though benefit from a suspension upgrade. Plenty about with low mileage and in nice nick but the odd one thrashed, crashed and bashed. Tough engine but finish goes off after three/four years. Rear mono- shock bearings often shagged after 20k and electrical hassles around 50k. Some have done 75k plus.
1993 on, 599cc w/c DOHC four
99hp, 145mph, 45mpg, 430lb
Interesting alternative to the CBR and ZZR600 that lacks their ultimate edge but makes up for it with greater practicality and lower cost. Plastic cracks badly in minor spills, rear caliper gums up in winter and quite heavy on the consumables. The looks tend to grow on you with time but older CBR600’s for the same money.
SUZUKI 600 BANDIT
1995 on, 599cc DOHC four,
80hp, 135mph, 50mpg, 430lb
Naked sportster with interesting line in style, handling and performance but rather heavy for this genre. Engine’s tough and long lasting, chassis can go off after 20k, especially brakes and forks' seals. Some DR's have done 100k!
'90 on, 59/8750/805/1400cc v-twin,
60/75hp 105/115mph 60/50mpg
Tough shaft drive customs that handle okay within the speed limits but can throw you off when pushed. After three or four years expect the front disc to rot away and the finish to start going off unless the bike’s only used for the summer. 1400 has monster torque, mass.
1981-84, 673cc DOHC four,
73hp, 125mph, 45mpg, 500lb
Tuned up GT with Katana styling. Occasional cam, clutch, valve and gearbox problems up to 35k which become much more common thereafter until crank or pistons start to break up after 50k. Good on motorways and usable down country lanes if a touch heavy going. The excellent styling means that quite a few ended up cherished and remain in remarkably good nick, despite the way the exhaust, calipers and alloy rots in a winter.
1981-86, 673cc DOHC four,
64hp, 120mph, 45mpg, 500lb
Fat, shaft drive slob but engine tough for first 30k then camshaft, valve and tensioner hassles; crankshafts can go after 60k. Particularly susceptible to alternator and rectifier demise, rotting wiring can cause days of amusing hassle. Look for quiet top end, shaft drive that doesn’t ruin the gearchange and smooth power delivery. Crank on the way out causes harsh vibes from 5000rpm up.
SUZUKI LS650 SAVAGE
1987 on, 650cc OHC single,
40hp, 95mph, 60mpg, 360lb
Huge thumper in custom guise, with belt drive, that produces excess of low end torque but gasps at the upper end of the range. Performance is helped by the relative lack of mass, worth looking at for someone who wants a custom without the usual 500lbs plus of metal. Piston, cam and gearbox eventually give trouble. Also Jap market, 25hp 400cc version.
1990 on, 640/780cc OHC single
45/52hp, 100mph, 45mpg, 320lbs
Amusing trail bikes with useful abilities on or off road and competitive pricing. Thumper vibes intrude when thrashed, plastic cracks quite easily and old ones can suffer from weak electrics. Air and oil cooled motor’s reliable to 30/40k when the top end becomes a bit finicky. At that kind of mileage chassis rot can be advanced, especially if used off-road a lot. Brand new DR650 for ’96.
1974-77, 740cc t/s triple,
60hp, 120mph, 35mpg, 520lb
Rather odd stroker triple with too much mass and too little performance. Engine can be tuned for more go when it becomes quick seize and suspension, brakes, need upgrade to avoid dance with the Grim Reaper. Stock engines are okay for 20k, maybe twice that if used mildly, before crank, pistons, gearbox and seals go. Some had overheating problems from the cooling system. Some way overpriced!
1977-79, 748cc DOHC four,
68hp, 125mph, 40mpg, 500lb
Classic looking four with tough old engine that has run around the clock and more...some had valve, clutch and camchain hassles around 40k; they all had alternator and rectifier burn-outs. Handles well on a good set of tyres (Pirelli’s best) but can degenerate into a dangerous old beast with age, although a majority now run later brakes and suspension. Some nicely modded bikes at reasonable prices.
1980-89, 747cc DOHC four,
84hp, 130mph, 45mpg, 460lb
Early twin shocker needs alloy swinging arm, decent shocks and Metz tyres to handle well. Mono-shock version better until linkages wear. 16 valve engine tough until 50k when cam, valve and alternator hassles. If valve maintenance’s neglected the top end goes down rapidly. Half or full fairing models. Chassis rot gets to them eventually, twitchy front end means many were dropped.
1985-93, 749cc DOHC four,
100hp, 150mph, 35mpg, 400lb
Peaky, vibratory, powerful and tough engine in uncomfortable, twitchy alloy chassis. Con-rods and clutch can break if raced. Redesign in ’88 and further upgrade in ’90 – improved handling but more mass diminished the performance edge. Many pre ’90 bikes were crashed and straightened. Many went the street fighter route to good effect!
1993-96, 749cc w/c DOHC four
120hp, 160mph, 35mpg, 460lb
Watercooled upgrade with upside down forks and excellent chassis. Indeed, the handling’s so good that it makes you forget the godawful riding position that even makes the GSXR1100 seem sane. Engine’s as tough as they come, at least in road use, but early ones are starting to blow their forks seals, seize their calipers and wreck their chassis bearings.
SUZUKI GSXR750 SRAD
1996 on, 750cc w/c DOHC four
128hp 175mph 40mpg 400lb
Race replica that needs a skilled hand to extract the most out of it, but has to be considered generally brilliant and a real rival to the CBR900. You need to test the two of them to see which more suits your personal style. Comfort improved over the old GSXR series (which isn’t saying much). Motors tough, brakes rot over winter, tyres very short-lived.
1991 on, 805cc w/c OHC v-twin
60hp 120mph 45mpg 460lb
Strange roadster with a long wheelbase out of all proportion to the compact vee-twin engine’s dimensions. Pleasant enough to ride, presumably meant to appeal to those who want both custom style and something that goes around corners. Engine’s similar to Intruder, tough up to 50/60k.
exc £3200 good £1975 poor £800
1994 on, 900cc w/c DOHC four
125hp 165mph 35mpg 460lb
More usable, and cheaper, than the outright replicas. Great from the saddle, with thrilling power to weight ratio and safe handling. Usual high consumption of consumables and fuel limits long distance touring appeal but reasonable protection from the plastic. Some low mileage examples turning up on the used market and the odd crashed one in breakers.
1979-89, 850cc DOHC four
80hp, 130mph, 40mpg, 550lb
Tourer that worked okay when ridden mildly but often ended up as cheap hack – weak clutch, leaking cylinder head gasket, clunky gearbox, dubious electrics, rotten brakes after 25k. Nasty 1000GT!
1979-89, 997cc DOHC four
90hp, 135mph, 45mpg, 520lb
Large four with lax handling but motor tough enough to last for 100,000 miles, though after 70k lots of bits are worn out. Clutch, valves, cams and rebores at high mileages. Also sportier GS1000S.
1980-88, 1100cc DOHC four,
100hp, 135mph, 40mpg, 535lb
Strong motor housed in bland chassis, turns nasty with age, most run upgraded suspension. Early twin shocker can be made to handle (use Michelin’s), mono-shock version remains twitchy, turns in some wild speed wobbles when the rear linkages wear (Metz tyres best). Engines reliable for 50/60k and more. 16 valve top end a bit suspect and wheelie merchants kill the transmission. Electrics turn naff with age.
SUZUKI GSX1000/1100M KATANA
1981-83, 998/1075cc DOHC four
110hp, 140mph, 40mpg, 500lb
Tough engine, 100k plus, in heavy, reasonable chassis. Needs new Metz’s to handle...comes into the power at 90mph, weaves at 120mph and speed wobbles at 130mph. Clutch rattle, rough tickover, normal, should have instant throttle response. Electrical burn-outs, blown fork seals, chronic problems. New 95hp version in Japan in ’94.
1987-93, 1074cc DOHC four,
130hp, 160mph, 45mpg, 470lb
Potent cafe racer, lacks comfort, vibratory at high revs and twitchy in town. 1990 model uses similar frame to the 750 and upside-down forks. ’92 model worst handling, many ended up crashed to death. Most thrashed and abused.
1993-96, 1074cc w/c DOHC four
150hp 170mph 40mpg 510lb
Very fast, extra mass and updated alloy chassis doesn’t make it too inspiring in the corners. Engine strong, even the electrics are so far reliable, high mileage examples suffer from finicky calipers, blown suspension seals and cracking plastic. ’95 model 25lbs lighter, better handling, but inlet restrictors have to be removed to get decent acceleration (nasty job!).
1988-93, 1074cc DOHC four,
120hp 150mph 45mpg 550lb
Huge Grand Tourer that looks neat enough but is overweight, not so comfortable as a BMW over long distances but handles slightly better. Complex engine. Signs of a good ’un are lack of secondary vibes under nine thou, plastic without cracks and a quiet top end. Viable, cheap alternative to BMW.
1991-95, 1074cc DOHC four,
125hp 140mph 35mpg 560lb
Shaft driven brute with wild performance and a chassis that’s slightly superior to the old eighties horrors, but still one for those who like to live on the wild side. A lot of performance for the money. Gearbox, top end, ignition and carb problems afflict high milers
SUZUKI GSF1200 BANDIT
1996 on, 1200cc w/c DOHC four
100hp 140mph 40mpg 450lb
The old air/oiled cooled GSXR11 engine upgraded but detuned in reasonably light chassis that handles fine for most of the time. Also wimpy looking half faired version. The naked Bandit was in great demand in ’96, few new ones selling for less than six grand. More excitement than most of the replicas without any of the comfort horrors in town, maximum torque developed at a mere 4500 revs. Stainless steel exhaust and good paint shows what can be done on a minimal budget. Some wrecked by DRs by about 45k - main's knocking from a lack of oil changes and valves burnt out.