2019-12-31 1979 Suzuki GS1000L Cruisers View Listings
The 1979 Suzuki GS1000L felt like a monster compared to my first bike. I had noticed it in a dark old grain shed at a neighbor's party in rural Iowa. Under the dust I made out the Suzuki emblem and a speedometer that had somewhere around 19000 miles on it. I called about it later and was re-directed to the owner who said if I could get it running I could have it. I was there the next day and shocked to discover it was a one liter bike! A decade of neglect left the throttle only barely able to lift the slides. Another year and they would have been locked solid. I even broke a jet needle trying to free them from the varnish. Two weeks later with all unusable components replaced, it was running off an iv drip can with 10 years of dust and oil smoke burning off and drifting up and over the machine. The next few months saw a new jet kit, more carb tweaking, electronic ignition fitted, led instrument bulbs, new tires and other improvements made including 4 into 4 pipes. The end result was a bike that sounded like a world war two fighter on startup, and once warmed up ran very well. I could never get it to start as nice as my best friend's cb750k, but the battery and charging system were up to the task with enough extra juice to power an h4 headlight also. I've heard that it's important to keep the oil level up to cool the stater coils. Mind also, all switches and connectors as they corrode easily. The engine was a work of art with the crank and transmission running on roller bearings and a gear driven primary. The only chains were the cam chain and the drive chain. It was awash with torque. Owed partially, I suspect, to the weight of the crank and a relatively square bore and stroke. Something most manufacturers seem to have forgotten. This made it fun and practical to ride, as takeoff was always easy and low speed drivability surprisingly good for a bike that wasn't much less than 600 lbs. The torque stayed all the way up to 7000 when the power delivery turned savage. They made 90 some HP stock and I suspect I was well over that. Handling was awful but predictable due mostly to age, weight, and soft suspension. Again, if only I had access to half the parts I do now, fork springs, shocks, and tapered steering head bearings would have gone a long way to sorting it out. As it was it would weave and shake at anything over 80, and get downright terrifying, so I mostly just used it for speed limit touring. The tires were too thin and anything soft was quickly devoured. Fuel economy was never better than 40 and often worse than 30. Even so, it was still far less expensive to run than many of the sport bikes I have owned since, and will always be one of my favorites.
- Mike S., North Dakota
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