Usually machines are discovered at the many shows throughout the year, or by readers submitting pictures and details of their machine but, this one was for sale in the classifieds section. Why would someone wish to sell such a beauty of a bike? Well in reality it was only placed for sale on a whim and once the owner, Simon Francis’s wife, Fiona, discovered his plan to part with it she soon put a stop to the proceedings. Her reasoning being the supreme comfort of the pillion seat making it one of the best bikes she has ever been on the back of and, from her point of view it was simply not, and never would be, for sale.
Simon agrees with the decision and now would be very reluctant to part with his Wes Cooley replica. The bike was bought just about as you see it here and was originally built from new parts by the now defunct Village bike shop in Walkdon, on the outskirts of Manchester. Running gear, forks and brake calipers etc, from a GSX-R 1100H model was used to hold up each end and finished off with a pair of race specification Dymag wheels. The forks have been rebuilt by Maxton to give a very high level of performance while the rear shocks are Maxton produced items and just a effective.
In standard trim the GS 1000 is a pretty impressive motorcycle. Strip down a few pounds of weight and add a extra dollop of power and what you have is a stunning motorcycle, more than capable of fighting off much younger two-wheeled machinery. Add to this enhanced power, a suitable set of clothes, a stunning Dream machine paint job and what you get is this, almost a pure racer on the road.
Simon uses the power to great effect too, often shaming those plastic rocket owners when it comes to the art of getting into, around and then back out of twisty corners ahead of the rest.
Even at a standstill the Wes Cooley replica look likes it doing the proverbial 100mph. Its stance gives off all of the right signals and you just know this is one machine that is going to go as well if not better than it looks. The way the GS derived machine just sits there, pert and ready to go at the slightest opportunity, sends all of the correct signals to a potential rider. The race number boards and hefty stainless steel oil hosing that winds its way around the engine, also suggest this is one hot ship. It handles superbly and goes like stink too. Within the blink of an eye the front wheel has been in the air through the first few gears, before the bike heads on up to a top speed of 150mph. With just a small handlebar mounted fairing between you and the elements, this is one heck of an exciting, and unrelenting, ride.
Thanks to the power spread the gearbox, although the standard GS item, feels very much like a close-ratio race box making full use of the engines desire to get up and go. With aggressively tuned camshafts, slightly filtered carburettor mouths and the open Yoshimura four-into-one pipe the engine is free to get up and go, which it does at every opportunity. The extra oomph afforded by the Wiseco 1085cc big bore kit also makes itself known. In addition to the Wiseco parts are Yoshimura 1mm over size valves and shim buckets, the latter being far lighter than the Suzuki shim set up and able to safely withstand sustained high revs. Each cylinder is fed by one of a bank of 29mm Mikuni smoothbore carburettors, these as the name suggest work very smoothly and clearly much work has been done on the dyno getting the fuelling spot on.
Producing around a third more horsepower than a standard GS1000 ever made, and weighing around 40kgs less, the bike is transformed from its original form, literally leaping forward with every pulse from the inline four-cylinder engine and taking your breath away with the manner it does so. For safety’s sake the huge pressed together crankshaft has been welded, and also indexed beforehand for total accuracy. On odd occasions, the 7-plate, wet clutch cries enough and a gear change is made followed by a hint of slip, at other times the clutch plays ball and hardly a murmur is heard from it as the full power passes through the device on its way to the rear end where its full force will be felt. This strange phenomenon must be a result of the torque and horse power curves conspiring at certain points, and over powering the workings of the clutch, once the range that this happens within was spotted it could be avoided with out further problems but it does indicate the high tune that this engine is currently in. Any more power and a heavier duty clutch would be called for.
Winding the throttle back brings on an assault across all of the bodies senses, the overall sensation of speed, the noise and the sit up and beg riding position all adding up to a spirited ride. A strange mix of Harris rear-set footrests, cut away seat and high Renthal bars, at first creates an uncomfortable seating position that doesn’t get any better at low speed, however. Once the speedo, tucked away in its GSX-R foam surround, starts to get up around the dusty side of the dial the bike begins to make more sense. Your weight is lifted from the front end by the force of the wind and tight twisty corners become a real doddle with so much leverage on hand while your feet are perfectly placed for quick changes in direction.
Of course no road goes on forever and before too long there is a need, sometimes urgent, to wind the speedo back around the dial so it can rest a while. The EBC Pro-Lite discs fitted either side of the front Dymag wheel are grabbed by the GSX-R four piston calipers to great effect, standing the big muscle bike on its nose, if the lever is used with too much enthusiasm, and never fading even from very high speed. With so much power available from the braking system, the front end could all too easily fail to keep control of the proceedings but, with Maxton internals doing their stuff within the Suzuki legs, the wheel never loses its intimacy with the tarmac.
This control continues throughout the ride and, whenever the front wheel is touching the tarmac, the forks are totally ahead of the proceedings. The same can be said of the rear end too, for a twin shock set up, the rear feels very progressive and modern, once again thanks to the Maxton boys and their expansive knowledge of things bouncy.
Close inspection reveals a few pointers that this bike is a practical machine as well as a real head turner. Discreet flush mounted indicators either side of the nose cone are all that give away the bikes non race heritage up front while a pair of pillion rests indicators and of course the side stand give the game away further back. You do have to look closely however and to most this GS could be the real McCoy.
Suzuki GS1000 Wes Cooley replica Specifications
- Engine air-cooled four-cylinder inline DOHC
- Capacity 1085cc Wiseco big bore kit
- Bore & stroke 73 x 64.8mm
- Carburetion 29mm Mikuni Smoothbores
- Max Power 116bhp @ 8870rpm
- Torque 69 ft-lbs @ 8200rpm
- Ignition Dyna coil
- Transmission 5-speed wet clutch chain final drive
- Frame steel tube twin loop cradle
- Suspension 41mm telescopic forks Maxton rear shocks
- Wheels 110/80 x 18 140/70 x 17 Dymags
- Brakes 310mm EBC prolite discs, four piston calipers
270mm twin piston caliper
- Wheelbase 1500mm
- Weight 189kgs
- Fuel capacity 19ltrs
- Top Speed – 150mph
Who is Wes Cooley?
Wes Cooley was one of the young hard charging riders that dragged American racing kicking and screaming into the modern era. Before the Cooley period, Superbike racing was made up of BMW based twins and riders with smooth European styles battling it out in a gentleman like manner, this was replaced with fire breathing Japanese inline fours, smoking tyres and dragging knees.Wester Steven Cooley was born in Los Angeles on June 28, 1956. He came out of Southern California club racing where his father, a former racer, ran a club racing organization. Cooley honed his skills on small Grand Prix bikes before being hired by Yoshimura to compete in Superbike aboard Kawasaki’s KZ1000. Pops Yoshimura built a very fast motor, but the handling of the big KZs was notoriously bad.
Yoshimura began working with Suzuki in 1978. The GS1000, while no more powerful than the Kawasaki that Cooley had raced the year before, was a much better handling motorcycle. Cooley picked up wins at Pocono and Laguna Seca that year. Taming the new GS1000 roadster, Wes took Suzuki to their first AMA Superbike title in 1979. Of course this wasn’t without more than a little assistance from the Yoshimura tuning company who breathed their magic on the strong and capable Suzuki mill, turning the already successful, and highly rated, road machine into a real force to be reckoned with on the track. Cooley was part of the company’s clean sweep of the 1979 Daytona Superbike event. Ron Pierce won, Cooley was second and David Emde was third, all three riding Suzuki GS1000s. Cooley didn’t win a race that season, but finished on the podium at every race and edged out Pierce, and a young new Kawasaki rider named Freddie Spencer, for the title.
The 1980 season turned out to be one of the most hotly contested series, and proved to be a turning point in Superbike history. It was a battle between three riders on three different brands: Cooley on Suzuki, Eddie Lawson on Kawasaki, and Spencer now on Honda. AMA Superbike was quickly becoming the premier series in AMA road racing and people throughout the racing world were starting to take notice.
Cooley had a great relationship with Yoshimura Suzuki owner Pops Yoshimura;
“Pops was not only amazingly gifted as a tuner, but I don’t think I ever knew anyone in racing that worked as hard as Pops did,” Cooley said. “I felt as happy winning the Superbike championship for Pops as I did for myself.”
Not only had Cooley become a racing icon in America, his reputation also grew internationally when he and team mate Mike Baldwin rode a Suzuki GS1000 to victory in the inaugural Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance race in 1978. Cooley came back two years later and won the famous race again for Suzuki, this time with New Zealander Graeme Crosby.
In May of 1985, at the Sears Point circuit, Cooley sustained life-threatening injuries. Cooley made a slow, but steady recovery from the horrible accident. He actually came back to race a few more AMA Superbike races in the late-1980s and scored a couple of top-10 finishes, but he never recaptured the speed he had before his accident.
“I think physically I was able to go as fast as I had before,” claimed Cooley. “But I lost that mental edge that it takes to run at the highest level of racing.”
Cooley went on to teach in a popular riding school for a few years, and later earned a nursing degree. When inducted into the Hall of Fame, he was working as a medical professional in Idaho. He said he decided to work in the medical field during his recovery from the 1985 accident.
Cooley will always be remembered for changing the face of AMA Superbike racing in its formative years. He was also a fan favourite throughout his racing career. He often took the time after a hard day of racing to sit down and chat with admiring fans. Wes Cooley helped build AMA Superbike racing into one of the premier racing series internationally recognised as a proving ground for great talent and future world championship riders.
Check out the real Wes Cooley GS1000…
Suzuki GS1000 Wes Cooley Replica Gallery
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