Street special Suzuki 1260 Katana
I had been looking forward to cocking a leg over this particular Katana special for some time. Its mix of classic and modern styling made it look fast from the outset, while the spec sheet suggested it certainly would go, so I was keen to sample her for myself. The first opportunity came during the photo shoot, usually I nip off for a quick familiarisation spin while the cameraman gets the kit ready and this I did, popping the odd wheelie to get a feel for the torque curve and letting the engine have its head to feel the power. The first thing that that sprang to mind appeared during the first time a hauled on the brakes, a weird feeling of front end lightness and lack of feel soon occurred to me that the pipes were decking out during the last few millimetres of fork movement and could threaten to lift the burden from the wheel during a bout of serious use, with disastrous consequences, not good, but nothing worth dwelling on as sliding the legs through the yolks just a shade would soon cure this. Once this factor had been dialled in the rest was a breeze, bags of torque, accurate fuelling and a useful over rev was what the engine had to offer, just the thing for a bit of street racing and making the Kat purrfectly at home up and down the ten miles of S Bends that make up the B1190. For such a low slung beast, the handling is sweet and predictable, carrying silly angles of lean, always keeping a watchful eye on the amount of throttle that is used as the rear will spin up even when upright so any angle away for the vertical soon has the back wheel impersonating the front, despite the huge grip of the Conti tyres.
All was well, and with the shoot done I returned the Kat to its proud owner with a whole list of ticks down the test sheet indicating that she had passed with flying colours with only a couple of minor indiscretions to her name. The owner was more than happy with his creations behaviour and swore he would address the header pipe versus tarmac battle, hopefully with the result being a no contact bout from then on.
A few weeks down the line and the Katana and I were at the Mallory Park Festival of 1000 bikes. I was left without transport home so it made perfect sense to borrow the Katana, and enjoyed a superb ride home down the A46. The Sixhills road between Leicester and Nottingham became a series of treble figure wheelies as the huge torque cheated gravity on the hill crests, while the stable chassis made light work of any twisty bits, of which, with a speedy machine such as this, there is many, even on a “straight” Roman road.
Braking proved to be both strong and predictable and I must apologise here and now to that guy on his brand new Blade on the Newark ring road, sorry mate but it looks like you have over spent by a good few grand as I really did waste you with “my” 25-year-old bike. There he was trying his hardest, but failing to make a mark on the knee sliders of his spanking “Dainespidstar” space suit, when yours truly on the office hack, dressed in jeans and with a rucksack on his back, duly spanked his ass with usable power and a bit of sheer cheek. To top that when I pulled up outside home and left the Hot Kat to tick its way to sleep, the neighbours said “ that’s a nice bike”, now bear in mind the sort of modern tackle that gets parked on my drive on a day-to-day basis and the fact that they have barely commented before? Clearly the old gal looks as stunning as she goes.
The next day saw the same journey but reversed save for having to plan where to get the high-octane gas that she runs best on. I arrived at the circuit in very good time and feeling perfectly stress free, the early morning ride had been both speedy and exciting and yet felt perfectly safe, above all it left me wanting to have a good run around Mallory on it as well. Unfortunately this wasn’t possible as I had other machines to punt around, what a day.
The Kat is a great machine. Ok, it has suffered a few annoying mechanical woes but I am pretty certain we know the cause of those and she wont do it again. The mix of old and new cycle parts has worked a treat to create a machine with the look of an old girl but the feel and go of a new one, job done I reckon.
Suzuki Katana 1260 Special Specifications
Engine: 1982 GSX1100 DOHC four stroke four, fitted with Wiseco high compression 1260 big bore kit and Kent cams, cylinder head gas flowed by Ian Cross.
Carburation: Standard Mikuni CV carbs fitted with K&N filters and Dynojet kits, 160 main jets.
Power: 122bhp @ 8200 rpm
Torque: 88.57 lbs/ft @ 6250rpm
Transmission: Standard gearbox and clutch, final drive converted to 530 chain with 13mm offset sprocket. 17t front sprocket, 39t rear.
Exhaust: Motad Venom 4:1
Lubrication: Standard, with Earl’s oil cooler.
Frame: 1982 GSX1100SZ Katana, braced by Richard Williams Engineering.
Front suspension: Kawasaki ZX6RF1 rebuilt with Tarozzi fork tubes.
Rear suspension: Standard swing arm, Ikon twin shock absorbers.
Front brakes: Twin ZX6RF1 discs, Harrison Billet 6 pot calipers, Yamaha R1 master cylinder.
Rear brake: Kawasaki ZX6RF1
Front wheel: Kawasaki ZX6RF1
Rear wheel: Kawasaki ZX6RF1
Front tyre: Conti Road Attack, 120/60ZR17
Rear tyre: Conti Road Attack, 160/60ZR17
Bodywork: Standard Katana 1100 with tailpiece adapted from Suzuki GSXR1000K4 – seat re-worked to fit. Powerbronze iridium screen.
Best standing start quarter mile: 11.07 seconds
Best quarter mile terminal speed: 126mph
Top speed: 156mph
Suzuki Katana Special Gallery
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