Of course we love old bikes here at CB-Net – but we have to draw the line somewhere and this is ‘somewhere.’
We should start this latest ‘sin bin’ off by saying that Yamaha’s GTS1000A was a brilliant bike and a real technical marvel.
OK, so it had an old-school Yamaha FZR1000 EXUP motor in it. And – yes –we admit that motor was de-tuned to around 100bhp to make it fit with the-then supposed Europe-wide 100bhp rule that was going to come in during the early 1990s, but bear with us.
Just look at the specs and just look at the bike. At its very heart was not the motor, but the Omega chassis, upon which were bolted both front and rear swingarms. The rear was a conventional swinger, while the front did the twin jobs of steering and suspension at the same time. The advantage of hub-centre steering is that you don’t get the dive associated with normal ‘conventional’ forks. Yamaha engineers present at the launch said they wanted the GTS to behave the same over a wide-variety of riding conditions: that meant with one rider going flat-out, a singleton with luggage, two-up with a pillion, or with a pillion and luggage. When you have a front-end that doesn’t dive under braking, that helps accomplish all of those feats…
Want more? Well, it had fuel-injection, ABS came as standard and exhaust gases exited through a catalytic converter, which took away 60% of the exhaust’s hydrocarbons, 70% of its carbon monoxide and 60% of its nitrogen oxides, so it was greener than a glasshouse, too!
Let’s get back to that ‘old fashioned’ motor… we’ve said it had fuel-injection strapped to it, but to neuter it to 100bhp it had softer cam timing, narrower exhaust downpipes and the EXUP system was left off the bike. This was because the injection system was actually 10% more efficient than the donor bike’s carbs and therefore gave plenty of midrange anyways. At the time, Yamaha claimed that the GTS gave almost the same power between 6500 and 9500rpm as the old EXUP sportster itself, giving the bike a real linear feel on the throttle… So all was well there, too, unless you wanted daft bhp figures.
Launch reports from the event in North Africa came back and test riders raved about the huge torque from the motor, phenomenal brakes and amazing high-speed stability. The bike even had three trip meters… OK, so they also said the motor lacked a little character and that steering was slow and that the bike offered little in the way of feedback from the front-end, but still….
The big problem was that it took around four years to develop the GTS and therefore Yamaha felt they had to put a premium on the recommended retail price. Back in the 1990s (as today) we all looked at the price and specifications of a bike before spending the folding and – with its 100bhp and a retail price of £11,979 in 1994 – things didn’t bode well for the GTS.
Think about it. The then-new Kawasaki ZZ-R1100D came in at just £8995. OK, so it was more ‘sports’ than the GTS, but it was much cheaper and also had around 20bhp more… Now let’s look at the BMWs on offer. Back then, even a K1100RS was a grand cheaper than the GTS. Dammit all, Yamaha’s own FJ1200 was sold alongside it, doing most of the jobs the GTS did (but in its own ‘plodding’ way) for just £8500…
Today history has been kinder to the GTS, the (few) owners that have them in the UK respect the machine’s traits and rare, low milers have gone for daft money – up to £10K! But (and this is a big ‘CB-NET’ sized but) when a Divvy 900 does the same job for a tenth of the bunce second-hand… you have to question it…
Price new: £11,979 (1994)
Price now: £2500-£4000
Engine: 1002cc liquid-cooled inline four, DOHC.
FOR: Comfortable, stable
AGAINST: You can’t find ‘em these days… so few on the roads!