Suzuki has come a long way – from initial clip on bicycle engines to the world’s fastest production motorcycle. The introduction of the Suzuki GSX series motorcycle has transformed the whole super bike market to follow the leading steps of Suzuki.
Suzuki Motorcyle History
In 1909 Michio Suzuki manufactured silk looms in his home country of Japan. Then in about 1952, Suzuki had financial problems and ventured into developing clip on engines to bicycle frames. The first model was called the Power Free (36cc), while the follow-up model was the Diamond Free (60cc). Suzuki company produced its first motorcycle in 1954 called the Colleda (90cc).
Suzuki built small capacity bikes during the 1950s and 60s and had only small export success until the introduction of the X6 (T20 super six), which gave Suzuki much needed brand credibility.
With a well established name, Suzuki dared enter the big bike market in 1967 with the introduction of the T500. It was known as the Titan in America and the Cobra in England. The name changed over the years to GT500 due to many improvements, but it was purely the sharp price and good reliability that kept the GT in production until 1977.
The Water Buffalo was introduced in 1971 in America and the Kettle in Britain – both the same GT750 bike – an initial foray into the superbike market. The GT750 wasn’t a very impressive machine and couldn’t match the other bikes in the market at the time. Once again, production kept going based on the demand for good price and reliability.
In 1976 Suzuki introduced the first GS750, which was an immediate hit in a very competitive market area. The GS 750 managed to out perform all rivals at the time and was the start of a very popular GS line for the coming years.
Most bikes produced around the middle of the 1970s had enough power, but lacked a steady frame. The introduction of the Suzuki GS1000 in 1978 changed this once and for all. The GS outperformed every other bike in it’s category and had a frame to match the power. The only bad thing that could be said about the very successful GS1000 was the it didn’t have the best look.
The GS1000 was redesigned and new models based on the same original success bike were introduced. The GSX1000 in 1980 and the GSX1100S Katana in 1982. The later bike was a huge success due to it powerful performance, funky style, low weight, and good price point.
Suzuki pulled a stunt within the motorcycle market by introducing the GSX-R750 – a direct copy of their formula race bike except that the GSX was road legal. It turned the supersport motorcycle market upside down and dominated the way superbikes would look into the future.
The GSX-R750 was super fast, which wasn’t hard to understand since there were hardly any changes to its race track design. The bike was a huge success both on the street and the race track. In 1986 the GSX-R1100 was also added to the line.
The GSX style and line didn’t change much over all the years with improvements being made to the bike. A small fluke in design made Suzuki lose its performance lead with the GSX-R1100. However, the GSX-R750 has remained a hit up until today.
In 1999 Suzuki introduced the GSX-1300R (Hayabusa), perhaps still hurt by losing the performance edge with the GSX-R1100 redesign. This sent the Honda Blackbird packing and became the world’s fastest production bike at a whopping 190 mph (307 km/h).
In 2001 Suzuki introduced an upgrade GSX-R750 engine and created the GSX-R1000 (998cc) – a super bike with outstanding performance. In 2003 the GSX-R1000 was restyled, but still kept its position as a super class bike.