The release of the 1969 Honda CB750 Four, a motorcycle capable of a 200km/h+ top speed, had the Japanese National Police Agency biting their nails. They were worried about the potential of riders travelling at excessive speeds on their highways; putting themselves and other motorists at risk. To avoid this from happening they appealed to the big Japanese manufacturers to limit the power and capacity of their motorcycles for the local market. This resulted in the creation of the ‘Nanahan’ or Heavy Motorcycle category. Nanahan translates literally to ‘seven and a half’ which relates to the 750cc capacity limit that manufacturers agreed to impose along with a 100hp power restriction.
As a result of Nanahan, Japanese riders missed out on all of the awesome litre bikes released during the early ’70s and right up to 1988 when the capacity limitation ceased. As you can imagine there were many Japanese riders who found the Heavy Motorcycle restriction extremely frustrating; especially those who were fans of two-wheeled motorsports. If you were a diehard fan of Suzuki Motorcycles during that time, it meant that you missed out on legendary litre bikes like the GS1000E, GSX1100S Katana and the early eighties GSXR1100.
In the early 2000s, Suzuki’s designers decided to create a motorcycle that would appeal to those who lusted after the iconic litre bikes they were so cruelly denied. So they created the Suzuki GS1200SS.
To westerners, the Suzuki GS1200SS is somewhat of an enigma because it was available only in Japan. It was the final model in the long-running GS series that began in 1976 with the GS750. Available for 2 short years ( 2001/2002) it came in 3 colour variants of red/black or blue/white race replica livery or a sinister-looking murdered-out all-black scheme.
The GS1200SS bodywork oozed retro endurance racing style. Up front was a pair of twin headlamps recessed into a shapely half fairing. In the back was a huge endurance-styled tail that could be switched from a single seater thanks to a removable cowl. Suzuki also used a tubular frame which added to the bike’s convincing retro aesthetic. The GS1200SS wasn’t all retro though. Beneath all that stylised bodywork was a thoroughly modern machine. The engine benefitted from Suzuki’s latest SACHS cooling system, the chassis was stiff and the brake and suspension package was more than capable of managing what the engine put out.
Nestled inside the tubular chassis was an air and oil-cooled 1156cc inline 4 borrowed from the GSF1200 Bandit. When Suzuki released the GS1200SS the Nanahan capacity limitation had been dropped, but the power limit was still in effect. This meant that power was suppressed to 100hp – but with a dry weight of 209kg, the GS1200SS made very good use of it.
One benefit of the GS1200SS being built for the Japanese market is that it didn’t take long for tuners to start releasing aftermarket upgrades. Due to the engine’s passive tuning and its responsiveness to modification big power gains weren’t hard to achieve. In the right hands, the factory power figure of 100hp could be easily increased to 120hp at the rear wheel. One such workshop that knows its way around the Suzuki GS1200SS platform is Yokohama’s Bagus Motorcycles. The GS you see here was built for a customer by the name of Takano who wanted a fresh look for his bike along with some significant power gains.
Bagus is the Indonesian word for ‘best’ and judging by the workshop’s effort with this resto-mod project it’s a fitting title.
To unleash the true potential of the GS1200SS inline-four, Bagus went all out with the engine upgrades. Internally this engine has had a capacity increase up to 1215cc and the cylinders are fitted with GSX1300R Hayabusa pistons. Since they were no longer up to the task the stock carbs have been swapped for FCR flat slide 39mm carbs which inhale via wide-mouthed velocity stacks. Completing the new arrangement is a set of Striker stainless steel 4-into-1 headers feeding a custom-made Bagus Motorcycles titanium muffler.
To modernise the 20-year-old Suzuki Bagus went to town with the handling upgrades. The bike’s suspension now consists of premium Öhlins components and the brakes are all Brembo. Brembo also supplied the fluid reservoirs and master cylinders and unsprung weight has been reduced with the fitment of matching diameter, 17-inch Gale Speed Type R rims wrapped in Bridgestone Battlax sport touring rubber.
In comparison, the bodywork of this GS1200SS remains mostly stock with only minor tweaks at the owner’s request. The 80s-styled factory mirrors for instance have been swapped for sleeker alternatives. The chunky turn signals are gone too, replaced by understated black lensed units. And the smooth factory seat has been replaced by a more stylised tuck and roll saddle. Rounding out the changes is a cover over one of the headlamps giving the front end a unique asymmetrical appearance.
To finish things off the Bagus GS1200SS bodywork has been treated to a fresh coat of black with ornate gold pinstriping, the engine repainted gunmetal grey and any unsightly oil lines sheathed in a black braid.
Eighties styling has definitely seen a resurgence in the custom motorcycle scene of late. To me, this Suzuki GS1200SS conjures up visions of the Smokey and the Bandit Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. It’s wild, unhinged and outrageous and enough to put a smile on any 40-something-year-old motorcycle fan’s dial. [via]