Quarter Dose: Mr Martini Suzuki GSX-R 1100

The quickest, baddest production big-bore sportbike you can buy.

That’s what Motorcyclist Magazine had to say about the GSX-R 1100 when it debuted in ’86. Suzuki with the help of their lead engineer Etsuo Yokouchi had already stunned the motorcycling world with the high-revving, fast-turning GSX-R 750, but the 1100 was a whole ‘nother kind of beast.

In a nutshell, the GSX-R 1100 was a beefed-up 750. It had beefier wheels, a beefier (yet lighter) alloy box-section frame, and considerably beefier performance. The bike’s 128bhp 1052cc powerplant could propel it from 0 to 100 km/h in a touch over 3 seconds and would keep on accelerating all the way up to 249km/h. The 1100 Gixxer was the world’s first hyperbike and every 1980s boy racer’s wet dream.

Such was the success of the GSX-R 1100 that Suzuki produced them right through until 1998. During that time the Gixxer went through several revisions. There were some rocky patches along the way but with the release of the M model in 1991 they’d ironed out the bugs. The handling was well-honed and the engine had been bumped up to 1127cc to deliver 143hp and a 269km/h top speed.

One thing that didn’t change much throughout the GSX-R 1100 dynasty was its styling. Often referred to as the Slabside, the GSX-R had large rectangular-shaped panels flanking the engine. Similar to endurance racing motorcycles its nose was squared off and fitted with twin headlights and the tail was deliberately wide and low to help disguise an ugly subframe and exhaust hanger.

From the outside this heavily modified ’91 GSX-R 1100 has very little in common with Suzuki’s original design. Now dressed in cafe racer-inspired attire it’s the work of Italy’s eccentric custom motorcycle builder, Mr Martini.

“This bike arrived at our workshop already highly modified and definitely ugly,” says workshop frontman Nicolai Martini. “The idea behind the project was to create a look that highly contrasted with the original Endurance-style configuration.”

Nicknamed ‘Quarter Dose’ Nicolai’s goal was to commemorate 1960s cafe racer style. The result is a stark contrast to Suzuki’s chunky 1980s design and despite the wide inline-four and boxed aluminum frame, he’s somehow pulled it off.

In keeping with his cafe racer theme, Nicolai’s aim was to convert the fully faired Suzuki to a naked racer. This meant exposing the entire box alloy frame. Although chunky, the front half of the iconic boxed alloy frame is beautiful in its own way, but the subframe is downright ugly. To remedy this Nicolai promptly cut it off and removed any evidence of its existence.

Replacing the boxed alloy subframe is a tubular steel alternative that’s much easier on the eye. Since welding steel to alloy wasn’t an option, the subframe uses a bolt-on design. Along with establishing a level cafe-style bone line, the new subframe created a space to stash any misplaced electrical components that were exposed after the Gixxer’s disrobing.

For the bodywork, Nicolai opted to retain the stock fuel tank because its sleek long profile works well with the retro cafe theme. Sitting on the new subframe is a wasps tail FRP cowl. Built into the tail is a retro-styled tail light and there’s a tuck-and-roll leather seat by Tommi Casaro with a tall kick at the rear to hold the rider firmly in place.

At the pointy end of the bike sits a Ducati-styled classic fairing that’s been trimmed down to bikini proportions. It’s held in place by custom-made aluminium brackets that utilise existing fixing points on the bike. It’s a similar setup to what Martini used on his Triumph TT Sprint Racer with one major difference. Since this bike is built for the street he’s built a headlight into the design. Rather than recessing it into the fairing though he’s left it protruding as a hat tip to the Gixxer’s original endurance styling. For the turn signals, Nicolai went with small LED units which he’s mounted inconspicuously.

Behind the new windscreen sits the Suzuki’s twin gauges which are suspended in a foam bracket as they were from the factory. The switches and controls on the Tomaselli clip-on handlebars are stock too with the exception of a single bar-end mirror.

At the client’s request, the rest of this Suzuki is all original GSX-R 1100 running gear. The project could have easily turned into an all-out resto-mod, but it was decided to keep its performance close to original. This isn’t all bad though because even by today’s standards the 1100 Gixxer is no slouch.  The only modifications made to the engine are to the intake and exhaust where you’ll find hi-flow filters by K&N and a throaty Supertrapp muffler. Modern Metzeler Racetech tires help keep the rubber side down.

To finish things up, Martini hand-brushed the boxed alloy frame and swingarm to make them really pop. The bodywork was handed over to +39Kustom paint shop to receive its new Garda Lake blue and black scheme which is again a hat tip to Suzuki’s classic racing livery.

From an unexpected cafe racer donor, Mr Martini has once again produced a surprising result. I’m not sure if Etsuo Yokouchi would approve, but both my thumbs are raised.