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Spiros Pendedekas
147 articles

Tamiya 1/12 Suzuki GSX1100S Katana

February 24, 2023 · in Automotive · · 30 · 582

Back in the late 70's, concerned that the public was growing tired of generic Japanese designs, 's Germany branch delegated Target Designs Company to come up with an innovative design that would reflect those times futuristic trends.

Jan Fellstrom, Hans-Georg Kasten and Hans Muth (a trio previously working for BMW designs) were the main creative forces behind the design. The rest is history.

The emerging was first presented in prototype form at the Cologne show in 1979 and, despite the fact that the frame and engine remained unchanged from the standard GSX1100, the edgy design made quite a splash.

Quickly attaining a “love or hate” reputation (mostly towards “love”), Suzuki dared to put the bike into production with minimal changes!

Designating it as the "World's Fastest Motorcycle", it was the first Japanese model with a frame-mounted fairing, as well as the first with proper racing clip-on bars.

With its bold transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 16 valve 1100cc unit, easily pumping out more than 100hp, the aerodynamic Katana could solidly flirt with the 140mph region.

Not selling as well as Suzuki had hoped, with its styling becoming something of a marmite situation, it remained in production for the majority of markets only until the end of 1981, with a few Mark II 1100 Katanas being produced primarily for the European market the following years.

The original model was revived in 1990, in order to commemorate Suzuki's 70th anniversary, with later versions also remanufactured, primarily for the Japanese market, a practice that was maintained until 2001.

Despite the fact that its sales never fulfilled expectations, the Katana is a prime example of an advanced stylistic design that a colossal manufacturer dared to put into production.

In fact, Suzuki was the first Japanese manufacturer to design something different, without being constrained by preconceived notions. That's why the Katana, apart from becoming a legend, made a huge impact on modern motorcycle designs and it is because of this that Suzuki has to be praised for producing such a wonderful machine.

This is the classic yet very good kit.

The build was through our very successful , which was created after greatly inspired by the ideas of George Williams @chinesegeorge. The fact that George, apart from a fellow modeler, is a good friend, is a blessing.

Should you wish to read the full build review, you may do so by visiting my beloved site Modelingmadness:

Happy Modelling!
Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

30 responses

  1. Back in the days of this bike, I was in the middle of motorcycle mania, read every mag there was (including "Easyriders") and ended up with a 1980 Honda CB650 Custom. Then came a succession of Harleys as my tastes tended more to retro. Thought the Katana was UG-LEE back then first saw it and said WTF. Nowadays I can appreciate the exotic (seems so tame now) styling, Susuki did take a chance.
    That is a very fine build.

  2. Great addition to bike week! Nice job, Spiros

  3. Excellent result, Spiros @fiveten
    A futuristic back at that time but it became a classic.
    Had a GSX750EF myself and it was a great bike to drive.
    Your build clearly shows the lines that had made it immortal.

  4. @fiveten - Fantastic build Spiros. I really enjoy the detailed writeup. Very cool to learn the history and see the first Katana. Thanks!

  5. Spiros, @fiveten you have taken me back to my early childhood with this build. I remember when the Katana was the “latest and greatest” and I was an awestruck young boy, impressed by anyone who rode a motorcycle.
    Beautiful job on this my friend, as is always the case with your work.

  6. This is an incredibly clean build! Even though i don’t know anything about bikes but this one sure looks great!

  7. Are you sure this not 1/1 scale? I bet it's park outside somewhere. Great looking bike Spiros.

  8. Hey, Spiros, my friend, this came out looking great, it was, indeed, an inspiring design that turned many heads. Thank you very much for your kind comments, iModeler wouldn’t be quite the same without your valuable input. I wonder how many people here understood the “Marmite” reference, I love it by the way.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  9. Spiros, looks like your in the "Gold" category with this build. A smart, tight, build that brings the best out in the kit.

    Smashed the like button.

    Two thumbs up.

  10. So you do motorcycles as well, and with your customary skill! Well done, nice looking bike, Spiros. I have 2 or 3 in my collection, done years ago, none as nice as this one.

  11. Great job Spiros! The Katana was (as others have said) ahead of it's time.

  12. Beautiful, just beautiful Spiros @fiveten! Great modeling skill on display here sir, kudos to you! And a superb article all around.

    Once in the late '70s, while out on my SR500, riding with a friend on his brother's 1100 Suzuki, he suggested we swap bikes for a while. Oh my. 😳 Going from that single 500 to that monstrous four was eye-opening to say the least. 😉 That Suzuki's power came on like one was dialing up a rheostat or something, incredibly "turbine-like". I'm glad I had a firm grip on the bars! 😁

  13. Great build and thanks for the cycle's history. That was very interesting.

  14. Spiros Pendedekas (@fiveten)

    Your Suzuki looks wonderful ! I almost missed this one. It just about slipped under my radar. I especially like how you have done the paint work. It looks very authentic. QC1 and QC2 are keeping you on track. 😉

    I definitely checked the "like" button.

    Your article was a good read too. I learned some stuff from it. Thanks !

  15. Motorcycle heaven. Liking your format and equally, great build.

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