Page last modified: 06/30/14


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DATE: February 20, 2000
QUESTION: Engine work needed? - 1979 GS850GN

Hi, I have a GS850GN 79, which I opened this winter, as it leaked a bit between cylinder and top - I can see from the site that this has been seen before... Despite having run 85.000km, everything looks fine. Questions: Should I change the piston rings and have the cylinder honed while I am there?. How will it react if I only change the rings without honing it?. I also measured the camchain and it is also ok. Should this be changed anyway as a precaution ? (I have decided to change the chain guide and tensioner) brgds. joergen, Denmark

RIDER: joergen olsen

REPLY: Angelos Misiriotis
While you are there you should check:

1. Camchain.

2. Camchain sliders.

3. Cylinder diameter. (if it is over service limit you should rebore and install new, ovesized pistons)

4. Pistons, piston rings and piston bearings. In any case it is better to install new piston rings, othewise you will loose compression.

5. Valve guides.

6. Camshaft bearings.

7. When puting back the head, tight the nuts following rigourosly the manual instructions. Check torque on head nuts after 1000 Km. If you dont do that, you will end up with another oil leak.

If you value your money more then your time, you can try not to install new piston rings. I have done this myself when I was young and careless (and did not have much money). It worked fine, but I would not suggest it to anyone else.

Cheers, Angelos.

DATE: January 29, 2000
QUESTION: Oversized main bearings - 1985 GS750ES

I want to rebuild a motor that has spun a main bearing. I have gone to my dealer looking for oversized bearings and they claim none exist. Is it true that no OS main bearings are commercially available? If not, what should I do?

RIDER: Carl Strong

REPLY: Darren Nottle
I had the same problem when I first got my 80 GSX750, it came with 3 motors all of which had spun bearings. You are correct that original Suzuki OS bearings aren`t available (not in sizes to accomadate crank grinds anyway). I went to a specialist crank grinder who had some experiance in bike cranks, he straightened the best of my cranks, resized my con rods, ground my crank and supplied custom fitted bearing shells for around $130 Australian. Good luck

DATE: December 12, 1999
QUESTION: Valve Clearances - 1982 GS750T

Can you please tell me the Inlet and Exhaust clearances and whether I am going to encounter "shimmed or Locknut" type adjustments? Many Thanks!I believe the bike was a 78/79 manufacture but registered 82 (American Import)

RIDER: Dave Stenson

REPLY: John G. Bloemer
Dave, I had a 1982 GS750tz that I recently parted out (some parts still left). If yours was like mine, a 4 valve per cylinder TSCC engine, it had the locknut type of valve adjustments, i.e., no shims required.  According to the manual I have, the TSCC engine valve clearances, both intake and exhaust, are 0.09-0.13mm (0.004- 0.005 inch) COLD.  Cold means not run for at least 12 hours.  The cylinder that you are adjusting must be in the compression stroke with the "T" mark aligned with the timing pointer under the right crank cover. Good luck.

DATE: December 12, 1999
QUESTION: Is crankshaft welded? - 1982 GS1100E

My bike was manufactured Feb. 1982. How can I tell if it has a welded crank?

RIDER: David S. Corwin

REPLY: Scott Horner
Remove the clutch cover and the clutch hub. You will be able to see the throw just prior to the # 3 rod on the crankshaft. Rotate the motor until you can see where the male end of the prior throw is pressed in (it will be round, roughly 1 1/4"). If there is a semicircle of weld, you are set. Good Luck!

DATE: December 12, 1999
QUESTION: Cam Timing for aftermarket cams - 1982 GS1100EZ

I'm thinking about installing a set of Cam Motion cams in my bike. The grind is a .320ish lift with 295 degrees of duration @ .006 in. of lift. Lobe centers are at 110 degrees.

My main question is this: What are the recommended settings for max torque that will start @ about 3500 rpm? This is for a street bike that will not see any higher than 8500 rpm. Anybody have any experience with these cams or megacycle cams of a similar grind? Thanks for your help!!

RIDER: Chris Marciniak

REPLY: Scott Horner
The Cam Motion cams are identified on the #4 cylinder end of the cam. From the sounds of it, your cam should say CM G2 on it. It is a .330 lift intake and exhaust cam with 240' of duration at .050". The lobe center is 110' with intake event timing 13/53, exhaust 53/13. Although a little noisy, set the valve lash @ .008 (.006-.008 is recommended). With cam timing there is no perfect setting for all motors. If you are looking for low end, try the 110' that they suggest. The .008 lash will also give you a little shot down low. I am a small cam/carb guy, and I have found this particular cam works great with street motors in the 1230cc range. I think you will find your rear tire will need to be replaced at quicker intervals! Good luck!

DATE: November 27, 1999
QUESTION: Possible??? - 1982 1982 GS1100G

I have a 1982 GS1100G frame with a 1981 GS1100 engine in it, I was told by the previous owner that I had 1150 cams in it. He also said because it had those cams that it could handle 11500 rpm shifts is this true? Any info on this motor would be appreciated.

RIDER: Mike Longstreet

REPLY:  Sandra Whitney
If you have a shaft drive model, there is no way 1150 cams will fit. The shaft model engine has an 8 valve head with shims on buckets and the 16 valve 1100/1150's are rocker arm heads.

DATE: November 7, 1999
QUESTION: Smoke, lots of it! - 1979 GS1000s

When I start my bike from cold, it smokes a lot. It starts first time off the button, but people joke about it being a two stroke, or b-b-q! It takes a few seconds for the smoke to start, and it stays that way until it's warmed up. Any suggestions?

I changed the valve seals to try and cure it, the bores looked ok, but there was a bit of play in the valves/guides. If this is the problem, is a second hand head a better option than new valves/guides- and any idea on cost? Or should I start it round the corner, and keep buying oil! It still pulls like a train!

RIDER: Chris Kirk

REPLY: Scott Horner
If you still have a 80/81 cylinder head on your badboy, check the valve cover gasket. Those two years are notorious for leaking at the forward most portion of the cover (cam chain galley). Suzuki somewhat remedied this problem with later models by placing two bolts on either side of the cam chain galley. If you have already been there and done this, check the two front cylinder head bolts that straddle the cam chain galley in side the valve cover. They have an o-ring on them that do fail with time, and when they do, the leak surfaces midway down the exhaust ports. Good Luck!

DATE: November 7, 1999
QUESTION: Is crank matched to cases? - 1986 GS1150E

I just bought my 86 GS1150E, and the guy who sold it to me mentioned that the crank can not be replaced due to the fact that the cases are machined to match the crank, or vice versa. He didn't get very specific. I've seen messages here that mention crank replacement, so I'm curious as to just what he was talking about. Thanks.

RIDER: John Broderick

REPLY: Scott Horner
There is no problem swapping crankshafts in the GS 1100/1150's. The only "mated" parts that are line bored together are the cases (crank journals and tranny) and the cam journals and caps in the cylinder head. Best of luck with that badboy.

DATE: September 18, 1999
QUESTION: Intermittent Oil light - 1980 GS1100ET

I recently purchased a 1980 GS1100ET with 9500 miles on it and a custom paint job (gray with black flames). It has 4 K&N filters, a stage 3 DynoJet kit and a Vance and Hines Supersport Pipe. I believe the rest of the bike is stock. It's a real head turner - I should send in a picture once the seat is re-upholstered.

The problem I am having is with the oil light. As the engine idles down (about 1200 RPM) when it is hot, say after an extended highway run, the oil light will flicker on and off. The rest of the dash panel will also flicker on and off with the oil light. I can also make the oil light come on when I accelerate hard. The light will never come on at speeds over 1500 RPM except for under hard acceleration (read full throttle from a rolling start or a dead stop). The engine seems real sound and I don't hear any abnormal noise. There is the "GS cam knock" that I have heard of, but nothing else. I have noticed that the V&H pipe is actually touching the bottom of the oil pan in a few places. Could this be the cause of my low oil pressure - the oil is getting overheated in the pan by the pipe? The Clymer manual gives a specification of 1.5 - 7.5 PSI at 3000 RPM. Could I be at the low end of this range and be having problems at low RPM's? I am currently running Castrol GTX 20W50. Would I be better off to go to Mobil 1? I did have a CB750 slip a clutch after switching to synthetic. Is this a problem with a GS1100ET? Thanks for your help.

RIDER: Dave Bock

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Because the 1100 is a hot running engine my guess is that the heat is causing viscosity breakdown with the oil.  Try running motorcycle oil in the bike and see if the problem goes away.  Regular car oil is no good in a GS1100, especially if you aren't running with an oil cooler installed.  And don't use a synthetic!  You have a friction clutch in the bike that needs regular oil.

DATE: September 18, 1999
QUESTION: Sitting bike blows oil out the breather - 1985 GS1150EF

I looked at a GS1150 today, a grand old road burner with the BIG ENGINE!!!! It does need some work but every thing looks straight forward except for one thing. It had been sitting for three years so to get it started I added fuel, removed the filter, squirted starter fluid down the inlet of the air box, flipped on the choke and laid on the starter. It finally started and was a little rough, barely idling which was expected. What surprised me though was that after a minute or so, oil started to flow (splash) out of the airbox mouth, coming from the breather line that attaches to the top of the cylinder head. 

Is an internal valve in the head stuck causing this overflow? The oil was also very thin. Was it too thin for the mesh breather to separate? Could it have been too high of an oil level? I expected rough running and no idle, but what else besides carbs getting gummed up could cause problems with a sitting motor? 

RIDER: Craig Egan

REPLY: Scott Horner
From my experience, you more than likely have fuel in the oil. This is usually from faulty float needles or petcock. A quick look at the oil level should tell you the story. Change the oil and filter, and check the carbs. With the quality of the fuel they now give us, and the amount of time the bike sat, I guarantee the carbs need a good cleaning. Good Luck!

DATE: September 18, 1999
QUESTION: Pistons questions - 1978 GS750/1000

I have a 1878 Gs1000 motor that needs new rings. I have heard that I can install stock 1100 pistons as a big bore kit. I would like to know if anyone has done this and what model the 1100 pistons came from. I have also found a 2 valve head marked (in felt)GS1100 in a salvage shop, this head has larger valves than my stock 1000 head and also has 36 mm inlet and exhaust manifolds (my stock is around 28mm I can't remember exactly ). I have heard that a 2 valve 1100 shaft drive touring model was offered, could this be the head from a shafty. Does any one have any suggestions or thoughts on the above ramblings? ( I found the engine and the head in Canada if that rings any bells) thanks in advance.

RIDER: Jordan Rodier

REPLY:  Joe Lanfrankie
A year ago I would have suggested a Wiseco piston kit instead of Suzuki stock items, but my Wiseco equipped bike is so picky about fuel due to high compression that using stock 1100 items is an interesting idea. You will need to find the 1100 bore diameter (easy, look it up) to get the cylinders bored correctly. The harder to obtain dimensions that must be matched are the piston pin diameter and the distance from the piston pin to the top face of the piston. Any big bore gasket set should work, or possibly the 2 valve 1100 stock items.

The head might not bolt onto the stock bores because the larger valves could whack the edge of the bore as it opens. If you open it out to the 1100 diameter this should be no problem. A friend has one of these bikes (for a photo see labeled "Old Faithful") and as far as I can tell the upper ends are externally identical. Does the salvage shop have the rest of the motor? One of the pistons would be most useful while you figure out if it will work.

This has the potential to either work well or be a disaster, depending on how you attend to the details. If you choose to pursue this please let us know how it works out.

DATE: September 8, 1999
QUESTION: Block removal problems - 1977 GS750?

Are there any special tricks to removing the cylinder block? I have removed the cylinder head and cannot remove the block. I have beat the tar out of it with a rubber mallet and it still won't budge. I noticed that two of the four studs (between cylinders 2&3) that screw into the lower casing are rusted from about halfway, down to the case. 

Could this have seized the head not allowing me to remove it? I tried slipping a screw driver between the head and case in an attempt to separate them but there just wasn't enough space. Any suggestions?

RIDER: Joe Zysek

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
Sounds like you've missed a bolt. Have a look at the front of the block for one M6 bolt which is upside down, right in the centre.

DATE: September 8, 1999
QUESTION: Will the top end from a GS750 or GS850 fit on my 1983GS550E?

I am looking for considerable more power from my cycle. I was looking at several larger bikes that would have more stock power to them than mine but they would only serve to triple or more my existing insurance rates. Thus I am looking into upgrading the one I have so I can stay at a reasonable rate. Ideas so far are fitting a 750 top end on, with a basic port job which I believe I am capable of along with filter pods and possibly smoothbores. Of course, it would be of much help if I new that the 750 top end would bolt onto the 550 bottom end

RIDER: Robert Kay

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
Short answer is no. Sorry!  850 goes onto 750, but the only thing you will get onto a 550 bottom end is a 550 top end.

DATE: November 1, 1998
QUESTION: Is knocking noise normal? - 1982 GS1100G

I have a 1982 GS1100G that exhibits a "knocking" noise in the top end at speeds above 50mph. If it were a 1939 Plymouth (I had one), I would swear it was a connecting rod. The local Suzuki dealer advises it was a common problem with this engine and the noise is made by the cam(s) moving back and forth on the shaft. He thought there used to be a shim set available to correct the problem but couldn't find one in the fiche. Are you or any of the other editors familiar with this problem and a remedy? I love the bike and am determined to keep it, even if it means installing new cams (assuming they are available).

RIDER: Tom Sayles

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
All large GS engines when warm but not hot produce a clanking / knocking noise which accentuates according to engine wear.

This is known as cam end float and is as your dealer describes, the cams are simply moving about due to low tolerance factory machining of the plain bearing shells holding the cams down.

This can be cured by around 500 ($1000??) of precision machining, but all that does is cure the noise which is benign anyway.

If it is a real major knock, then check the tightness of the bolts holding the cam bearing shells down - one may be loose or have have sheared off - on my '81 GS 850 this once happened with TWO shearing off, the knocking you wouldn't believe but I rode home from a rally with it, 50 miles, with no ill effects on the cams on stripdown.
  Bill Patten
If you do if fact have a G model, ( 2 valves per cylinder as compared to a E model with 4 valves per cylinder ) find another dealer. The G model has no rocker arms. it has a shim over bucket cam design. If the knock is intermittent and only occurs at idle, which I understand is common, I wouldn't worry about it.
  Tom Glidewell, Jr.
You stated in an answer to Tom Sayles dated 11/18/98, regarding low RPM top end engine knock (see that the problem is cam end float and that it can be cured with some fairly expensive machining, perhaps costing as much as $1,000.

I have a 1979 GS850 which also has the problem. It may be benign, but it is irritating as hell! The clanking at times is very loud and I can even feel it in the handlebars. It does seem to be coming from the exhaust cam area near cylinder 1 and 2.

My question is this: Assuming it is cam end float, what part of the cam is hitting what part of the head? What machining is done to cure the problem?

I've lived with this problem for at least 15 years and I can confirm that the noise never occurs when the engine is full cold or full hot--only when it's somewhere in between. So obviously it's expansion related!

Before I had ever seen the GS Resources web site, I had decided that the noise was either camshaft related or perhaps a wrist pin knock. I thought that perhaps I'd cracked a piston pin boss. The piston would get hot and expand long before the wrist pin would, causing excess clearance between the wrist pin and the piston with the resulting knock until the temperature of the wrist pin rose enough to close up the clearance. Any comment on this scenario?

I think I'd feel more comfortable with the cam end float diagnosis, but what evidence is there that end float is really the problem? Also, how is it cured by machining the cam bearings?

Many thanks for any answers you can provide.

DATE: September 6, 1999
QUESTION: Trashed engine - 1980 GS450S

I bought a 1980 gs450s from a family member for $50.00 The bike hadn't been ridden for at lease seven years before I bought it. I knew that he thought the engine was locked up, but I decided to take a risk on it. When I got the engine out and disassembled it, I discovered that one of the cam gear bolds had broken off and fell in the timing chain. Which in turn jumped the timing and made the valves slam into the pistons. Now I have no experience working on motorcycle engines. I've tried to reset the timing chain, but I can't seem to get it right. My question is what do I need to have replaced, or fixed. and how much do you think it will cost me to have a running engine? Thank you for your time and help

RIDER: Christopher David Harris

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Not worth it.  Chances are you'll have to replace the pistons and valve and they aren't cheap.  They combined with a gasket kit are probable going to cost more than the bike is worth.  You'll also need special tools like torque wrenches, feeler gauges and a service manual.

DATE: August 21, 1999
QUESTION: Whirring noise - 1985 GS1100E

My problem is I have a loud whirring noise in my engine. It runs perfect but started making this noise about 300 miles after installing new clutch plates and a detent spring for crisper shifts. Clutch is working perfectly. I've taken the entire clutch basket to a local dealer and their head mechanic says it's fine. There are no knocks or any other noises but I am getting a small amount of what I believe are aluminum shavings under the clutch. I've pulled the rotor assembly and starter clutch on the other side to make sure the 3 Allen head bolts on the back of the starter clutch have not come loose, but now I'm at a stand still. The bike has 19k miles on it and I ride it hard but completely service it every 1,200 miles or so. I would appreciate any thoughts.

RIDER: Matt Burgess

REPLY:  Jan Burke
Are you sure you have put all the bolts from the clutch cover back in their old places? Recently I discovered that too long a screw in the hole at 3 o'clock, next to the crankshaft, can scrape material off the outermost clutch disk. I also had lots of aluminum shavings in my GS 1000's oil sieve and am now very comforted, for I think I have found the reason. I hope your case is the same, because it is extremely easy to fix. Only, I don't know why it started only after 300 miles. 

Perhaps you can put the bike on the side stand and let the engine run for a short time (watch the oil pressure indicator!) with open clutch cover and see what the clutch is doing? (Put off bracelets, tie your hair, etc.) Good luck; let me know if you solve your problem.

DATE: August 21, 1999
QUESTION: Engine rattle - GS1000

I have a GS 1000 and just recently put the 100.000th km on it (HONK! CHEERS!); it runs quite fine still, but there is one thing I am a bit anxious about: At very low revs (1000 rpm or so) the engine rattles a lot, which disappears instantly as the revs rise; so I have adjusted the idle rpm to 1500 now. Does anyone out there know what that is? Bearings, pistons, sudden death in sight? Please drop me a note.

RIDER: Jan Burke

REPLY: Joe Amidon
This sounds like cam chain noise. My GS850G used to rattle intermittently at idle, but never at higher speeds. When I replaced the head gasket and did some valve work, it went away! The cam chain seemed fine and tight. I did take the tensioner apart at the same time, and cleaned it up. Maybe it was a little sticky. I don't think it's necessarily anything to worry about if you take the cam covers off and everything seems nice and tight and unworn. You may need a new chain, however at 100,000.
Scott Horner
Of all the GS 1000's I have dealt with, the rattle is the clutch basket. Remove the clutch hub from the bike and if it rattles like a maraca, that is your culprit. If not, take a look at your cam chain, that would be the next to go. If you really need to satisfy your curiosity, the bike may be run for a very short period of time (one minute) without the clutch hub in place. Without the hub in place the oil pump will not be driven. If the bike runs without making the noise, there you go. Good Luck!
Zack Schultz
The older big GS's have a characteristic (not necessarily a problem) whereas the cams move side to side causing a rattle. And it usually goes away with RPM's. Just another thought.
Jan Burke
Concerning my question about the GS 1000 engine rattle from April 23, 1999, I received a lot of answers and want to respond as follows:

The Remote Diagnosis Award goes to Scott Horner (and to many others; I really received a lot of suggestions - thank you all!!!). By simply pulling the clutch lever one can make the noise disappear. When recently the clutch started slipping at high revs, I disassembled it completely to look after its general condition, besides replacing the disks and the pressure springs. Indeed I found that the three weaker springs in the basket are worn and rattle around; also, the stronger ones must have lost strength, or is it normal that the springs allow me to rotate the back and front part of the basket against each other by hand?? The rivets appear to be in good shape though (as they should, since according to the previous owner, the basket has now only 30,000 km on it). The Suzuki manual's advice reads quite funny: "Due to the strong engine, the clutch is subjected to extreme loads. Check the condition of the basket and replace if too badly worn." Why then do they install a part that they know does not last long? I re-fitted the basket without doing anything about it and will check it every year or so.

This, however, brings me to another question about the GS 1000 drive train: The steel spline of the driven shaft has already started eating its way through the aluminum spline of the clutch basket sitting on it; currently it is less than 1 mm, but I expect it to get worse at increasing rate. (No, I'm NOT doing any wheelies, hardly ever squeeze the full 90 hp out of the engine - even here in Germany, we have few Porsches with real grunt -, and am used to releasing the clutch gently.) Yet even though I have fastened the basket's nut with the maximum torque of 70 Nm, I do not think this stops the hub from being kicked back and forth on the shaft, especially with those worn damper springs. (Via the primary gear ratio, the engine should hammer the clutch with some 160 Nm of torque, right?) One not-so-fine day the engine will destroy that basket and spin freely without the bike moving (or before, there will be unpleasant jerking from the drive train despite correct chain tension). In the "Drive train" section I read about fixes for that: baskets with steel insert, H.D. (is that Heavy Duty xor Harley Davidson?) back plates, etc. I had thought of having a steel insert made and fitted by an expert. Or maybe getting a racing clutch somewhere? Any other suggestions (and note that I live in Germany)? What is APE and Falicon? Offers welcome. Thank you in advance.

DATE: August 21, 1999
QUESTION: Way low compression, for no good reason - 1979 GS750E

I'm stumped. I've had this GS since 1987, and she's always been a rock solid performer. About 2 years ago I bought a VS1400 and took Suzi down (the GS off of the road) to rebuild brakes, replace stem bearings and replace the exhaust. Domestic problems forced me to move 3 times in the past 2 years, but I'll make this short. The brakes were no problem. The stem bearing s were no problem. #3 outer header bolt snapped when I was removing the headers, and Suzi sat for at least 9 months before I had the chance to do anything about that. I ended up removing the engine, draining the oil, and rolling the mill upside down on its head and back of the case. Then I was able to get at the broken bolt, but I had to get a Timecert (sp?) put in #3 outer bolt bore. I got the mill back in and made sure that the wiring was square. Adjusted the clutch too. Rejetted for altitude while I was at it. The engine turns over but sounds like there is NO compression. Obviously, Suzi won't start. Cold/dry comp test give 1-4 as 15, 25, 75, 30. Haven't done cold/wet yet. 4 years ago the same cold/dry gave 1-4 as 130, 125, 130, 135. She was running fine, albeit way rich, 2 years ago. Do I have carbon seized rings? Would sitting for 2 years cause rusted rings? I'm in CO, BTW. Cams turn and valves operate within spec. Found rust on the intake lobes, tho. I've applied penetrating oil to all the bores, haven't checked it in 4 days. Also, the kick lever isn't engaging. Too tight on the clutch adjust? BTW, the bike was moved from MD to CO in 1996, hence the rejet. What do any of you think? I love Suzi, won't let her go.

RIDER: Eric Hess

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Sounds like you got rust in the cylinders and you ripped the rings apart when you turned over the motor.  If you have a way to see in the cylinders (boroscope), you'll probably see rust on the cylinder walls.  Sounds like the motor needs to be torn down.

You might want to loosen up the clutch cable adjustment too.

DATE: August 21, 1999
QUESTION: Oil temperature - 1982 GS1100E

What's the normal operating oil temp? I just got a GS1100E and it cruises with a temp of around 250, that seems high to me. Has anyone fit an oil cooler? If so how much of a temperature drop was there? 

RIDER: Bill Patten

REPLY: Frank Perreault
GS1100's run hotter than a firecracker!  You need an oil cooler.  The problem is finding one for a bike that old.  Most people that I've talked to are now getting them out of swap meets and stuff.  You can try some vendors on our Links page or try your local bike dealer.  

I can't tell you how much it drops the temp but I can tell you that I don't break down the oil anymore due to heat.
REPLY: WildBill
250 deg is about what my 1100 runs when running hard 80+ in hot weather 80+ with and without the oil cooler installed. Normal riding is about 210 deg. I had to remove my cooler to install a fairing mount (sorry it's sold). It was a large Derale copper with stainless lines, the best you could buy in the 80's. When I pulled it off I thought I'd see increased temps, nope, samey same. One theory I have is that the benefit the cooler provided was offset by the airflow it blocked off to the head? 

Another theory is that the new fairing is providing more air to the engine. These things run hot and part of it is the lean jetting. Mine carburates beautifully stock and all my attempts to richen it end up sending me back to the stock jets. The plugs say lean but the bike runs spot on, so I settled for a cold plugs (9's) and one size bigger on the mains (112.5's) and synthetic oil (happier in the heat IMHO). If there's a rpm/speed/throttle setting that you notice the temp gauge really start to climb you might try to richen that area up with a jet change. Mine was in the main range, which on these bikes is really flyin', 3-4 main sizes up probably would work but it's not often I cruise at 100+ so I compromised at one size up because I also enjoy getting 200 mile out of a tank. Shimming the needles a hair proved to be too much and 1 size bigger pilots made the bottom end blubbery and load up at long idles.
REPLY:  Bill Patten
I moved the oil temp sensor to the sump drain plug ( drill and tap with a 1/8 npt tap) and plugged the original hole with a 1/8 pipe plug. oil temp now shows 190 +/- 10 degrees at any speed. at stoplights the temp rises of course but drops again as soon as I take off.

DATE: August 8, 1999
QUESTION: Oversized cylinder bore from Suzuki? - 1981 GS1100ET

I have bought an 83' motor for my 81 GS1100 that apparently has been built. As I was checking out the cylinder stamp (what size cm3) it says 1135 cm3. On my old motor it says 1075 cm3. Did Suzuki make a larger set of cylinders for these bikes.

RIDER: Rob O'Halloran

REPLY: Scott Horner
What you have is a GS 1150 cylinder. Assuming that the black engine you have is a 83 1100, not a 1150, here are my thoughts. You cannot run the stock 1150 pistons without the 1150 crank (more specifically, the 1150 has a 20mm piston pin, the 1100 18mm). I use the 1150 blocks on 1100 motors if I am running a high compression 1168cc, or a 1198cc piston kit. The 1168 is the largest bore the stock GS 1100 sleeves can handle. 

Here are a few numbers if you pop the head off in the future. 1168cc kit 75mm/2.953", 1198cc 76mm/2.992". From most piston manufacturers, a flat top piston will be 10.25-10.50:1, anything with a dome will be 13.5:1 compression ratio. Good luck!

DATE: July 31, 1999
QUESTION: Engine noise - 1979 GS850G

The engine of my -79 GS850 sometimes makes a hard metallic kind of knocking sound while idling. If I raise the engine revolutions to approx. 1300 rpm the sound is gone. It seems to have its origins somewhere in the region of the exhaust valves/camshaft. I've changed the oil and the valve clearances are within their limits. Could it be that the timing chain is a bit worn, or the wrong tension? Is it possible to readjust the tensioner? I've thought about raising the idle to 1300 rpm just to get rid of the noise, that, however, doesn't seem as a solution of the problem at hand. Just a mere way of keeping my heartbeats at a normal rate. Spring is coming to our cold country (Sweden) so I'm very eager to here from you pros. Hope you don't find my spelling too awkward. I'd like to post a thanks in advance !! Keep on riding!!

RIDER: Jonas Andersson

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
The noise you describe is caused by imprecise machining at Suzuki when built and is called cam end float. All big GS's (8 valve) do this when warm but not hot and it is entirely harmless. ride and enjoy!
Gary Cowling
I get a similar noise from the cam/ valve area on my 1979 GS425. A dealer told me that it was due to the buckets/shims turning. However, I think cam end float is much more realistic. If it makes you feel any better, my old bike has made the same (intermittent) metallic noise from this problem for the 12 years that I have owned/thrashed it; i.e. from 22k to current 60k miles. It seems to suffer no ill effects, and has not got any worse.

DATE: July 31, 1999
QUESTION: Is a warped valve cover possible? - 1980 GS1100E

My question is similar to others but goes farther. I bought a 1980 gs1100e off the original owner w/ 20,000 miles. The bike had never had a valve job and had original head gasket. The valves were done by a Suzuki shop w/ new gasket installed. About 400 miles of riding and the gasket worked its way out in the center of the motor above tachometer cable. Oil started leaking badly. 

Suzuki warranted the job and a new gasket was installed. About 400 miles later, same problem, exact same location. No other gasket leaks. Dealer said two things. First off that an additional bolt was added to later models in this locale to hold in gasket, secondly my head cover H-cover they called it was warped. 

I removed an oil cooler which was always on the bike and it was set up w/ saddlebag, windjammer, and hard case, by older original owner. The cooler kept it cool he did not beat on bike, in perfect shape, original chain not even stretched badly. I've never had the engine to redline and don't see how it could be a warped cover. Sorry for the length but I really need a good opinion before I give them money to replace cover. Are they doing it wrong or could they be telling me the truth. I love the bike and just want it to be right. It now has 22,000 miles.

RIDER: Pat Richardson

REPLY: Joe Amidon
Sure it can be warped, though I would think a bit of silicone sealant with the valve cover gasket would fix things up. You can true a warped cover by grinding it flat on a sheet of glass on a flat surface with valve grinding compound. Or you could buy yourself a valve cover from a salvage yard. A new one would be out of the question.

DATE: July 31, 1999
QUESTION: Oil leak - Engine 1979 GS850GN

I noticed leak on cylinder gasket (the lowest one) and I believe that opening the engine and changing all needed gaskets would result oil consumption because of spin of piston gaskets when opened. I also plan a long holiday trip and leakage occurs only when oil level is close to F. When level is in the middle between F and L then there is no leakage. Bike has 48000 km on and oil consumption is very little. Should I open it and change gasket or just take a 5000 km trip?

RIDER: Slobodan Simic

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
Don't bother, just keep an eye on the oil and take the trip! Every big Suzi I have owned blows oil like this, especially when thrashed.
REPLY: Joe Amidon
The Clymer manual indicates you can replace the lower cylinder gaskets without replacing the rings and honing the cylinders if they are not worn. Apparently, the rings don't shift when you take the cylinders off. At 48000 miles,. You may want to replace the rings anyway. I have the same problem you do. My engine started leaking from the bottom of the cylinder a small amount, but enough to keep my boot and bottom pants leg wet with oil, and I'm about to leave on a 2,000 mile trip. I just don't feel like tearing the damn thing apart right now and it's running really well. 

What I did was caulk the bottom of the cylinder liberally with silicone, and it appears to have stopped the leak. I don't know if it will keep for 2,000 miles, but I'm going to try and am taking plenty of silicone with me. I plan to tear the thing apart this winter.

DATE: June 18, 1999
QUESTION: Loose rotor - 1983 GS1100 Katana

The rotor has spun off the taper fit on the end of the crank and rattles. what is the fix? Does the crank need to be rebuilt, does it need to be keyed? Who does this kind of work in the Michigan area? Any information would be greatly appreciated. The Zuker will rise again!!!

RIDER: Steve Laity

REPLY: Scott Horner
If the rotor is rattling after the assembly has been torqued then you definitely have a problem. The "big end" as us Drag racers call it can be replaced. The crank will have to be removed for the procedure. I personally only recommend only one crank builder Gardner Racing Concepts (GRC) in central Massachusetts (608) 653-0477. Stanley will only rebuild the entire crank, not just the big end. You may try, without my blessings, Falicon (727) 797-2468. I also have good used cranks. Best of luck!

DATE: June 18, 1999
QUESTION: Clanking noise coming from the left side - 1979 GS1000L

I have a 1979 GS1000L that I have a question about. I recently installed a Dyna S electric ignition and have been having problems since. The bike is harder to start and there is excessive engine noise as I try to start it. There is a spark in all 4 plugs but it seems quite weak and as the engine turns over trying to start the is a horrible clanking noise that seems to come from the left hand side of the engine. Any ideas on what's wrong and how to remedy it would be greatly appreciated.

RIDER: Curtis James Smolen

REPLY: Scott Horner
My guess is that the Dyna ignition was installed with too much timing. I am assuming that you are still using the stock centrifugal advance unit. When the GS's are hard starting, i.e., low battery, timing, worn starter, high compression you will hear "the clank." What you are hearing is the starter clutch being slammed clockwise as the engines compression overcomes the starters ability to crank the engine. In short terms, the motor is running backwards, or attempting to. I would check your battery and set the Dyna at 34 degrees of total, and inspect your centrifugal advancer for proper function.

DATE: June 18, 1999
QUESTION: Left side oil leak - 1981 GS1100EX

Has anyone experienced a major oil leak, it appears to be coming from the alternator casing. There is a large amount of oil coming from what looks like the alternator casing and from inside the starter. I pulled off the casing covering the primary sprocket/shifter and noticed that it was coming from two places, one from a hole (a vent hole) where he starter goes into the stator housing. Where is it really coming from and what is needed to correct this problem ? Is this a main seal gone bad? The bike only does this when it has warmed up. Any help would be appreciated, as at present the only manual I have is an aftermarket one that doesn't show much and the local mechanic has no clue, due o the fact he has never worked on a Suzuki GS 1100.

RIDER: Bill Surgenor

REPLY: Scott Horner
From my experience, you need the starter O-ring from Suzuki PN 09280-24003 and some sealer (I recommend Threebond 1104) on the rubber seal from the stator, and a new gasket PN 11483-49210. The oil is getting out of the generator cover and into the starter area past the starter O-ring or into the area where the stator wiring exits the cases by way of a bad gasket seal or by the rubber seal attached to the stator wires.

DATE: June 18, 1999
QUESTION: Blowing smoke after head gasket change - 1978 GS750E

Hi guys great site!

I replaced the head gasket on my gs750e the other day because it was leaking badly and running worse than usual. after putting it back together I did a compression test and found readings between 30-60 PSI according to the book that's way too low It still runs but wont idle and has almost no get up an go. should I be looking at piston rings or a valve problem I think I got the cam timing correct ( I did what the shop manual told me) any help would be appreciated. (oh and I noticed alot of blue smoke from cyl #1 but that was not the cyl with the lowest compression)

RIDER: Terry Duchene

REPLY: Frank Perreault
My guess would be worn rings or cylinders.  Also, problems could be caused if  you forgot to stagger the gaps in the rings when you assembled the test.   You can try pumping low pressure air into each cylinder with the valves shut and see if you can detect where the air is escaping from the engine.  If you can do this, then you'll need to have the dealer do it.

DATE: May 21, 1999
QUESTION: Engine swap - 1982 GS850L

I need to know if an GS110GK engine will fit into my 850L frame and if yes do I need any thing else like swing arm, shaft etc..?

RIDER: Bart Reevie

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
Yep, should go straight in but the shaft is longer on the 1100 than the 850 and 1000G's so you will need the shaft and swingarm as well.
Bill Patten
Yes it will. I put an 1100gl engine into an 850g. I used the 850 swingarm and 1100 final drive. They appear interchangeable but I wasn't sure if the gearing was the same. You will have to modify the airbox to fit the bigger carbs. You'll need bigger carb to airbox boots. Should be available as an 1100GL part.

DATE: May 21, 1999
QUESTION: Engine oil in middle gear 1980 GS850G

My GS850G has 98000 miles. Original set of rings and cam chain though the engine gaskets were replaced 20000 ago The engine oil is making its way into the middle gear compartment. I discovered this looking for the source of a persistent oil leak. The oil fills the compartment and oozes out under the cap. The middle gear is obviously not getting the viscosity of lubricant recommended. But the leak is several years old, and there is no noticeable effect on the drive train. I use Mobil 1 20W50 oil. I do not drop clutch, ride two-up or ride mountains often. That may explain why I have not had to deal with middle gear problems so far. It does me great psychological harm to wipe $4/quart oil off the side of my motorcycle.

My questions are these:

Am I right in assuming that the this would not be a minor repair? If so, what other parts would it be prudent to replace while I am at it? My other choice is to cut some gaskets for the middle gear openings and try to keep the engine oil sealed in. Given my conservative riding style, something else on the bike may be more likely to break before the middle gear starts giving a problem. Any comments on the above would be greatly appreciated.

RIDER: Don Pepe

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
Errr...what's a middle gear compartment? If it is what I think it is, i.e. the front shaft drive gear compartment, then the seal is going between engine and shaft box.

Since the shaft drive runs hypoid gear oil this has bad ramifications for both engine and shaft drive (BTW you should be using 10W 40.....) and if this is so, or if oil is leaking from the engine into somewhere there shouldn't be oil then the seal needs replacing which is full engine strip and split the crankcases unfortunately. On a 100K bike this is a good time to check everything.......

Hope this hits the mark somewhere..

DATE: May 21, 1999
QUESTION: Big end bearing failure questions - 1978 GS850N

GS 850 big end bearing failure

The most left big end bearing of my gs 850 '79 is broken. What is the best thing to do (mechanically and financially): replace the bearing or look for another second hand crank. Which crankshafts could I use? Does the gs1000 shaft fit?

RIDER: Arthur Aalsma

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
Replace the bearing!!! - GS 1000 G (shaft) crank won't fit GS 850...but the whole engine will if you can get hold of one, bolts straight in.

DATE: May 21, 1999
QUESTION: Cam chain tensioner leaks oil - GS450T

My timing chain tensioner leaks. Is there any trick to disassembly without springs flying out and losing parts? How difficult is re-assembly?

RIDER: Gary Angelone

REPLY: Frank Perreault
It's a spring loaded assembly.  Have fun and be careful!

DATE: May 21, 1999
QUESTION: Oil Leak - 1981 GS850GX

I have a oil leak at the bottom of oil filter cover. When I changed oil and filter the previous time I used a little grease to hold the gasket in place. Could the filter cover have a slight warp or crack that i didn't notice? I am using Fram CH 6000 filters. Should I use a little bit of silicone with the gasket to help seal the area or try to purchase a new cover? You have a really great site with lots of useful information. Thanks in advance, Tim

RIDER: Tim Coan

REPLY: Frank Perreault
I would try replacing the rubber gasket in the oil filter cover first.   With the age of it, it is most likely hardened and compressed thereby not creating a good seal. 
John G. Bloemer
Since you are using the FRAM CH6000 filters that include a new "O ring" for the oil filter cover with the filter, Frank's original response probably is not your problem.

It is possible to pinch a new O-ring when installing it, which most likely would cause a leak. The surface of the cover may also have a burr on it, or may no longer be flat (warped). Warpage can be caused by a burr or foreign object under the cover when tightened, or not tightening the nuts to the proper (equal) torque.

To rid the cover of burrs or slight warpage it is possible to "lap" it on a piece of window glass with fine valve grinding compound. 400-600 grit "sand paper" could also be used to start, and finish with fine valve grinding compound. Window glass is pretty flat, but it will need to be supported while lapping. I use my kitchen table for supporting the glass. A Formica counter top would also work. Don't push too hard, the weight of the cover, your hand and arm is all you need. Pushing too hard will "flex" the glass and may even crack it. Also use a figure-8 pattern when lapping, and turn the piece often to get an even cut.

Do NOT use a glass table top or a mirror that you intend to use again because the valve grinding/lapping compound will scratch the glass very badly. Be sure to clean all the compound off the cover before reinstalling it because the compound will also grind-up the inside of your engine.

Also check the surface on the engine for dings/burrs. These can be CAREFULLY removed with a fine file about 3/4 inch wide. Use the full width of the file to ensure "flatness" is maintained where the burr/ding was.
Scott Horner
If the Fram CH 6000 was produced in the Philippines (it will say on the box), the new o-ring with the filter was not correct. The o-ring was too narrow, and caused leakage. If it is still causing you problems, I suggest going OEM. I have some in stock if you need it, $2 + shipping, or $5 to your door. Fram has since corrected the situation. Good Luck!

DATE: April 23, 1999
QUESTION: Ignition timing - 1985 GS700E

Can ignition timing be changed?

RIDER: George S. Butler

REPLY: Zack Schultz
There are a number of companies that make an ignition advancer. Try Vance and Hines or Rohm Engineering. This will bolt on and add typically 5 or 10 degrees advance.
Billy Ricks
There are two ways to change your ignition timing. One is with an ignition advancer which replaces the stock rotor and the other is with a new black box. I don't think anyone makes one specifically for the GS700 but with a little harness splicing I'm sure one could be made to work. The Vance and Hines unit allows you to select timing and curve characteristics.
Scott Horner
Yes, your timing can be altered. You may alter only the total advance of the bike by slotting the ignition pickup plate inside the right engine cover. If you wanted to change advance curves you could use ignition boxes (CDI, "black box") from another model. Dyna does not currently produce a 2000 for that application, but you may want to contact them in the future, it would offer you exactly what you need. Good Luck!

DATE: March 28, 1999
QUESTION: Engine rebuild? - 1981 GSX750EX

A couple of days ago I noticed some oil seeping out near the cylinder head bolt. Is it a blown cylinder head gasket? My mechanic recommends that I replace all the cylinder rings and bore my block since I have to replace the gasket. My question is: 1.How soon do I need to fix it? This is coz' I am planning on a 400 mile trip soon and was wondering can I get it done after that. 2.Do I really need to fix it as the guy said it would cost quite a bit of money...(which I am rather short off now) This is my first bike and I love it.

RIDER: Benjamin Goh

REPLY: Frank Perreault
I would try retorquing all the top end bolts with a torque wrench and see if that helps before I go plunking down serious cash.  It sounds like he's trying to sell you a rebuild. 

Suzuki uses metal gaskets between the heads and cylinders so unless the bike has been seriously abused the gaskets should reseal for you.  Make sure you use a torque wrench and follow the proper torquing sequence or else all bets are off.

DATE: February 28, 1999
QUESTION: Bad engine noise after overrev - 1981 GS650G

There I was, riding home from a New Years party, and my bike shat its self.

I was sitting on 120 KPH coming down a hill and the bike jumped out of 5th gear, and into a false neutral (the instruments indicated it was in 4th). I stopped straight away. I hitched home, got a trailer and took it back, now I've got to fix it, on one hell of a tiny budget (I'm a student).

The symptoms are: -The gears are extremely hard to change. -I can't seem to find neutral, but with the engine running in 1st gear and the clutch in it seems to run fine, with the exception of a clanking noise. -If the clutch is slowly released the clanking gets worse and the gear lever jumps around a bit . -Sometimes the clutch can be released completely but most of the time, just after the clutch has started to grab I can here an unpleasant grinding noise. Needless to say, I didn't listen to that too long. -The clanking seems to be emitting from the clutch housing, which I took off and quickly inspected it, everything seems fine, with the exception of a few metal flakes laying around. God know how much came out with the oil.

I would be very grateful for any help on the matter. I'm intending on doing as much of the work on it as I can, to save money. Ironically, I was about to put the bike on the market due to lack of money :-(

RIDER: Warren Butler

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Sounds like you overreved the engine and damaged it.  Needless to say, overrev and small budget are mutually exclusive, so I think you're stuck.  The engine will most likely need to be disassembled to ensure you didn't wipe out a bearing or bend something up.
Warren Butler
I didn't realize that 6500 rpm was classified as high, did you read 120mph instead of 120kph? Anyway, you were right, it was a loose bearing. The bearing sat behind and to the left of the clutch and supports the end of the shaft that has all the gear cogs fitted to it. There was no damage so I refitted the bearing with a few taps of a hammer, I was told this would be enough.

About 1000km latter the bearing fell out again, this time causing a little more damage. When I went to order the new parts I found that there was supposed to be a key that held the bearing in place, so I'm now taking the engine apart to put it in.

I was just wondering, while I have the engine apart, is there anything specific I should check or replace.

PS, I've decided to keep the bike.
Frank Perreault
6500 RPM isn't high - the resulting RPM's when you hit the false neutral is high.  That's why it's called overrev.   ;-)

Hopefully this won't end up being an expensive fix.  Best of luck!

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: Bike running rich in cold weather  - 1981 GS650E

I have been a long time fan of your site and you have helped me in the past, but alas the gremlins come again. (I don't know if you remember, but I'm the guy whose bike got run over by the dump truck a couple of months back.)

Anyways, I have a 1981 GS650E with 30k on it and I am having carb problems. It all started when I put #100 jets in the carbs to beef them up a little and to account for the rusted out exhaust. That worked until the weather started to cool off and then all of the plugs started to get bleak. I put on the stock #97.5 jets back in and everything was okay. . . for awhile. Then the bike really started to run bad and I realized that they needed a synchronization and I also set the mixture screws to 1.5 turns. That worked until I realized that I didn't tighten the locknuts on the syncronyzer adjusters. After doing that, it ran okay. . . for awhile. Then the #1 plug started to get black and the #2 plug started to get wet (with gas). I don't know if it is winter setting in and I need to readjust everything again, or what.

Please help me figure this out. Riding the bus to class is really cramping my style!

RIDER: Tom Minton

REPLY: Willie Rowe
Can't speak to your problem other than to point out that as it gets colder your motor will tend to run leaner not richer due to receiving a denser charge of O2 molecules,. in other words, as a given volume of gas contracts as it cools , its components become more concentrated in this case o2 and nitrogen).  Hope that bit of a chemistry lesson helps! PS, it usually takes extreme temp changes to effect jetting on properly set up 4 stroke motors such as yours (have ridden my GS 550 in sub zero many times w/o probs.).

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: Kick start retrofit project - GS550

I am re-building a GS 550 engine and want to fit a kick starter assembly now that it did not have before. Everything works fine so far, except one thing: what spring do I need? I have one that does not reach all the way through the hole in the housing right under the shaft, so I doubt I have the right spring or know the right place. My dealer cannot help and the Suzuki GS 550 manual has a photo of the GS 750, nice trick! Where is the spring anchored? For now I chose a horizontal strut on the right, but this is maybe too little tension for the spring as I have to wind it up now by only 90 degrees. I want to put the clutch together and fit the cover - HELP!

RIDER: Jan Burke

REPLY: Henry Dedrick
Did you get your kickstarter back together yet? I saw your posting from Dec. and you said the Suzuki manual had the wrong picture for the assy. Are you using the factory book, or a Clymer, or a Haynes? My factory manual shows a sectional view that indicates the outer (return) spring inboard end sits in the hole in the case using the hole under the shaft), but it apparently doesn't poke all the way through. but the diagram is inconsistent w/other photographs nearby.

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: Is head swap possible GS550/GS650?

Having recently mortally wounded my 1977 GS550 while attempting to keep ahead of poorly ridden but much faster sport bikes, I would like more power. I have heard that a GS650 top end will bolt on. Is this true and what does this entail? Other mods beyond the usual K&N  / pipe thing?

PS: don't tell me to get a faster bike, this one handles better than my 83 1100e.

RIDER: Willie Rowe

REPLY: Henry Dedrick
I don't know if this is possible, but if you go through with it, and you end up having to go with the 650's carbs, I'm interested in your old carbs. My 1980 550 (and all 650's also, I think) have CV carbs to meet emissions. These Mikuni BS series carbs aren't as good as the ones (Mikuni VM series) on the early bikes. I think they're set up too lean, and not all jets are available to adjust for it. Good Luck!

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: Cold blooded engine - 1981 GS850

I wonder if you could please help. I have just seen your web site and think that it's spiffing. I have a 1981 Gs 850. I have a sidecar attached, which is great. The problem l have is that the bike takes ages to "warm up". It fails to pull cleanly when cold, bot appears much improved when hot. I recently fitted a MOTAD exhaust which "blued" the header pipes almost immediately.

A recent plug chop failed to reveal any profound mixture problems. Can l adjust the float height to richen the mixture, or can l get to the mixture screws and effect the mixture this way. Is a main jet upsize a possible solution to this annoying little problem.

Thank you very much for any possible advise relating to this matter.

RIDER: Frederick Collins Smith

REPLY: Zack Schultz
Adding a header will improve the breathing capability of an engine. If you did nothing to increase the flow *into* the engine, improving the exhaust flow will have the effect of running lean. Blued pipes etc. are an indication of that. You can start with raising the needles a little in by sliding some small washers under their hangers 'lifting' them a little. 'Course, the washers are not precision, so the carbs will be ever so slightly off one another. If that doesn't help, up the size of the main jet. Another course of action is to get a kit from DynoJet or Factory etc.

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: Engine knock at idle - 1982 GS650L

I have a 1982 GS 650 L that has a little idling engine noise. It almost sounds like a engine knock in a car, but it only does it when idling, never at speed do I hear the noise. It isn't excessively loud but I am curious as to what it is. I use Spectro 4 oil (20w-50 in summer and 10w-40 in the fall). Is this simply a "GS noise" or should I worry about the bike. I bought it used, and it has 16,000 miles on it. Any info is greatly appreciated.

RIDER: Damon Smith

REPLY: Henry Dedrick
Damon, is it worse when you're low on gas?  My 550 has had a knock for a while, it seems to disappear when I fill the tank.  I'm not sure if it's real...and just being amplified by the empty tank, or if it's only coming from some engine-tank contact (which I've looked for but not found).
Dan Renkel
I have an intermittant knock at idle and when pulling away on my GS850. Turned out to be a loose inner pipe in the one header pipe. Found it by holding a screwdriver handle to my ear while touching various metal bits with the tip. I also found a dent in that pipe indicating some prior mishap had occured. Hope you find something as minor.

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: What type of camshaft do I have? - 1981 GSX1100

The GS Resource is a very nice site an I read it regularly !

In Sweden (and maybe in other countries) GSX1100's have been sold with white weaker camshaft because of some stupid insurance rules but it is possibly to buy a "Export Camshaft" . Now to my question: I bought a GSX1100 -81 engine for one years ago and now I started to some renovation and found out that previous owner had modified cam shaft sprockets so they can be adjusted. First of all I must know what cam shaft type I have, is there some kind of ID mark ? and then I must know cam timing settings. I have Haynes repair manual but it says noting about cam types or timing settings. Is there someone who knows more about this ?

Have own site about my Suzuki project

RIDER: Kenneth Nilsson

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
For camshafts try Straightline Racing in the UK - they do mail order and have cams for all GS / GSX's from stock up to full race, they are GS / GSX / GSXR specialists, mostly setting up GSX 1100's for drag racing.

They live at: Straightline Racing Garage Lane Setch King's Lynn Norfolk PE33 0BE UK    Give them a call at +44 1553 811855

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: How to get bike to run cooler - 1980 GS1000

I feel that my 1980 Suzuki GS1000G runs too hot on anything that remotely resembles a warm day. In other words, anything over about 60 degrees. It has a Vetter Windjammer fairing and hard bags on the bike. I don't want to get rid of the fairing. The bike has no oil cooler and has the stock exhaust. The bike pings very easily on the warmer days. I helped the problem somewhat by installing larger mainjets. This has helped reduce the pinging substantially at wide open throttle openings. I tried to shim the needles to raise the needle position to give it slightly richer carburetion at partial openings too, but I think the way the needles are designed with the spring set-up they have that the shims serve no useful purpose then.

What other measures might I try other than the obvious installation of an oil cooler? I did think how I should be able to retard the timing a few degrees by rotating the CD ignition pick-up plate down on the right side of the crankshaft. What other suggestions may I have overlooked. Your help will be greatly appreciated. It is a nice comfortable bike and makes a decent low priced sport-tourer now that I have installed good Dunlop K491's in the spring of '98. I'd like to keep the bike but I usually have to avoid situations where I ride thru city traffic and such. Thanks.

RIDER: Terry Blair

REPLY: Robert Del Riego
Other than the fairing blocking the air flow to the motor, if the ignition timing is right on and the carburetion is right (perhaps a bigger if than you may think), two things occur to me: 1. If there are significant air leaks in the intake system they could lean out the mixture enough to cause your problem. You say the pinging decreases at full throttle which is a low vacuum state. I assume it pings heavily at part throttle which is a high vacuum condition where air leaks would affect operation more. 2. Pinging is sometimes caused by hot spots and/or an increase in compression ratio arising from carbonization on the piston tops, valves and the combustion chambers. Does grade of gas have any effect?

DATE: February 9, 1999
QUESTION: Engine swap - 1984 GS750EF

I have no problem with my motor as it is but I'm always looking for that extra advantage.  I love to have the power of deception on my side.  Ii was looking at the 1100E looks close to mine, even the Katana's does...but my motor has the smaller motor in it, besides the ability to find nothing but straight from Suzuki parts its great, i could use a good place to find parts too....Please help me

RIDER: Darcy Oickle

REPLY: Arthur Aalsma
I swapped the engine of my 1981 GSX 750 for a 1980 GSX1100E engine and it fits easily into the 750 frame. The only thing you have to make are the two engine brackets at the bottomside of the engine because the original ones do not fit. I also replaced the frontfork and clamps because the engine is so much more powerful it can use a bigger frontend. This is also the reason I installed steel braking lines. It is nice to drive fast but nice to stop in time.
Billy Ricks
A good source for parts is Cycle News. They have a website and if you take out a subscription they have a great classified section. A lot of racers sell their spare parts there.

DATE: January 26, 1999
QUESTION: Cam setting instructions needed - 1982 GS1100

I need instructions for setting the cam timing marks on a GS1100.

RIDER: David Johnston

REPLY: Frank Perreault
The camchain tensioner should already be out.

1) Remove the side timing cover and rotate the crankshaft clockwise until the "T" mark for the Number 1 -4 aligns with the mark.
2) Lube the journals and bearing surfaces on the exhaust cam (marked EX) with assembly lube.
3) Take the exhaust cam and slip it through the cam chain with the notch on the end of the cam facing to the right-side of the engine.
4) Position the chain on the camshaft so that the arrow on the side of the cam sprocket is lined up with the gasket surface of the cylinder head. (facing forward).  Make sure no slack is in the front of the cam chain and that the mark still lines up.
5) Install the inside and outside bearing caps.  The letters in the casting of the bearing should match the number stamped into the cylinder head.  The triangle faces forward.  Torque bolts to 6-8.5 ft. lbs..
6) Lube the journals and bearing surfaces on the intake cam (marked IN) with assembly lube.
7) Position the chain on the cam sprocket so that 20 chain pins are between arrow 2 on the exhaust camshaft sprocket and arrow 3 on the intake camshaft sprocket.
8) Install the inside and outside bearing caps.  The letters in the casting of the bearing should match the number stamped into the cylinder head.  The triangle faces forward.  Torque bolts to 6-8.5 ft. lbs..
9) Install the cam chain tensioner.
10) Adjust the valves.

DATE: January 3, 1999
QUESTION: Bad engine noise after overrev - 1981 GS650G

There I was, riding home from a New Years party, and my bike shat its self.

I was sitting on 120 KPH coming down a hill and the bike jumped out of 5th gear, and into a false neutral (the instruments indicated it was in 4th). I stopped straight away. I hitched home, got a trailer and took it back, now I've got to fix it, on one hell of a tiny budget (I'm a student).

The symptoms are: -The gears are extremely hard to change. -I can't seem to find neutral, but with the engine running in 1st gear and the clutch in it seems to run fine, with the exception of a clanking noise. -If the clutch is slowly released the clanking gets worse and the gear lever jumps around a bit . -Sometimes the clutch can be released completely but most of the time, just after the clutch has started to grab I can here an unpleasant grinding noise. Needless to say, I didn't listen to that too long. -The clanking seems to be emitting from the clutch housing, which I took off and quickly inspected it, everything seems fine, with the exception of a few metal flakes laying around. God know how much came out with the oil.

I would be very grateful for any help on the matter. I'm intending on doing as much of the work on it as I can, to save money. Ironically, I was about to put the bike on the market due to lack of money :-(

RIDER: Warren Butler

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Sounds like you overreved the engine and damaged it.  Needless to say, overrev and small budget are mutually exclusive, so I think you're stuck.  The engine will most likely need to be disassembled to ensure you didn't wipe out a bearing or bend something up.

DATE: January 3, 1999
QUESTION: Leaking head gasket - 1980 GS850GL

Good day! You helped me before with my needles in my 1980 GS850GL bike. Thank-you, I ended up replacing all four with aftermarket needles. I now have a leaking head gasket. There is a "sweat" of oil around the top of the head. Can I repair this without having special tools? I don't have a shop manual for the bike, but a buddy tells me I'll have to disconnect the timing chain( due to the engine being DOHC) and get a valve lash gauge. Is this correct? I got all kinds of time to do this now that winter is here in Ohio.

Thank-you for all your help and GREAT web page.

RIDER: Kevin Blackstone

REPLY: Frank Perreault
You may be able to cure this if the leaking is minor by simply retorquing the head bolts.  To do this you'll need a torque wrench and a manual in order to be able to set the correct torque settings for the various bolts.  Maybe one of our readers can give you these numbers from their manual.

If this doesn't work to stop the leak, then you'll have to replace the gasket.   You'll need the copper crush washers and some other pieces like the gasket itself in order to do this job.  I would also highly recommend getting a service manual if you find you need to rip the head off!  Your Suzuki parts dealer can help with that along with some of the places listed on our Links page.  As for setting valve lash, all you'll need for that is a feeler gauge and the disks if your 850 uses the cup and disks method of setting valve clearance.

DATE: January 3, 1999
QUESTION: Loud clacking noise in topend - 1982 GS750TZ

I have a similar problem on a 1982 GS750TZ (TSCC 4 valves per cylinder, no-shim valve adjustments) I just bought. It is showing only 4,300 miles on the odometer, so I figured how bad could an engine get screwed up in 4,300 miles. The engine starts well and idles well but there is a VERY loud ticking / clacking noise around #4 head/valve area. It sounds like it is tearing itself up inside. I adjusted the valves (0.004" gauge passes, 0.005" won't pass), so it isn't lifter/tappet noise. Besides this is way too loud for that The noise gets worse with speed, and the frequency increases with speed.

Does anyone else have any ideas? My worst fear is that previous owners somehow let raw fuel flow into #4 cylinder then cranked the engine. Can't compress liquid, so bang..., bent connecting rod. Could be oil starved too, but how and why? Or, could a valve be stuck in the valve guide? Since this is an '82 with only 4,300 miles it probably spent a lot of time sitting somewhere. Any help appreciated!!!!

RIDER: John G. Bloemer

REPLY: John G. Bloemer
I ran the bike with the cam/valve cover off to check for top-end oil flow. There was plenty on all cam lobes, and as evidenced by the oil slick now on my driveway where I ran it. Luckily I had sense enough to cover the front tire/brake with a sheet before I ran it.

My next thought is that a valve is partially stuck open and a piston is hitting it. I am still hoping it is NOT a bent connecting rod, or bad main bearing. To check the valve theory out, the head comes off next.....
Just a thought, could it be the cam chain that connects the cams together and is on the top side of the motor? Maybe it has too much slack in it.
John G. Bloemer
Thanks, Scott! I've been there since my original question about the very loud noise from my 1982 GS750tz. The cam chain and sprockets are tight. The chain and sprockets look like new, and the cams only show slight indications of use, all further evidence that the 4,300 mile odometer reading is most likely correct. I also briefly ran the engine with the cam cover off to check for oil flow, and to see if anything was flopping around up there. All looked good. My next effort will be compression check (valve stuck part way open?). Then, off with the head for a look.
John G. Bloemer
The latest diagnostic trick was to put a small diameter dowel stick (wood, about the diameter and length of a new pencil) in the spark plug hole(s) (one at a time) turn the engine over slowly by-hand until just after top-dead-center (the dowel stick starts to go back down in the spark plug hole - MAKE SURE THE STICK IS LONG ENOUGH NOT TO FALL INSIDE THE CYLINDER!), at this point give the dowel stick a quick push down by hand (not a lot of force is needed, don't run the dowel stick through your hand!). If the connecting rod lower bearing and piston pin are good, the stick (and piston) should not clunk down at all, there should be immediate resistance to the downward push of the dowel stick. If the stick (and piston) go down at all with little resistance and stop, the lower connecting rod bearing (or possibly the piston pin) is bad.

Before buying your next used bike you may want to try this trick to check for connecting rod (lower engine) problems.

On my engine #1, #2, and #3 were all good and tight (dowel stick DID NOT clunk down), but on #4 the dowel clunked down about 1/16 inch, or so. This tells me that my LOUD NOISE is a lower engine problem (most likely lower connecting rod bearing) and not a head/cam problem. I just hope now that the crank did not sustain any damage!

Fixing this one is a Christmas break job. Does anyone know where I can get connecting rod bearing inserts, gaskets, and seals cheap, i.e., less than bike shop retail price?
John G. Bloemer
Well, I got the engine out and case split yesterday. My worst fear is the case. The problem is the lower connecting rod bearing on #4. The bearing was spinning in the connecting rod, and most of the bearing material had been banged out. As a result, the crank journal is in bad shape. I was hoping to save this old GS. Now, I plan to part it out - see for sale section of the GS Resources page.

DATE: December 5, 1998
QUESTION: Modified engine w/ valve clearance probs - 1978 GS1000

I wonder if anybody could help me resolve a problem with my 78 GS1000 I am tuning. I have fitted a shim under bucket conversion using titanium retainers and buckets but I have run into clearance problems. I am using the smallest shim available (2mm) in conjunction with stage 3 Kent cams (the same applies with stock cams) and have zero clearance between the bucket and the cam. I have ground a valve stem and taken material from the top of the retainer to gain clearance but to no avail. My supplier has been as good as useless suggesting I grind more of the valves and collets which I don't feel is a satisfactory resolution as I am tuning the GS for more revs and power!!.

Do I need to change the valves from stock to shorter stemmed valves with differently positioned collet grooves? Or have I been supplied the wrong kit? I have already installed a Wiseco 1100 big bore kit and have a set of 33 mil smoothbores ready but at this rate I will be running the motor in with snow on the ground! Fabulous Web Site!!!!

RIDER: Stephan Birtwhistle

REPLY: Tim Noell
Did you have any other work done to the cylinder heads? Could the valve seats have been cut too deep, raising the valves higher? Just a thought.... P.S. I've seen the S.O.B. mod done many times with no troubles...

DATE: December 5, 1998
QUESTION: Leaking oil out of engine - 1981 GS850GX

My son took over my 850 and after a year [around 20,000 miles]. One of the engine gaskets started to leak badly. He bought a set of Vesrah gaskets and had them installed by a local shop near Ann Arbor, MI in August, 1998. After about 700 miles he retorqued the head bolts. In September we took a trip around Lake Superior and he had to constantly check the oil which we believe came from the base gasket. The shop was told to check the rings as they did the job. The engine leaks and it is smoking out the tail pipes.

What do you recommend? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

RIDER: Chuck Duarte

REPLY: Frank Perreault
If oil is coming out of the tail pipe my guess is that the head gasket wasn't installed properly.  If the base gasket is leaking then it sounds like they messed that one up too - probably from improper torque, though I never heard of Vesrah gaskets.   I always use Suzuki gaskets myself, even if they are pricey. 

Sounds like you need to bring the bike back and see what they say about it.   Needless to say, it isn't normal.

DATE: November 1, 1998
QUESTION: Motor swap question - 1982 GS650L

I'm a proud owner of a 1982 GS 650 L!!!! I love the motorcycle, and am planning on taking the bike apart this winter for some paint work, and minor restoration. I am also going to have the engine looked over. I was wondering if a GS 1100 engine will fit in my bike, or would it be easier to work with the shaft drive and the like and make the bike a terror by simply hopping up the 650? Any help would be appreciated!!

RIDER: Damon Smith

REPLY:  Malcolm Evans
*Deep breath* GS 1100 into 650 will not go at all without frame mods;

GS 1100 G and GS 1000 G will go straight into GS 850 frames although you will have to get the swingarm and shaft as well for the 1100:

GSX 1100 goes straight into GS 1000

GS 850 head bolts straight onto GS 750 bottom end

GS 650 - get the GS 650 Katana carbs, try a hot pipe (Vance & Hines, Harris) with K&N filter in the standard airbox with a stage 1 or 2 DynoJet kit for more fun!!!

DATE: September 27, 1998
QUESTION: Odd noise - 1983 GS1100E

About 35k miles, started noticing a sound that seems to be a cross between a knock and a chain slap. Does NOT happen in neutral. Normally hear it during accelerating after gear changes, from 2k-4k rpm, though sometimes also when downshifting. Slightly more noticeable when cold.

I use Castrol 10W-40, and change oil every 3k-4k miles.

Just checked valve clearances and they're spot on. Planning on doing a compression check sometime in the next couple of weeks, but would appreciate any other ideas and suggestions on what to look for.

Don't forget to copy Frank <> on any replies. Thanks.

RIDER: Pete Peters

REPLY: Zack Schultz
Have you checked the cam chain adjuster/adjustment? That's if it's coming from the engine. The other thing to consider is that the drive chain is too loose and slapping against the swingarm. Easy to check.

DATE: September 27, 1998
QUESTION: Engine questions - 1981 GS1000GLX

I have a question about my GS1000GLX. I have talked to several people, here in Co. Springs, and they are all clueless. I hope that maybe somebody can help me on your Q&A page. My name is Jack McGee, and my address is

My Dad just recently bought an 82 1100E. We didn't know how awesome that bike was until we read your 'HISTORY' page. My Dad is so excited about his bike! He tells everyone about your page now, and has them read the history on his 1100E (if they like it or not! lol). He just can't get over it!

Here is my question:

Hello! My name is Jack, and I have an 81 GS1000GLX. I love this bike! This is the only bike I have ever owned, and it is in beautiful condition! Unfortunately, I am having problems with the 40k mile engine. It runs strong, and uses NO oil, but it vibrates BADLY past 2.5k RPM's. It has been doing this for a long time, but I can't stand it anymore. I think it might be bad rod bearings, but I'm not sure. Nobody, around here, knows what can cause it. If I have to rebuild the engine, is there an 81 GS1000 rebuild kit I can buy? My Dad has an 82 1100E (with the 16 valve engine) and I love that engine! Is there any way I can put a 16 valve head on my 1000cc engine? If my 1000cc engine is gone, I want to try to rebuild it into a 16 valve engine (If that's possible). If I can't. Could I stuff an 1100E engine in my 1000 chassis? I have never rebuilt a motorcycle engine before, so any advice, tips, etc would be greatly appreciated. I work on a lot of cars with DOHC engines, but I have never done a complete rebuild. I have a lot of tools, and experience with mechanics though. Thanks!

RIDER: Jack McGee

REPLY: Zack Schultz
Lot's of questions you have. First, I am unaware of any rebuild kit per se for the 1000. There is, however, a gasket kit that makes things easier. Putting an 1100 16 valve head on the 1000 - don't know. Rebuilding is easy. Tips are, take your time. Get a good manual. Have plenty of time. Get new rings to start. If you need to bore it out, find someone who can make a >straight<, >round< hole and has the right machines. Have the head checked for proper seals and take a good look at the valves and seats. Consider having them touched up if they are suspect.

DATE: September 26, 1998
QUESTION: Should he rebuild? - 1982 GS850G

How long is forever. These bikes" run forever" -right? Mine has just over 50k miles. It has had regular tune ups, frequent oil changes (2000mi intervals) with MOTORCYCLE oil and has run on premium fuel. It has been ridden aggressively, seeing the upper 1/3 of the tach regularly. An oil cooler was fitted at 25,000 miles. Compression readings are (warmed up engine per Clymer manual) 150/140/135/150 dry. "Wet" readings are 155/140/140/155. "cold -dry- readings are approx. 20 PSI lower. The bike still runs well, starts easily and looks good. The valve train (cam chain?) is starting to make noise, the clutch is possibly slipping when under full throttle/high rpm load and the engine is using about 1 quart of oil per thousand miles. I'm trying to figure out whether I want/need to rebuild this engine and is it economically feasible. I can perform disassembly/assembly myself. I would like to extract more ponies from the engine if I'm going to rebuild it. Any guidance? Price estimates? Parts sources (pistons)? Thank you for any assistance

RIDER: Frank Perrine

REPLY: Joe Amidon
I don't think you need a rebuild. The bike appears to be running fine and one quart per 1000 doesn't seem bad at all, especially because you are regularly in the upper third of the rpm range. These things tend to have disturbingly noisy cam chains anyway. Mine makes strange noises from time to time, but it doesn't appear to affect anything and there's no apparent wear (I just took the head off). Of course, if you're just looking for an excuse to tear the thing apart...

DATE: September 26, 1998
QUESTION: Best operating RPM - 1980 GS850L

What is the best operating RPM? I just purchased a 1980 Suzuki GS850L. It has 7,600 miles. I have no owner's manual. Any information you could provide me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

RIDER: Andy Yelverton

REPLY: Zack Schultz
Anything from idle to redline ;-) That was too easy....

Seriously, what do you mean by best? Torque peak, horsepower peak, fuel mileage?
Frank Perreault
Darn Zack, you are stealing my lines...  ;-)

DATE: September 26, 1998
QUESTION: Engine ping - 1981 GS1000G

I own a 81 GS1000G with 32,000 miles. Problem: "Low RPM "PINGING" when ENGINE is hot, usually after an hour of steady highway speeds. I've tried the highest octane fuel, and tried a cooler range sparkplug (B9ES). I thought that I had found the problem when I discovered the "O" rings that seal the Intake Adapters to the Intake Ports had gone bad. After replacement, the engines' performance increased, but, the pinging stayed. I think that an Oil Cooler is the solution, but, I would be grateful for any other suggestions you might have, and, any information on where I can order parts from.

RIDER: George Copeland

REPLY: Tracy Presnell
This may sound overly simple, but with 32K miles there may be some carbon buildup on the piston tops, in the chambers, and on the valves. When this carbon gets hot, as you experience with steady highway speeds, it may stay hot enough to cause the pre-ignition (pinging) you are experiencing. You might try one of the canned fuel additives that says it will clean carbon deposits. Also, you need to make sure that there isn't a buildup of crud on the plugs which could act in the same manner.
Chris Hunter
Can't say I know exactly what the problem is. But I suggest that you look into an aftermarket electronic ignition (i.e. Dyna S) before you go for an oil cooler kit.

DATE: September 26, 1998
QUESTION: Grindy noise - 1982 GSX1100

I'm from the UK. got a problem with my cat. it makes a whirring noise in time with the engine revs akin to the sound of bearings whirring around in a centrifuge. The engine runs fine and the noise appears to emanate from either the clutch or the center of the engine as I can't quite pin it down. In an effort to eliminate possibilities I replaced the clutch transmission springs which were loose and ratty and also the cam chain. The noise does not seem to be damaging anything else as its not a grindy type noise (?)

Can anyone help with suggestions that I can explore.

RIDER: Mark Glover

REPLY: Scott Horner
There are several components that could create symptoms as you describe. The most common I run into is the primary gears, either bent, damaged or misaligned or a crank bearing gone bad. The bearing is usually a clicking or knocking noise rather than a grind or whir, although I have heard them whine. Feel free to contact me with any further info to help determine your problem. Good luck!

DATE: August 26, 1998
QUESTION: Leaky head gasket - GS850GL

It appears that my GS850GL has a bad head gasket. It is leaking oil(?) out around one of the upper "fins" in a straight line. The bike will crank and crank but will not start, only backfire if you continue. Please tell me how I go about changing this gasket. The local shop guy wants $185.00 plus parts! I've worked on engines before but never one with DOHC. It doesn't seem too hard according to the Clymer manual, but it doesn't express whether this is something the average Joe can do with average tools! Please help. Thanks, your site is a great help!

RIDER: Kevin Blackstone

REPLY: Frank Perreault
The fanciest tools you'll need is the Suzuki valve adjusting tool and a torque wrench.  You also need to order the gaskets, O-rings, a tube of Suzuki silicon gasket and the crush gaskets for all the head bolts.  Yes, the "Average Joe" can do it.

DATE: August 26, 1998
QUESTION: Oil leak and jet sizes - 1982 GS1100

I have a 82 GS-1100. and I just took it out for a test spin after changing the oil and filter. At first it was fine then it covered my left foot with oil! It seems to be coming from somewhere around the starter? Is there a breather located around there.

Also it has a 4 into 1 with smooth bores and I think it's cammed. What size pilot jets are normal? It seems to be lacking for fuel right off idle. But then it come on hard and runs decent. The main jets are 127.5's.

RIDER: Jon Erwin

REPLY: Jon Erwin
Thanks for adding my questions. I solved the oil problem. The oil breather tube was plugged and the gasket was bad on the stator cover. Now I only get a small drip from the oil filter.  Still would like to know what pilot jet to try.

DATE: August 24, 1998
QUESTION: Valve clearance - 1982 GS500E

My name is Victor Popovici, I'm from Romania and I own a Suzuki GS500E, manufactured in 1992. The problem with it is that I think I should adjust the valve clearance, however, there's no Suzuki service in my country! Therefore, I would like to know what the valve clearances are, in order to fix it myself. If you know where to order a technical book, I would be grateful if you could give me an address to order it.

RIDER: Victor Popovici

REPLY: Laila Jensen
Hello!  Here comes a message fom Sweden.

I have a GS 500 `90 and I have a technical book from Haynes, look at their home page and see if you can order a book from them.  You asked about valve clearance and they should be 0.03 to 0.08 mm.

DATE: August 24, 1998
QUESTION: Where's the piano wire - 1984 GS1150ES

The Suzuki manual shows a "piano wire" clip in the clutch area, but I am not sure if it is something that is normally replaced when replacing the clutch itself. I did not see any clip when replacing the clutch. Did I miss it, or is it behind the clutch somewhere? It is normal for the bike to clunk (more like a loud click) when put into first gear ? I hear it while stopped at a light and after being in neutral. It does this at normal operating temp. Oil level is correct. I also have a hard time putting the bike into neutral until the engine is warm. I am using 10W-40 oil in California (it's not very cold). After warming up just a little I can put it into neutral easily.

RIDER: Paul Jones

REPLY: Frank Perreault
The piano wire holds the last driven plate onto the clutch basket. There is no need to remove this wire unless you found yourself having to change the rest of the driven plates due to wear.

Yes, it is common for the bike to clunk when putting the bike into gear when at a full stop. You may want to try running motorcycle oil instead of car engine oil for that very reason. Motorcycle oil will make a dramatic improvement for this in addition to making the engine run quieter and smoother.

DATE: August 24, 1998
QUESTION: Giant engine squeal - 1981 GS750EX

I own a 1981 GS750EX. While riding around one day I heard a louder than normal ticking sound from the engine. It grew louder then there was a very quick metal squeal. The engine then quit suddenly. After waiting awhile it started up fine but 10 minutes later it did the same thing. It has less than 9000 miles, ran great, plugs tan and the oil changed recently. I've had the bike less than 1000 miles. I'm wondering if there is a way, beside opening up the engine, how bad or what has happened. Oil changes and carb rebuilds are as far as I've gone with motorcycle engines. Thank You.

RIDER: Brian Vance

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Nope, you'll have to open it up. Sounds like something is seizing up due to lack of lubrication. The only way to know for sure is to crack it open.

DATE: August 24, 1998
QUESTION: Questions - 1981 GSX1100EX

I have just bought an old GSX 1100 EX 1981 (16 valve) which I am giving a (needed) overhaul. It has been modified to 1168 ccm (original 1075). As the engine now is disassembled (from bottom up - third, fourth and fifth gear to be replaced) I might as well do some additional adequate modifications.

1) As far as I can see from this angle the crankshaft is not welded. Should I disassemble the rest of the engine to get it welded (and how is it done) ?

2) At the backside of the clutch drum there are 6 springs. To me it seems as if they have too large play (1 - 2 mm). How would you suggest this fixed ?

3) I have been recommended to replace the oil pump gear to increase the flow. What is your opinion about that ?

4) The original wheels are still in place - is there 17 inch replacement for the front wheel available (etc. a complete pair from another / newer model) ?

To the editors: this is the best place I have found on the Internet regarding the old GS / GSX bikes - keep up the magnificent work !

RIDER: Jimmi Jorgensen

REPLY: Scott Horner
The "quick fix" for you crank is to have it "Trued and Welded". This process does not involve teardown of the crank. It is a affordable solution to a potential problem. Here in the states, this usually costs $85-$100. The other alternative will run over $350. Pay close attention to the center two bearings, the closest two the cam chain sprocket. These two are the first to fail, and the easiest to inspect. Also, a MAJOR problem on the 80-81 1100's was the crank "big end" breaking off at the oiling hole. Remove the rotor (magnet for the charging system) and you will see a hole in the tapered portion of the last crank throw (#1 cylinder). If you can, have that portion magnufluxed for cracks.

The clutch basket, or hub, is one of the weakest OEM components. The only logical solution to your situation is to obtain a heavy duty spring/backing plate kit (called Super hubs or Gorilla kits). These kits need to be installed by a knowledgeable shop. They have a thicker backing plate made from chromoly steel and heavy springs and rivets. The cost for these is about $200 US, with your hub as a core. Consider this purchase as an insurance policy on your motor!!

Lastly, high volume oil pump gears do serve a purpose, however, at a cost. The problem with the gears (don't buy after market, they are the gears out of a two valve GS 750 77-79), is that they OVERDRIVE the oil pump. This can, and has caused early pump failure. When you put the gear on the oil pump, use a new circlip and put a dab of semi hardening sealer over it to help retain it. Use the same product you use on the case halves when assembling. The best of luck to you with your project. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions.
Zack Schultz
On to the questions/my opinions:

1) Welding is done where the weights are pressed onto the crank proper. This is to keep them from spinning while under >extreme< load. Picture your pistons off even a degree or two in reference to each other and you can see why that is not a desirable condition. The problem here is that you need to have a pretty talented welder to achieve a proper weld and then have the crank rebalanced so it doesn't vibrate from the added metal. IMO, unless you really plan on boosting performance, don't worry. If they (the weights) appear to be where Suzuki placed them (nothing shiny at the actual shaft to weight contact point), leave well enough alone.

2) The play you see is normal and taken up on the initial lever travel. If you like, shim with washers to remove some but not all. This will make the clutch start to disengage earlier in the lever travel. Too tight however, and when it warms up, it will always be slightly slipping.

3) Flow is sufficient for stock (or near stock) applications. Just finished an article by Kevin Cameron where Harley was doing design studies on their new engine and found that increased flow did more to heat the oil than to cool the cylinders. As long as sufficient lubrication exists, searching for additional flow isn't necessary - and the 1100 has adequate flow.

4) Don't know about the wheels. My advice here is, if you are going to change, to measure everything before setting the money down. Remember, you need to be sure that your rotors and calipers will also fit. Check bolt patterns and spacing on the rotors. If they are incompatable, get the rotors form the donor. Make sure that the donor rotors are the same diameter or the calipers may not work. Changing calipers affects the hydraulic leverage (something that is still magic to me) that the master cylinder has which may ADVERSELY affect braking. Something not to be taken lightly. Of course, you can have the rotors machined smaller to fit - larger is not so easy. You may need to have special spacers made to allow the calipers to bolt to yuor forks. Also, you will need to change the spedometer gear to have an accurate reading with the new size tire. Sometimes, it may be easier to get the whole front end including master cylinder off of a donor. Of course, you have to make sure that the forks are the same diameter or you'll need the triple clamp also. Sounded so simple 'till I started typing :-) Don't let it stop you, just take all this into account. An informed decision as it were.

Good luck and hope the boss doesn't find an engine in the lab.

DATE: August 24, 1998
QUESTION: Top-end noise and clunky shifting - 1982 GS400E

I would like answers for a couple of questions; I have been riding and playing with cycles much of my life, and though I may not be a motorhead, I have explored my way in and out of a bike or two. I have recently bought my first Suzuki, an '82 GS400E (applause here). I love the way this machine handles, and looks, but I will now go on to say that it must be the most temperamental machine I have ever owned. Which leads me to suspect it was mistreated some time in the past. Or are they just generally that way? She only has 17000 km.

So question one: I have some engine noise, it would seem to be in the top end, I'm thinking I'll check the tolerances of the shims first thing, but presuming they're all A-ok, what should be my next plan of attack? I experience excess vibration above 85 km/h (roughly 55 mph or say 4000 rpm) and I'm finding it a little worrisome. And I want to crank it open on the road and I hate having to restrain myself. Any ideas on how to safely get around that Suzuki brand tappet depressor? Incidentally I have recently acquired a Clymer manual for it but I'm still running through it.

Question two: my transmission is a bit clunky when shifting; is it my tranny or is it my clutch? I'm looking for a little expert GS advice from the sages. I'm thinking clutch, but could it be related to engine noise and vibration? Could all this point to something more serious? What's normal for this beast?

RIDER: Mathew Chesney

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Try adjusting the valves to see if that quiets things down.  As for the clunky shifts, try using motorcycle oil.  It will also make the engine run quieter.

DATE: August 24, 1998
QUESTION: Clutch cable change how-to - GS750ES

My son has a GS750ES with a broken clutch cable and neither of us have any idea how to replace it with the new one he bought. It looks like there is an adjustment nut on a threaded sleeve which goes into the gearbox. We have tried to unscrew the sleeve, but it has reached a point where further unscrewing just seems to bring forth a 'crack" type noise as if something inside is slipping and nothing else. The cable has a metal bulbous end which I suppose must attach to something inside the gearbox, but of course we cannot get to it. Can you help or do you know of a maintenance book which would address this problem? We have been unable to find any books on the bike at our local bookstores or dealer (he says the bike is obsolete and is not supported).

RIDER: Alan Coombes

REPLY: Frank Perreault
You can find references to purchase manuals in our Links section. 

As for the cable change you will need to remove the gas tank, remove the cotter pin attaching the clutch cable to the clutch release lever lever on the engine.  Unscrew that knurled connector that you were unscrewing before.  Loosen the large clutch adjuster on the handlebars and remove that end of the cable by passing the clutch cable through the slot in the clutch lever.  Memorize the cable routing, pull it out, put the new one in and follow the directions in reverse.
  Billy Ricks
You have to remove the engine cover that the cable runs into. It only covers the countershaft sprocket and there is no gasket or oil involved. There is a linkage inside the cover that the end of the cable slips into. After installing the cable adjust it using the threaded adjuster to obtain 1/8 inch of play at the clutch lever, i.e. a 1/8 inch gap before you feel any pressure on the lever.
  Alan Coombes
Thanks for the reply, but I still have problems. First, I seem to have misquoted the model number of the bike. It is actually a GS700ES not a GS750ES. Our problem seems to be that we cannot remove the clutch cable from the transmission. I don't see any cotter pin or clutch lever, the cable just disappears into the transmission (?) housing. Are the large and small plates supposed to be removed to get at the cable inside? Thanks for your help.
  Sandra Whitney
To replace the clutch cable, you must remove the shift lever and countershaft sprocket cover (on the left side of the engine). Once that cover is off you will see, mounted on the inside of the cover, the ball end of the clutch cable attached to a ramp-type actuator (the other end of the screw which you unscrewed)..

I also have the original Suzuki manual and can e-mail pages if needed.

DATE: August 24, 1998
QUESTION: Valve clearance interval - 1982 GS850L

I have 26,000 KM's on the 850 and it's been 9.000 KM's since the valve clearance has been checked.

Should I rush out to my local Suzuki dealer and have them checked or can I go the rest of the summer. Should put about another 5,000 KM's on her, will this hurt.

Everything works great, other than top end a tad noisy (always been that way since new).

RIDER: Bruce Farris

REPLY: Joe Amidon
Ordinarily I would say, no problem, but I purchased my 81 GS850G last fall with about 22,000 miles on it and didn't check valve clearances until I'd put 4,000 miles on the thing. The valves are adjusted by changing shims of various thickness, so there's nothing to really go out of adjustment, like screws that can loosen. Well, when I got around to checking the clearances, one had zero clearance, and another was actually under some compression! Luckily, no burnt valves. I've only put about 3000 miles on since I adjusted them, but you can be sure I'll keep pretty close tabs on the clearances. This was a bike that had been maintained by a Suzuki shop. The tolerances are quite close, .001"-.003". Suzuki recommends checking the clearances every 6,000 km. I'd follow those recommendations.

DATE: August 1, 1998
QUESTION: Cold running cylinder - 1982 GS1100GLZ

Love your site!
I bought a used 1982 GS1100GLZ five years ago and it's caused lots of trouble, never run real well. The seller was not honest about the bike's past. I'll just mention the problem with the #3 cylinder for now.

At first the bike had a hesitation when throttle was applied. I cleaned and balanced the carbs, cleaned the air filter. Next, new plugs. Then new ignition coils and and wires. None of these fixed the problem. I've used four different coils just in case and because I had them. I noticed that the #3 cylinder was cool to the touch when the other three would be very warm soon after starting. Currently, it starts fine with the choke on but dies if I shut down the choke or twist the throttle. I've always stored the bike in a heated garage with gas stabilizer. Started out this year with fresh gas.

Years ago when I bought it, it sometimes made a metallic pinging sound when sitting at idle. I've never heard piston slap, but if it can be intermittent, then this may have been that sound.

All ideas greatly appreciated.

RIDER: Michael L.Smith

REPLY: Frank Perreault
First, take out the sparkplug for the #3 cylinder, lean it against the engine and turn it over.  Make sure that you are getting spark.  If you are then this confirms things should be fine electrically.  Next you need to verify that there is gas getting to the #3 cylinder.  Try running the bike both with the sparkplug wire on and off.  You should notice an RPM change between the two.  If you don't, then you're not getting fuel.

If neither thing shows up anything then you need to do a compression check on the engine.  This may be a good thing to do anyway since you indicate that you're hearing rapping noises and you don't know how well the bike was treated.

DATE: July 20, 1998
QUESTION: Lack of power - GS550

Can anyone on this group tell me if there is anything that can be done for a Suzuki GS550 to make it's engine more roadworthy? I know 2 people with these and they both struggle to maintain 55 mph on the road. It seems they are over carbureted, the cam timing is way retarded and the ignition is too advanced. The reports by owners indicate a top speed of 75-85 mph. That may be true with the 2 bikes I am familiar with but it would take a long time on a level road to get there. One bike has a Vetter fairing and will not maintain 55 mph in 6th gear on a road with a slight incline. Compression is OK, plugs have good color, I have not checked valve adjustments or cam timing. Does anyone have the cam timing figures for these engines? The valves were supposedly adjusted about 2000 miles ago when the bike was purchased. I have experimented with ignition timing and noticed an improvement in low end power by retarding the timing.

Have I just encountered 2 GS550 bikes with problems or do all of these engines have poor low/mid range performance? It feels like these bikes were intended to run at high rpm but they don't have enough mid range power the higher gears to get to the high end of the power band.

On another note, one bike had the stator and rectifier fail. The regulator portion of the rectifier was still good. (What a poor design, as I recall it used an SCR to tie one stator lead to ground as a means of regulation and then charge $250 for < $20 worth of components). It cost < $15 to build a new bridge rectifier with high wattage diodes from Radio Shack. They were mounted on an aluminum bracket which was placed behind the battery box. I believe we had to remove a tool tray to do this. I believe that for a few dollars more you could add a good zener diode and heat sink and have a better system.

RIDER: Jack Dannenberg

REPLY: Henry Dedrick
I can indeed sympathize, Jack. I have two 1980 GS 550E's (one is a parts bike). My main ride burned a valve at 60K and I had the valves ground, cleaned out the carbon from the piston rings , replaced the intake (carb) boot o-rings, new valve seals, gaskets, etc. It's been about 1500 miles, and it definitely has a pronounced lack of torque below 5500RPM, and it's not that great off the line (1500RPM). I can't authoritatively blame the valve timing, but I checked it when I reassembled it and the exhaust sprocket is 3/16" retarded (I'm working from memory here...)according to the cam timing diagram in the manual.

I talked to the mechanic who ground my valves and he didn't think retarded valve timing was much to worry about, unless it's a tooth off, but there was this article in Motorcycle Consumer News about the significant effects of it from cam chain wear. I haven't eliminated other causes (carb and valve adjustments...or incompetence on the part of "moi"!), so I can't blame this on anything particular.

However, I can assure you that these bikes (at least mine) is torquey enough when running right. I used to commute 40 miles a day S.F.  to San Mateo, Ca on I-280 ("World's Most Beautiful Freeway" don'tchaknow...) so I actually went to a slightly larger rear sprocket to drop the engine speed about 5%. And this thing still used to climb a substantial grade at 70-75MPH at about 5500-6000RPM w/no problems (riding solo). Now I have to keep it at 6000 in 5th on the same grade.

I've been too busy getting my truck to pass a Ca. smog check to do any serious investigating, but if I find anything, I'll pass it on.

DATE: July 20, 1998
QUESTION: Oil cooler - 1982 GS1100L

I saw you two offering advice to Joe Lanfrankie on the GS pages regarding his oil cooler.

May I ask what unit you would recommend for my 82 GS1100L?  The road temps here get into 115-120 degrees, and I have a long drive to work (62 mi), so I wonder sometime if the biek would thank me for a cool one.

RIDER: Steve Schiavo

REPLY: Frank Perreault
The problem is that with the age of the bike that you can't get oil coolers for them any more.  Most are obtained at swap meets which typically means that when you buy it, all the parts aren't there and there are no instructions. etc..  If you can find them, I like Lockhart coolers with the built in thermostat.

DATE: June 27, 1998
QUESTION: Cam chain noises - 1979 GS850

1979 GS850 23,000 miles. I understand that it is a self adjusting cam chain adjuster, but if it is making noise, how do I get rid of it? I have not been fortunate enough to find a book on this bike since my last one was borrowed, and not returned. If there is any info that can be downloaded or read for a quick fix. I would greatly appreciate it.

RIDER: Mike Cheso

REPLY: Frank Perreault
You need to get yourself an new manual.  Barring that, take a look at the various articles in this section regarding cam chains.

DATE: June 27, 1998
QUESTION: Head swap - 1980 GS1000E and 1982 GS1100GK

My friend & I are rebuilding a couple of GS engines & would like some information. The motorcycles are a 1980 GS1000E & a 1982 GS1100GK. We're having difficulty finding aftermarket parts. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated.   Are the heads interchangeable?  Where can we find stainless steel valves, valve springs, etc?  Where can we find Piston Rings?

Great Site!

RIDER: Tomas Harland

REPLY:  Billy Ricks
Vance & Hines.

DATE: June 27, 1998
QUESTION: Head swap - 1985 GS700E/GS750

I recently purchased an '85 GS700E in flawless condition for $1100. The bike had 9K on it. I have been searching high and low for information on exactly what makes this bike any different from the 750.

Now I have broken my timing chain and trashed my cylinder head, and I need to know if a cylinder head from a GS750E will bolt right on. Also, where can I get a timing chain for less than the dealership's $77.50 price? How so you feel about installing used rocker arms? They, too, are expensive at the dealer ($41.95 ea.). Need help getting this baby going again real cheap and fast!

RIDER: Paul Nelson

REPLY:  Billy Ricks
They shortened the stroke to make the 700. You need a 750 crank and rods to make it a 750. The head will bolt right up. There is a slight difference in cam timing, but you should use the 750 cams anyway. If your rocker arms are in good shape you should be alright using them again. Just be careful to keep intake and exhaust separated. I didn't do this once and a couple of rockers got chewed up pretty good. For parts try some of the discount warehouses that advertise in the bike magazines. They usually save you quite a bit.

DATE: June 27, 1998
QUESTION: Piston swap - GS750 1980-1/1983

Did the 83 GS 750 use the same pistons as the 81-82.  If they were all the same did the 85 GS 700 use the same piston.  The bore is the same, just the stroke changed.

RIDER: Billy Ricks

REPLY: Scott Horner
The GS 700/750 pistons will interchange (Suzuki PN 12111-31306), but the 80-83 will not PN 12111-45402. The "T" model in 83 used the earlier pistons.

DATE: June 11, 1998
QUESTION: Oil level question - 1982 GS1100G

When I look at the oil level sight glass on my '82 1100G sometimes the level is OK, and other times it looks as if there is no oil in the machine. I recall this problem when the bike was new. Should I be concerned? Any help would be appreciated.

RIDER: Tony Agliata

REPLY: Frank Perreault
The bike needs to be parked on a level surface, on the tires (not the centerstand), not running and held straight up and down in order to sight the oil level correctly.  If you are measuring after an oil change make sure that you've run, shut off, waited 2 mins., leveled off, run again, shut off and waited 2 mins. before checking it for the final time.  The waiting is to allow the oil from the top end to flow down to the crankcase.
Tony Agliata
Thanks for the reply, but perhaps I should have been more specific. Having followed all of the proper procedures I find that intermittently the oil apparently does not drain down from the top end. I do mean intermittently, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. Any ideas?
Frank Perreault
Other than running oil with such a thick viscosity that when cold it doesn't flow and when warm it does. If this was combined with a blocked up oil filter or gummed up oil passages then that could explain it. Short of that, I have no explanation. I can tell you that there is no way that you could be storing that much oil in the top end though. The top end is designed to drain through the camchain hole.

DATE: May 25, 1998
QUESTION: Oil leaks - 1981 GS850GX

My son has an 81' GS850GX with approx 25k miles. It has an oil leak and I'm not exactly sure where it is leaking. It might be the camshaft chain gasket as the leak is pretty high on the engine.

Do these machines have any inclination to develop leaks at any particular gasket? I'm assuming that the lower the leak is the more expensive it would be to have it replaced.   Also, could it be possible that the bolts in the head need tightening?

RIDER: Chuck Duarte

REPLY: Frank Perreault
You will need to degrease the engine in order to find out where the leak really is coming from.  You can use Gunk Engine Cleaner or Simple Green to clean it up.   No, they don't have anymore of an inclination to leak than any other model.   Usually it leaks due to a lack of proper torque on the head bolts.  You can try retorquing the bolts but usually once the gaskets get soaked, they usually need to be replaced.

And yes, the lower you go, the more expensive it gets.

DATE: May 25, 1998
QUESTION: Mod questions - 1981 GS1100E

GS Resources is a cool place, keep up the good work. I own a 1981 GSX1100E, and am wondering if my bike has the same frame as the Katana from that year.  Why a 1981 Kat has 110hp, and why a GS has 92.6 hp? I heard about rebuilding and welding a crank, should I replace the bearings and the rods when doing this?  Will it last for a long time because I don't want to part from my GS? Can I fit Cosworth, or Wiseco pistons in a regular cylinder block? I have a thousand more questions because my beloved GS died a week ago. Will it ever be as new?

RIDER: Luka Bastic

REPLY: Zack Schultz
>I own a 1981 GSX1100E, and am wondering if my bike has the same frame as the Katana from that year.
Sorry, Dunno.

>Why a 1981 Kat has 110hp, and why a GS has 92.6 hp?
Not entirely sure, but my guess is higher compression, different cams and a freer flowing exhaust. Not as much as an aftermarket pipe because the OEM's still had noise restrictions.

>I heard about rebuilding and welding a crank, should I replace the bearings and the rods >when doing this?
Not BECAUSE you had the crank welded, but as long as you're taking it to that step, it will help the longevity of the motor.

>Will it last for a long time because I don't want to part from my GS?
The GS engines were and still are the building blocks for many a drag bike. Proper care will keep it running a long time.

>Can I fit Cosworth, or Wiseco pistons in a regular cylinder block?
Yes, if they have a kit. Most of these kits require an overbore. Find a shop that can drill a straight and round hole. Just don't trust it to anyone that claims to know how to run a boring bar. V&H has a lot of experiance with the GS engines before they left for Yamaha and Ducati.

>I have a thousand more questions because my beloved GS died a week ago. Will it ever be >as new?
Most likely, but you make it sound like it needs a little work.

REPLY: Scott Horner
No, your frame is quite different form the Katana.  I don't know where you are located, but there are a only a few crank builders in the US that I recommend.   If you want another 15+ years out of your beloved 81, I suggest having the crank disassembled and checked.  It is very common to have the center two bearings go bad.   The rods should be fine, rarely do they need replacing.  A complete disassembly/rebuild, and having the crank trued and welded (it was neither from the factory) will run you $300-$350 US + parts. Please feel free to contact me.  Good Luck!

On your piston question, the following make kits to install in your stock block.   MTC, JE, Arias, Wiseco, and possibly Cosworth.  1198cc is the largest you can install in the stock cyl. sleeves, but the kits are only available in 13.5:1 or 8:1 (turbo) compression ratio.  The most popular is the 1168cc or 75mm.  I can provide you with any of these kits if needed (I'm not sure on the Cosworth though).   Thanks!  

DATE: May 25, 1998
QUESTION: Crank swap - GS1100/GS1150

Does the 1150 crankshaft fit the 1981 GS1100E?

RIDER: Luka Bastic

REPLY: Scott Horner
The cranks are interchangeable with the following exceptions.  The 1150 has 20mm wrist pins (1100 18mm).  The "big end", where the rotor assembly mounts for the charging system is 29mm, the 83 1100 had the same size end but used a different starter gear (the 1150 starter is different from all 1100's).  You may however, install the entire 83 1100 rotor assy. on the 1150 crank or just swap out the starter gear.  If you are looking for either crank I have some for sale.  Good Luck!

DATE: May 25, 1998
QUESTION: Head swap - GS750/GS1xxx

Has anybody ever attempted, completed, or heard about putting a GS1000-1150 (2 or 4 valve) topend on a 750 bottom end?  I would like to try this if it is possible.   What all would be involved?  Do things bolt up correctly with little machine work?  HELP!!  Thanks.

RIDER: Alan Summers

REPLY: Scott Horner
The swap could be done with some machine work, but the results would be not what you were looking for.  The liter size cyl. heads have too large of a combustion chamber which would drop the compression ratio greatly ( shaving as little as .020-.040 off the head will RAISE the compression ratio approx. one half point for example).   The larger combustion chamber will also affect flame travel, whereas the chamber is too large for the pistons design.  As if that was not enough, a stock 750 would suffer from the larger valves and intake/exhaust ports.  The liter head flows more in theory, but the 750 will not allow enough port velocity allowing the head to flow efficiently.  Your best bet is to drop a 1100 or 1150 motor right into your 750 chassis.  The only thing you will need to fabricate is the lower mid motor mounts.   Good Luck! 

DATE: May 25, 1998
QUESTION: Blowing air - 1979 GS850G

I am the (un)happy owner of a 79 GS 850 G. I now have a problem, there is blowing "air" out of the oil refilling hole. Do I have a big problem or what ??   Any help would be greatly appreciated.

RIDER: Ivan Damborg Jensen

REPLY: Zack Schultz
If I'm reading the question correctly, if you pull the oil filler cap, you have air blowing out the hole? That means there is excessive pressure in the crankcase. The only time I saw this was when one (or more) cylinder had really bad rings which forced the compression into the cases. In fact, one bike had holes in two pistons which had a real bad case of blowby. Of course, it ran like crap and you don't mention that. First do a compression check and go from there.
Scott Horner
If, in fact, your bike runs satisfactory, you may not have a problem.  A compression check is a quick way to determine any problems with cylinder and/or valve seal.  A leakdown or cylinder differential test (same thing, different terms) will pin point the problem area.  Back to your situation, there is a tremendous amount of windage created in that area due to the rotating crank and the clutch assembly which is spinning just below the oil filler hole.  That may be confused with a much larger problem.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions.  Good Luck!    

DATE: May 17, 1998
QUESTION: Oil cooler questions - 1980 GS1100E

I have a question regarding the possibility of adding an oil cooler to my bike.  I have two (2) Lockhart Model 400 oil coolers and would like to plumb them into my oil return system.  What would be the most effective way to run the oil lines?

RIDER: Joel Mayberry

REPLY: Frank Perreault
The Lockhart coolers come originally with parts to divert oil flow through the oil gallery plugs on the front of the engine.  You will need those diverter plugs and the oil line fittings that replace the bolts on the front of the engine.  If you don't have them then contact co-editor Bill Chandler since he recently had to do some customizing to accomplish the same thing.
Zack Schultz
Is there an external pressurized (as opposed to a return) line on that engine? If so, go to the auto parts store and procure some braided steel lines and banjo fittings - don't forget the crush washers. Install the oil cooler(s) in series with the external line. Rig a bracket to mount it to the frame rails where there is air flow. I don't recommend drilling the frame for mounting, but you should be able to rig some 'U' bolts etc.

On my GS550, their is a factory oil cooler and the lines run from the oil pan. I don't recall how the internals work to assure pressure up to the cooler.

DATE: May 2, 1998
QUESTION: Retarded timing - 1982 GS1100E

I have an '82 1100E. A friend who recently spent some time talking to a Kawasaki factory service rep was enlightened on how much the factory cams are retarded in the name of emissions. He claimed 10hp can be gained on a newer Kaw sport bike just by slotting the cam sprocket bolt holes and degreeing in the cams. Any feel for what kind of gains could be realized on my GS? If so, how much advance to go with on each cam? Thanks for your help.

RIDER: David Loberg

REPLY: Zack Schultz
The cams are retarded in the name of emissions. You've heard the term overlap? That's when both valves are open at the same time. Dynamics of the situation are such that almost all of the incoming charge is maintained in the cylinder, but some gets out. The less time open together, the less pollution. It is possible to get more HP out of degreeing the cams, but more noticeable is the 'quality' of the horsepower. In other words, you can force the engine to breathe more effectively at the top end at the expense of midrange and vice versa. On a modern (90's) engine, you would be pushing to get 10 hp without any other changes. On your 82, the cam profiles are such that it would be more likely since those engines weren't as highly tuned from the factory. Look for info on degreeing cams before starting on this. It's simple and straight forward, but tedious.
Scott Horner
For a starting point on your 1100 try 107 degree lobe centers on both in and ex cams.   That should give you a good strong even pull across the power band with alittle extra in the upper low to low mid range. Good Luck! 

DATE: April 16, 1998
QUESTION: Tranny grinding noises, cam ticking sounds - GS1100ES(D)

My bike ('84 GSX1100ES(D)) has a similar problem: It also makes grinding/moaning noises when driving in 5th under load, but the noise apparently stops over 3500 rpm.   Because of the torque the engine has, I would like to drive 2.5 to 3k rpm when cruising, especially when the engine hasn't warmed up. As I can't stand noises that shouldn't be, now I don't.

My other problem is that my cam ticks, even after adjusting the valves. The mechanic who did this said there's a small piece of chrome off one of the cams. The ticking is louder with the engine warm, sometimes with the cold engine I don't hear it at all, sometimes I do.

Need I worry:
- for the camshaft
- for the camshaft bearings and other stuff out/in there
- for the rest of the engine (it still runs fine)

Could I replace the cam with a used one, and which types of GS's could I borrow from? Same for new ones: are there aftermarket cams I should look at? Although I'm not (yet) into tuning the engine the feeling of upgrading the bike makes me feel less sorry for the money I spend on it.

Thanks for taking time.

RIDER: Maurice van der Sterren

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Grinding noises in the tranny are usually caused by bad bearings.  There is no easy way to confirm this without a total teardown of the engine.  With the chrome flaking off of the cam lobes there is always the danger that the fleck will get caught up in some place it shouldn't.  It sounds like a replacement is in store.   I don't know what bikes you can borrow a cam from or what aftermarket companies sell them.  I always replace parts with original equipment in those areas.   Perhaps someone else can give you a hand with that information.
Zack Schultz
Megacycle makes cams for most applications. You can also try Yoshimura. It's best to call for suggestions.

DATE: April 10, 1998
QUESTION: Head gasket - GS400E

The  engine in my 1984 GS400E leaks oil from the head gasket. I bought the bike last summer.  Mid summer I found that the 6 mm bolt at the front of the engine between the exhaust ports was missing and that the gasket had pushed out a bit. I tried to push the gasket back in place and replaced the bolt with one I bought.

Could this 6 mm bolt have vibrated loose? Is the gasket this bolt goes through the head gasket or a separate gasket?  It is a paper gasket BTW.

RIDER: Jeffrey Richard

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Yes, it vibrated loose and yes, it goes through the head gasket.

DATE: March 22, 1998
QUESTION: Rattles and carb sync problems - GS750

I've got a GS750, not sure of the model, nor its year, except it was imported into the UK in 1978. Overall its pretty good, and in the past year I've done around 5000 miles on it. However, I have a couple of problems, that I hope someone can point me in the right direction. Now though I'm uncertain, the previous owner told me that its been taken out to 850cc, and has hot cams in it. When the engine is cold, it sounds spot on, however when it gets up to running temperature, at tickover, it sounds like a bag of spanners being rattled. The rattle is more of a ring than a rattle, and comes and goes as the bike sits there. Even when not rattling, its not as smooth as when its cold. I appreciate that the oil is thinner when hot. With a piece of wood, I've listened to the cams, the cylinders, the clutch housing, but have been unable to locate the source. From reading this list previously I understand that there can be a problem with the clutch cage, but with the wood pressed hard against the clutch housing, it doesn't seem to come from there. Listening to the cams, and should they be "hot" I expect them to be a little lumpy, but they sound fine, and do not knock as such. What I would say is that it does seem to be getting any worse over the past 6000 miles since I bought it, and I know it was like it before I bought it. One think I considered, if it has indeed been bored out, is piston slap, from shortened pistons.

My second problem, which may be slightly related is that I cannot balance the carbs. Or I should say, when I get them balanced, the engine's tickover is screaming at about 3000rpm. Despite slackening off the throttle cable, and the tickover adjustment so the carbs hit hard against the throttle stops, with the adjuster screw totally removed.. again any suggestions
would be appreciated. Although the tickover was far far too high, the engine response was far improved, and I've had to artificially unbalance the carbs, just to be able to ride the bike. This of course will not help the bike run too smoothly at tickover.   Although the bike has a none standard exhaust system, and K&N's , plug colour is about spot on.

I'm also concerned about the top speed, which tops out at about a 90, though rolling off the gas, this creeps up to about a ton. Many thanks!

RIDER: Tony Else

REPLY: Zack Schultz
A couple of ideas. I had a similar noise on my 550. Turns out that when I put the header back on, I didn't get one of the bolts on tight and the header was slapping against the manifold. Sounded like a REALLY bad rod knock. Another possibility is that the header gaskets where left out when the pipe was installed or 2 sets are in there. Most times, they don't come with the pipe and there are sometimes they are left off.

Carb sync. I suspect that you're running lean on top. When you let the throttle off, extra gas (as compared to running) gets in the cylinder and the engine runs better. But you said the plug color is right. Since you mention that it has cams out of an 850, I'll bet the profiles are different than stock and causing a problem that looks like carburetion. Check that the cams are degreed close to stock and work from there.

DATE: March 8, 1998
QUESTION: Oil cooler for a GS1100

Is there an oil cooler available for GS1100's, is it a Suzuki part or after market, where can I get them from and where and how do I go about plumbing it into the engine?

RIDER: Bruce Roy

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Oil coolers for GS1100's are no longer made.  Because of the specialized pieces it takes to connect the cooler to the bike you'd probably do better looking for a junked bike.  If you go that route, make sure to get any parts that you may need that are possibly hidden behind the oil filter cover.  Finally, one of the GS Resources co-editors Bill Chandler recently went put an oil cooler on his bike.  You may want to contact him to see if he has any sources.

DATE: January 30, 1998
QUESTION: Tweaking the camchain tensioner

There's a big adjusting-looking knob on the cam chain tensioner, it's just begging to be fine tuned, but I can't find anything in the Clymer manual telling me to or how to turn this knob. I want to turn this knob! Should I?

RIDER: Joseph Brennan

REPLY: Frank Perreault
No!  There is a reason for it being called a self-adjusting camchain tensioner - because that's what it does.  If you have the correct manual for your bike, it should talk about how to properly handle the tensioner.
Zack Schultz
Let's not forget that there is a locknut on the tensioner that is tightened when you need to disassemble the engine so the adjuster doesn't just run all the way in. It's spring loaded so if you give it a bit of a turn without putting any effort into it, it should spring back. Which direction is dependent - just don't force it. If it doesn't move either direction, back off the locknut a little and try again.

DATE: December 17, 1997
QUESTION: What is a '850 kit' for a 750?

I have a '78 GS 750. Recently I've seen a couple of ads for GS 750's with an "850 kit". Is this the top end of a GS 850, an aftermarket top end or...? Anyone have an idea what the cost of parts is?


In further researching the question, I e-mailed Wiseco Piston Co. and got the following reply from David Traina <>:

Bill , if you have a 4 valve motor Wiseco has a 816cc big bore kit that retails for $435.75 , if you have a 2 valve motor Wiseco has a 844cc kit that retail for $ 419.23 both kits are for inline 4 motors. If you would like a catalogue please provide a mailing address.

I also got a reply from a guy who had done the installation. He said that it was fun and interesting, but not practical. In my case, the kit costs more than I paid for the entire bike!

DATE: December 17, 1997
QUESTION: Final check before liftoff (refer to Possible Engine Damage)

I have finally finished the assembly of my 79 GS550L. I was going to fire her up tomorrow, but I was going to ask you a few pointers. (BTW, I was the one who asked you if I was going to have any problems after my friend tipped over my engine when I took it out of the frame.)
Ed: refer to Possible Engine Damage.

I know it's not going to start right up, but is there anything I should look forward too, maybe look closely at while she is turning over and after she is running? (besides the obvious possible oil leak and nasty exhaust)

Also, I am having a problem with my front brake. Everything is fine except the handlebar master cylinder. The plunger is moving, and when I cover the hole that the line connects too, it holds a pressure, but I cannot get any brake fluid into it. I cannot bleed the brakes and get the calipers to press.. Do you have any suggestions before I have to plop down a couple bucks?

RIDER: Matt Reyes

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Oh ye of little faith. If you've done things OK and you prime the carbs before attempting to turn it over using fresh gas, it should fire right up. After all, we're talking a GS here! Remember, fresh battery, fresh plugs, fresh gas.

So you're saying that you squeeze the brake handle and you get no resistance in the lever? If so, it sounds like you'll have to rebuild the master cylinder. This shouldn't be "that" expensive to do.
Matt Reyes
I am going to check it out right now. I got the brake problem fixed. The littlest hole in the fluid well was plugged up, and I took a wire to get it clear and boiled it up to get rid of all the ancient gunk. After that, it worked like a charm.. So then I tried to start her up, but no luck. I went to see if gas was getting to the carburetors by opening up one of the brass screws, but It fell out and I can't seem to find it now, so I am delayed again.... I will tell you if I got it up and running. Thank You yet again for being so helpful..
Matt Reyes
Well, Frank, I guess I can blame this on inexperience and plain ignorance. I got her running today :)

The petcock on the gas tank has two hoses to it, one of which is an air hose that allows the gas to flow into the carbs. Well, it seems that that hose, which I initially felt didn't need to be replaced, had a crack in it that was preventing the vacuum to allow the gas to flow. My brother suggested I change the fuel line to clear hose so I could see if it was even making it in.. That gave it away..

And so I hit 92 mph going south on US 441 in Gainesville, Florida, and even when I stopped and the wind was calm, the smile didn't leave my face. I'll be registering tonight, And I hope to have some pics scanned this January. Take care, and until next time, Thank YOU!

DATE: December 17, 1997
QUESTION: Cam chain changing on a GS1000G

Is it possible to change the cam chain on my beloved ol' 1983 GS1100G without ripping the engine apart. I have an original factory manual and it is even a little vague with a tear-down. Also can the friction material be changed on the cam chain tensioner by just unbolting it and withdrawing the mechanism, again without a complete tear down. (Riding here in Hawaii is tough, but shucks, someone's gotta do it)

RIDER: Ken Barton

REPLY: Frank Perreault
The factory cam chain comes as one unit that has no master link, therefore you would need to dismantle the engine in order to replace it. I have heard that there are cam chains available that have a master link and this would be the only way that you could replace the chain without having to rip things apart.

As for the factory manual being vague, I have found that all the information is there, it's just that it is scattered all over the book, with no logic to it. The bottom line is that the crankshaft has to be removed in order to install a continuous cam chain.

As for the friction material, you've got me there. There is no friction material anywhere on the tensioner that I know. If you are talking about the gasket material for the tensioner, then yes, the tensioner can be removed. Be sure to follow the directions in your manual for proper removal and installation.
Ken Barton
Hi Frank, thanks again for the help re: cam chain. As to the tensioner "friction material" , my mistake! Just jumped to the conclusion there was some kind of sacrificial material the chain rode against.
Frank Perreault
Well, there is a sacrificial 'piece' so to speak. It is called the rear cam chain guide but it would be extremely difficult to see whether it needs replacement or not without ripping the engine apart since it sits so low in the engine. Looking at the front cam chain guide might give you an idea of how bad the rear is wearing, but not necessarily.

This may be one reason that Suzuki didn't use a cam chain with a master link. They want to sell you an expensive engine assembly gasket kit and they also want you to check ALL the cam chain components when replacing the chain. After all, if your changing the cam chain the engine has seen some real miles or some serious abuse.
Ken Barton
Hmmmm, displayed my ignorance again, cam chain is probably all right (re: your comments) and the noise I am hearing is the adjuster is not properly taking up slack. I did buy the bike used but it does not have that thrashed look and feel abused bikes do. The rods and mains, piston slap etc. are dead quiet so just assumed (bad habit!) the chain was whipping around.

Am finding I can't apply 3 1/2 Chevy logic to motorcycles. Shoulda attended "Motorcycle Diagnostics 101".

REPLY: Frank Perreault
Yes, in some cases the chain can stretch but since the GS (especially the 1100) is built for racing, it isn't often that the chain does stretch. If you pop off the valve cover and put tension on the the chain, does it feel real sloppy? If so, then I would go with the adjuster not working properly.

It's true you can't apply "All" that Chevy engine knowledge to the GS engine, but you can carry over alot of it. ;-)
Michael Dixon
I was reading the correspondence you have been having with Frank Perreault about your 1100G's cam chain.

Although it sounds as though you may not need to change yours, I thought that you may be interested that I have successfully changed the cam chain on my 850G without doing a full strip-down, by replacing it with a new chain (with a joining link that is held in place by deforming the end of the pins). These are available from a general engineering supplier, rather than a bike shop.

The procedure was:
(1) Remove only the tank and cam cover to expose the cam chain, and very carefully grind the ends of the pins off one link to split the old chain (making sure the grindings don't get all down through the engine)
(2) Join the new chain to the old one with the new joining link and wire it closed (very important!!!)
(3) Say a few prayers to whatever god you feel is appropriate so that the wire does not come off and rotate the engine by hand to feed the new chain in and pull the old one out
(4) join the two ends of the new chain with the joining link, and get your mate/girlfriend/trained monkey to hold a big hammer behind the joining link while you deform the pin ends with a punch.
(5) Reset the cam timing, box it up and relax with a few beers.

Oh yes - make sure you disable the automatic tensioner before you start, otherwise you could end up stripping the engine to find the end of the bloody chain anyway :-)

The whole process can be done in a couple of hours, if you know what you're doing - so you can get back on the road again (You would know all about riding year-round in Hawaii, as we do in NZ. ;-))

I replaced the cam chain on mine when it had done about 100 000km, and it has done about another 30 000km since without problems.

DATE: December 17, 1997
QUESTION: Excessive camshaft wear & leaky camchain tensioner on a 1981 GS850

I am rebuilding my 850 top end and found 1 exhaust lobe under the wear limit. Is this unusual? The cam is not scored or discolored. Can I use a 750 cam as I have a 1977 GS-750 donor motor? Pistons, cylinders and cam chain look fine. I am going to replace rings, gaskets and valve guide seals.

Is there an updated cam chain tensioner as mine leaks oil everywhere. The bike is a 1981 and has 26,000 miles.


REPLY: Frank Perreault
If you are talking a ton of difference between that one lobe and the rest, then yes, there is a problem. If it's minor (a few thousands), then it's normal wear. Check the valve clearances before dismantling the cam assembly to see if that one valve was improperly adjusted. Once things are disassembled, check the valve spring tension on all the valve springs.

Remember, do not mix the parts as you are removing them from the bike. Keep Cylinder 1 parts separated from Cylinder 2 etc. and make sure that the correct cylinder parts go into the correct places.

As for the cam chain tensioner, no I don't believe that there is a replacement. Mine leaks a little also and I've never got it to stop either.

DATE: November 19, 1997
QUESTION: Possible engine damage?

I have a '79 550E that is currently completely disassembled as I have taken the liberty to powder coat the frame. I had the engine sitting on a 12 inch high milk crate, which for the past month had seemed steady enough to support it's weight..

My clumsy friend accidentally bumped into the engine block while I was away this weekend. It fell over forward, and by that I mean in slipped and landed exhaust holes first, and continued to roll over ending up on top of the now completely flat odometer/speedometer line. He decided that it would be in his best interest to leave it alone, as he is very scrawny and weak ;) It stayed upside-down for 2 days.

I am very scared. It was running well, not in the best of shape, but I am restoring-customizing it anyway. I looked all over, and there aren't any dents or major scratches, except of course the ruined cable connecting screw-thing (I hope you know what I am referring too, the aluminum screw on the line that links the line to the engine.) The oil had been completely drained a month ago, and all this took place inside a dry, clean place.

If you or anybody can give me any insight on what I should be expecting once she is back together, (preventive measures too), PLEASE DO! Thank You.

RIDER: Matthew F. Reyes

REPLY: Frank Perreault
I don't believe you should have any major problems here. I would however recommend 1) keeping your clumsy friend away from your bike, 2) replacing the tachometer cable and 3) replacing the oil filter and oil before you start it up. If you do that, you shouldn't have any problems.

Just as a note, you mentioned the speedometer cable getting flattened. I believe you mean the tachometer cable instead.

DATE: November 19, 1997
QUESTION: The invisible oil guzzler

I have a GS400. It's about 19 years old but in very good condition. BUT it DRINKS my oil like a thirsty German drinks beer (with sausages). It doesn't leak anywhere. Do you know what might be wrong with it?

RIDER: Alex Firioubine

REPLY: Frank Perreault
It sounds like you need to perform a compression check on the engine. Oil doesn't just disappear. It's either on the ground, all over the engine or in the tailpipe, particularly if oil consumption is that high. My guess is that its going out the tailpipe since you can't see it, though you should see the bike smoking. So do a compression check and see what you get.

DATE: Sept 9, 1996
QUESTION: Compression, 85 GS750EF

I know mine is a little newer than the ones covered on your page (1985) but I've just recently bought it and found that it's burning a little oil. Had a compression test done on it and got

Cyl Dry Wet
1 150 185
2 130 195
3 120 175
4 135 190

I'm thinking of doing the rings and whatnot this winter in my garage and am looking for opinions and a shop manual ( the new price is $80! ), any help you can give would be greatly appreciated! Thanx,


REPLY: Frank Perreault
I'd take a look at having a valve job done first. The number 3 cylinder seems to be causing the problem. The fact that the reading didn't improve in relation to the other cylinders wet, indicates a valve problem, not rings.

DATE: February 16, 1996
QUESTION: My 1982 GS750TZ weeps oil!

My 1982 GS750TZ weeps oil from the head gasket occasionally. It seems to occur only when I ride it on cold days, 30-45 degrees. It is not enough oil to be measurable in the sight glass, just enough to make a mess. Should I try to torque the heads? ignore it? The bike has 18K miles. Thanks

RIDER: Greg Traxler

REPLY: Michael Saxon
Torquing the heads is a good idea. Be sure to use the diagram in the manual to determine the order in which you untorque and then retorque the head bolts, and use a good torque wrench.




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