Page last modified: 02/28/14
1980 GS1000G review
by Jim Thacker
Specifications: 996cc Inline 4cyl.
Drivetrain: Five Speed Transmission, Shaft Drive
Horsepower: 88rwhp @ 8500rpm (est.)
Brakes: Dual disk brake (front) Single disk (rear)
Front Tire: Rear Tire: (Dunlop Elite II)
Weight: 558lbs (wet, ½ tank of gas, certified scale)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 5.2 Gallons.
Instruments: Speedometer (85mph) Tachometer, lights for oil pressure, high beam, neutral, turn signals, and 12345 gear indicator lights. Fuel gauge, trip odometer.
I was lucky enough to find the bike in stock, nearly new condition in 1999! The engine had been replaced at a dealer with a NEW unit 4,000 miles earlier. Since acquiring the bike I have ridden 3000 miles in all conditions, and have made a few modifications. When purchased the brakes were very soft due to twenty year old brake lines and fluid, I changed the fluid and installed stainless lines. This bike replaced a stock 79 GS-850g that had developed engine problems, as I write this comparisons are fresh in my mind.
Although the 1000g is a heavy bike, it doesn't feel ponderous once it's moving. While providing a pleasant ride, it's not nimble. When compared to the 850g it seems to take more effort to turn and lean and is a little less confidence inspiring when pushed hard in a corner. I suspect this is due to the slight difference in fork "rake" between the bikes. Power delivery is outstanding. It is stable, once on a line it stays there faithfully. From 2000 to 8000 rpm's plus the power delivery is smooth and brisk. The only glitch I've noticed happens when you open the throttle fast from 3500 rpm or so. There is a "flat spot" for literally a second where the bike accelerates slowly before taking off like a banshee. This is characteristic of over carburetion. From looking at the carbs I can believe it, the bores appear 30% larger than the carburetor bores of the 850g or the stock carbs on a 1000e. After a little research and a look inside a rack of identical carbs, I took a trip to my local "super tuner." He confirmed my suspicion, these pots aren't very tunable. After riding it he declared them as close as "there 'gonna get" and sent me on my way. Actually the glitch isn't particularly annoying, once the power starts coming on ,you have to be careful it streaks from 60 to 100mph. Kissing the tank, I imagine it would top out at 135+ but I won't try it. With the above mentioned steel braided lines and fresh fluid and pads the brakes are truly prodigious, equal in most respects to sport-touring bikes fifteen years younger. An over eager grip on the front brake will actually lock the wheel! Normal stops are accomplished with a single finger on the lever. I'm sure it would do "stoppies" if I would.
Cornering is predictable and stable at all speeds. The shaft is less forgiving than a chain. The gobs of torque effect and differential "wrap up" takes a little getting used to. When powering through a corner at high speeds the rear feels like it's pushing more than a chain drive. Adding to much throttle in a turn can make the bike feel like it's trying to "stand up" not a great feeling. Take care at slow speeds as the torque supplied at low rpm's can be dangerous when pulling out of a driveway with the handlebars turned or driving in a parking lot. Ground clearance is adequate for a sport-touring or commuter bike. First to touch down is the center stand followed quickly by the foot pegs. From previous experience I know the tips of the pipes will grind next. Don't do it, even with good modern tires your near the edge.
As a commuter, the bike never lets you forget it's a big one. Big is OK as it's very comfortable. On longer trips it's very well behaved. With the abundance of power and a really big seat, pillion riding is no problem. Both my 125lb wife and my 210lb son say it the most comfortable bike they have ridden pillion on. The major drawback is the "sit up and beg" angle of the stock handle bars. When riding the bike "naked" it gets tiring pretty quick. (see fairing). Riding position is good for most people. I'm 5'8" tall and I can touch both feet flat on the ground stopped, I have a 6' 6" friend that says it fits him just as well. There is more vibration than my 850g had, but it's not annoying, this may be specific to both individual bikes. Gas mileage isn't great, 38mpg highway, which works out to 170 miles or so before switching to reserve. It's very easy exceed speed limits for long periods of time so be careful, the California Highway Patrol takes a dim view of cruising the highways at 90+.
The only modifications I have made have been the additions of soft bags, an old Vetter trunk, and a Rifle Sport Faring. The Rifle was a great mod. The fatigue from the wind is completely gone, noise is down 50% and mileage went up a couple of miles per gallon on the highway.
If you find a good one Buy it! The GS 1000g is reliable, fast, comfortable and entertaining enough to be an "only bike". As my "commuter bike" with around town shopping jaunts and thirty mile "mind clearing" rides thrown in it almost perfect. If I want to scare myself to death I can always roll out it's garage mate, my "hot rod" GS 1000e. When I want to "get there" comfortably and quietly I fork the GS 1000g.