1982 Suzuki GS850

Summary:

Legendary air cooled 4 cylinder tourer

Faults:

Silencers rotted through when I bought it.

No air filters fitted when I bought it.

Slight but persistent oil leak from rev cable connection on cylinder head at 19 000 miles; eventually cured with instant gasket compound.

Speedo drive in front wheel gave up at 35 000 miles.

Seat required recovering at around 35 000 miles.

Pistons in front brake calipers were badly pitted and were replaced at 25 000 miles.

All brake hoses perished and replaced with braided hoses at 25 000 miles.

Seems to cook batteries if run without lights switched ON. I modified the wiring to allow lights to be turned off to cure poor starting (US model GS850 GLZ has no lights on/off switch as standard)

General Comments:

This bike was in a sorry state when I first rescued it from a back garden in 2001 where it had laid for 3 years, but fired into life immediately after a carb strip down & clean up, a fresh battery, 4 new plugs and a gallon of fresh petrol, testament to the bullet proof nature of these legendary tourers.

The GLZ or L model is more of a custom style cruiser than the standard UK G model, but as it shares the same engine, I knew I couldn't go far wrong. Not as smooth as the V4 Honda I'd previously owned, but far more reliable, comfier, more economical and has much more character.

I've covered 25 000 miles on a 26 year old bike in six years, and it has never let me down, except when I dragged it out of the garage last year after the winter to find the battery was knackered, but that's only to be expected really.

Basic maintenance is just that - basic - change the oil & filters regularly, replace the plugs now and again and that's about it. Try to keep the engine 'full' of oil rather than let the level drop to the minimum mark, or they tend to give the regulator rectifier a hard time. And DO run them with the headlights on all the time; the regulator rectifier puts out too much power for the battery otherwise.

Suzuki replaced the GS with their V4 (the GSV Madura in Europe), but we never saw it over here in the UK, what a shame.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th April, 2008

13th Jun 2008, 14:03

Glad to hear that someone else likes this bike. I am getting ready to replace the clutch pack and was wondering if anyone has any tips? Also, what is the expected gas mileage in top condition with the average speed of 70mph?

1979 Suzuki GS850

Summary:

Superb

Faults:

When I bought this bike it had been dry stored in a heated garage for twenty odd years, and although in mint condition, both silencers had rusted on the underside. These I replaced with a pair of SITO pattern silencers, which actually seemed to be of better quality than the originals.

They also sounded better than the originals without being noisy.

General Comments:

Having owned almost sixty bikes from 1960 until now, this is my favourite for smooth, comfortable and completely reliable riding.

Wherever I go, people admire it and can't believe how old it is.

My wife agrees it's the most comfortable bike she has ever ridden pillion on.

Because it's the first version of this model, it has contact breaker points and coil ignition, which makes maintenance easy with no fears about ignitor suddenly dying in the middle of nowhere.

Only problem with this bike for me is that the seat is a tad high for my short legs, making slow speed manoeuvring a tad scary! But that's my fault, not the bikes.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st January, 2008

1979 Suzuki GS850

Summary:

Inexpensive, classic, reliable and fun

Faults:

Nothing in six months of ownership.

I tidied/re-soldered the electrics, as some of the joints looked dry.

General Comments:

By modern standards this is a heavy bike.

It is a great long distance tourer, and has a bullet-proof feel to it.

Shaft drive is great to have.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st September, 2007

1980 Suzuki GS850

Summary:

A solid workhorse with bags of character

Faults:

Head gasket replaced at 20000 miles.

Electronic ignition replaced with a Dyna unit at 22000 miles.

Front and rear springs replaced at 25000 miles.

Seat cover replaced at 25000 miles.

Tank re-painted at 29000 miles.

General Comments:

I have loved every minute of owning this bike (GS850GT).

A great machine for touring or long journeys (takes a few miles to warm up).

Heavy, well-built and solid feel - should last forever if looked after. Bulletproof motor, which gives good torque at low revs and ample power at higher speeds. Sounds good as well!

Handles well with a passenger or heavy load.

A bit of a handful on twisty roads, but at ease on the highway.

Shaft drive is well-designed - no problems as long as you grease the splines every time the tyre is changed.

Gearbox is smooth - don't even need to use the clutch when running up the gears.

Cheap to run - 55 to 60 mpg.

Who could ask for more?

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th February, 2007

9th Nov 2014, 00:26

I have two of these bikes, a '79 and an '82. The '79 blew a head gasket at 70 thousand miles and I parked it and bought the '82, which I ride every day. I've seen no mention in the various comments regarding valve adjustment. I've gone 15 thousand on the '82 without tending to this, and it's still running as smooth as ever, but I'm thinking I ought to do it soon.

I disagree with the comment that these bikes get "50 or 60 MPG". I normally get 38, day in and day out, mix of freeway and surface street driving. I could believe someone's getting low to mid 40's with a perfectly tuned bike and not a lot of stop and go.

These are really great bullet-proof motorcycles.