1983 Suzuki GS450E


Great starter bike, or commuter


I bought this motorcycle in non-running condition, but quickly found the problem... the previous owner attempted to replace a head gasket, and put the valve shims back in the wrong place. After switching them around, the bike ran great, and has been for quite some distance.

Let's face it, the stock brakes just plain suck. They may have worked well in 1983, but everybody I know complains about the "spongy lever" feeling. They don't exactly stop the bike too well either. No problem, the front fork from nearly any Suzuki from 250cc up to at least 850cc built during the '80s will drop right in. I replaced the entire front fork with one from an '84 GS550ES.

A 16 inch wheel (instead of 18 inch) makes steering the bike at speeds above 40mph much easier... I'd say it makes it into a completely different bike.

The dual front brakes with opposed piston calipers easily stop the bike faster than any car that may be tailgating you... be careful!

The hydraulic anti-dive system is a blessing as well. It turns a 3 to 4 inch brake dive into almost nothing. While the electric system on later models has some advantages, they both do the same thing.

Voila! 90% of the problems with the GS450 are solved with 100 bucks, and a free Saturday. Can't go wrong with that.

Although I haven't ridden it for long, I take it on long trips. However, I haven't ridden it that far either. I haven't had any problems with the bike that led me to major repair... nothing more than having to adjust the idle speed and clutch on occasion.

General Comments:

This may be a low-repair bike, but it's definitely high-maintenance. It requires frequent oil and filter changes, being every 1,500 miles mostly city driving, but can be held off to 3,000 miles if you take it really easy on long highway trips.

The clutch pushrod and cable needs to be checked and adjusted frequently; best to do that once a month.

The chain needs to be adjusted every 500 miles or less... seems like every time I stop for gas, I end up adjusting the damn chain. A racing chain would probably take care of that problem, but it won't clear the tire (I'll get to that later).

A "well known" problem for this bike is the regulator/rectifier going south. However, I feel that has more to do with the battery going dry, than faulty equipment. The battery will lose electrolyte quickly, keep it topped off!!

Another "problem" is the stator burning up. I heard about this when I got the bike, and decided to check it while I was working on the engine. It was covered with burned oil on the bottom, and fine at the top. Seems to me the engine oil is used to help keep the charging components cool, and most people don't check the oil level often enough. Since the stator is on the right side of the engine, I will not idle the bike on the side stand, it will let the oil drain away from it. I figure if the oil is kept clean and fresh, the stator won't accumulate burned oil on it, which is definitely a contributing factor to failure.

Although most people complain the bike has lame torque, I find it has plenty of power past 6K. It's fast enough to do anything a car can, and get 60+mpg too.

The rear suspension is outdated (obviously), and the twin shocks give no room for mounting saddlebags. With a grinder, and some clever welding, the full floater aluminum swingarm from the previously mentioned GS550 fits in there really nice. The adjustable preload and hydraulic disc brake are also a big plus. This leaves two bolts sticking out of the frame where saddlebag mounts can be fastened (with more bolts elsewhere, of course). It also makes room for a heavy-duty racing chain, which allows adjustment to be dealt with every oil change, not every fill-up.

All in all, I'd say it's a decent looking bike to begin with, it's too bad this model was only available in this country for one year (the 1983 model is WAY different from the previous years).

Suzuki obviously refused to even look at it, much less do any work to it (they won't even replace a tire for me). They are more than willing to sell me parts for it, they seem to have hordes of vintage parts stashed away somewhere.

I liked it when it was completely original, but upgrading key components made it so much better. It's a really easy bike to work on and tinker with. That makes it perfect in my book.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th October, 2007

25th Jul 2011, 10:26

A few comments:

Stator is on the LEFT not the right, so having it on the side stand actually puts the stator in more of an oil bath. However, at idling speed the stator isn't doing much and not really building much heat. The killer speed for these is 4-5,000 and up. The RIGHT side is where the ignition signal generator lives, and that shouldn't be in oil.

The battery shouldn't be boiling dry. This is caused by the R/R putting out too much power into the battery and overheating it. Usually this is because of bad ground connections in the charging system, but it can have other causes. A common swap is a Honda R/R with sense wire. thegsresources dot com and the Search function will tell you all you need to know on that one.

1981 Suzuki GS450E


Amazingly good performance for next to no cost


It needed a new battery.

The switch that won't allow you to start the bike without having the clutch in, broke when I dropped the bike. I bypassed it.

General Comments:

This is my first bike and it's fantastic.

I bought the bike on a whim for 350 dollars. It had not been running for a year, but the owner promised me he would get it running and deliver it, so I bought it.

Nothing major is wrong with it. It looks like it\'s only a few years old, not 25. The paint sparkles like new, it's got great pickup, goes faster than I need it to, and has no maintenance cost. Plus, there is a fantastic online community of GS owners at www.thegsresources.com.

When I first got the bike I wished that it was the cruiser model, but it was the sport model. However, I put some cafe-raceresque bars on it, and now it looks great.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th January, 2005

20th Feb 2007, 16:08

I had the cafe racer version called the Suzuki 450S. At the time it was the fastest 450 around. But I loved to sight-see with mine.

Changed the sprockets to gear down the engine 15% & the mileage went up 10% to a high of 75MPG. The range for a tank of gas also went up 10%. It was sweet not to have to look for a gas station for 250 miles with just a 3.7gallon tank. Vibrations went down & long distance travel was super.

Went on an autumn 8000 mile ride east to the Great Lakes, south to Texas, New Mexico, & Arizona, north thru the Rocky Mountains (a trace of snow!), & back home to Washington State. When I first left Washington State, I started 3 days behind an east moving rainstorm. Followed the storm across the country to Nebraska where it rained itself out. Went thru three different presentations of fall colors in various parts of the trip (absolutely spectacular). Used only 120 gallons of gas. Had the best time of my life.

Once had the 450 up to 110MPH & accelerating. Think gearing up the bike gave the bike a faster top speed, but I had to decelerate because of the turn ahead of me. What scared me the most was that I wasn't scared. I knew I was in trouble then. But I never ventured up to the triple digits ever again. Probably my best decision ever.

10th Feb 2008, 03:06

Yep, 1982 Suzuki GS450L 10,000mi.. I was desperate for a bike, but also I was poor. So, $365 and a trip 50 miles away and I had a 25 year old motorcycle.

I've heard of the GS's extremely reliable engine. Threw in a Wally mart battery and she started after supposedly 2 years of sitting out on someone's porch of Pittsburgh. However, she would idle fine, but any attempt to throttle and she'd die.

Looked into buying the diaphragms (x2) at a very high price. But it boiled down to basic maintenance. It turned out that both overflow tubes for the carbs were clogged with bee mud. So after 2 years sitting, 1 battery, no cleaning (tank or carbs), clean 2 tubes and she runs absolutely fine.

Also changed shims, hard to find sizes, but easy to install even though I am not a mechanic.

A plus was the 1-6 gear indicator which was a welcome surprise. But mine desperately needs a paint job. She's some sort of shade of red right now.

27th Feb 2010, 18:17

1980 GS 450l Bought the bike for 200.00 off a girl who had dumped it in her driveway. She just wanted it out of her yard.

Cleaned the carbs, changed the oil, put on tires and now it's been six years. It handles great and makes a great commuter bike.

My last bike was a full dress Goldwing,talk about downsizing! I bought a quicksilver fairing, and willie and max bags for it this winter, and plan on keeping it for a few more years.

Plenty of parts on ebay, and dealerships still stock carb parts and shims, so I think I'm all set. Bike only has 12000 miles.