1980 Suzuki GS850G from Ireland

Summary:

I'd buy another, but I don't need to

Faults:

There were many miles on this bike when I got it, but it had been well maintained by the previous owners, so there wasn't a particular downside to that. I already knew the mileage wasn't a real factor, it was how often the oil had been changed that counted. I knew the previous owners didn't thrash the bike very much.

In the 100,000 miles or so I put on it, the original cycle parts; frame, driveline, forks, electrics, etc, just carried on doing what they do. Only now are the front forks at the end of life, and they can be re-bushed and re-chromed if I want to do that.

I have a stock of spares built up, so will swap out the forks.

The usual Achilles heel on these is the reg-rec, and from what I found on the GSResources site, it's caused by the form of shunt regulation that causes excess current to be dumped back through the stator windings, thus ensuring the stator is under maximum load, especially when you run with no lights on. Paradoxically, you have to have the headlamp on to give the stator an easier time, by using some of its output and not letting the reg-rec dump it all back into the windings. A thirty year old stator doesn't take kindly to this.

There is now a newer design of reg-rec from Shindengen, known as the SH-775, made for Polaris ATVs, which gets around this problem and makes the stator run cooler. I've fitted one of these so will see how it pans out.

Owner stupidity can kill the engine - I was in the habit of letting it warm up for five minutes on the centre stand every morning, but one day I went to leave too quickly, jammed it into gear and twisted a crank journal (pressed-together crank) because of cold oil clutch drag.

That engine awaits stripdown, and the bike now has an American import engine that came over in a container full of Mid-West cruisers. The replacement engine now has over 30K on it, and many years of life in it yet.

General Comments:

1980 saw the rectification of the dreadful brakes of the late 70s models. Slotted discs, larger calipers and sintered pads finally put paid to the dreaded wet weather braking syndrome. It was really bad on the '70s bikes, but while not perfect on the 80s ones, it was much improved and predictable.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th June, 2014

1979 Suzuki GS850G from Ireland

Summary:

If they still made them, I'd buy another one

Faults:

High mileage put on it, so various things wore out - the usual service items like tyres, brake pads, clutch cables, etc.

The only thing that went wrong caused by me was overheating the bike in stop-go city summer traffic; this lead to the piston rings losing their tension when it cooled down, and the next morning there was no compression on any cylinder. It had done well over 120,000 miles at that point, so I wasn't too fussed.

Still, it points out the need for an oil cooler if running one of these in stinking hot conditions - or at least an oil temp gauge and let it cool down from time to time.

That engine needed to come apart to repair a gear-jumping fault caused by the previous owner doing clutchless changes habitually, thus wrecking the dogs on the gears.

When I stripped the engine, I was surprised to find the factory honing marks still in the barrels and absolutely no wear on the barrels or pistons. Apart from the gearbox fault, the bottom end was perfect.

General Comments:

Solid, reliable, bruiser of a tourer, will go all day long, every day of the week and just keeps running.

It's hard to kill one of these if you change the oil every 2000 miles and don't thrash it mercilessly. You don't even have to buy special oil - ordinary motor oil of a decent quality will do fine.

The '79 brakes are utter rubbish in the wet, though. It's a worthwhile investment to fit the later '80-on calipers - they'll bolt straight on and you get the benefit of later pad materials too.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th June, 2014

17th Sep 2014, 23:46

I had a 1980 GS850G. I can't agree more with the comments. I already had the better brakes, so it wasn't an issue for me. It was just a solid, everyday performer, if a little on the heavy side. I too would buy another if still available.