History remembers the winners. Those who came second or third are seldom considered significant. This also holds true in motorcycling terms. When Honda launched their K0750 in 1969, it was the first four cylinder superbike to be offered to the masses. It quickly became a legend. When Suzuki eventually conceded that four stroke technology was what the market wanted and launched their four cylinder GS500 and GS750 in 1976, they were the last of the four Japanese manufacturers to join the big multi cylinder market. Even though the GS750 was hailed as being the first superbike to have the correct balance between performance and handling, it unfortunately never achieved the status it deserved.
Michio Suzuki started the Suzuki Loom Works in 1909, designing and manufacturing spinning and weaving looms. In 1937 Suzuki produced their first car which was powered by a small two stroke engine. WWII put an end to his car production and after the war Suzuki continued loom production. The innovation of installing a clip on motor to a bicycle spurred Suzuki on to design and manufacture his own motorised bicycles in 1952. This 36cc, 1hp Powerfree, as it was named, was the first motorcycle to be produced by the newly formed Suzuki Motor Corporation. In1954 a larger capacity 60cc Diamondfree moped won the Mount Fuji Hillclimb. This was to be the first of Suzuki’s vast number of race wins in all forms of motorcycle racing. In 1954 Suzuki was already selling 6000 motorcycles monthly. It changed its name to the current Suzuki Motor Co. in 1954. In 1955 Suzuki entered the car market with an innovative small vehicle powered by a two stroke engine.
It was Suzuki’s love of two stroke technology for use in both motorcycles and cars which almost resulted in the company’s demise. Although Suzuki produced race winning two stroke motorcycles and performance two stroke road machines like the T500 twin, the market had moved to four stroke technology by 1970. Suzuki resisted moving away from two stroke power and introduced the watercooled three cylinder two stroke GT750 in 1971. Although innovative it was not a sales success. Suzuki introduced the Wankel rotary powered RE5 in 1974 as a last gasp attempt to avoid four stroke manufacture. It failed dismally!
By 1975 Suzuki were in trouble. Their cars were battling to get emission approval and their large capacity motorcycle sales were nonexistent. It is for this reason that the GS750 launched in 1976 is such a good motorcycle. It could not fail. Its failure would probably have closed Suzuki down. The heavy, long frame and substantial swing arm resulted in market leading stability and handling. The DOHC 8 valve engine was over engineered and indestructible, producing 63hp and 195 km/h. Its crankcases were used without modification for 500hp dragbikes. The GS750 was available in several variants from 1976 until 1979 internationally and until 1981 in Japan.
Our featured bobber is based on an unusual in South Africa, shaft drive model GS750G, a model which was only sold in Japan in 1980 and 1981 to meet the Japanese maximum limit of 750cc. South Africa received the GS850G and GS1100G as shaft drive models. Alex who owns this no nonsense bobber, originally bought the GS to build a cafe racer. After seeing his mate Tiago from OneOne Customs‘ XS650 bobber, Alex decided that a bobber is what the GS would become. Tiago removed the shock absorbers and created a rigid tail whilst still retaining the original swingarm. The rear subframe was removed and the solo saddle, without vertical support, installed. Most bobbers are chain driven but the shaft drive is unobtrusive and enhances the stripped down look of this motorcycle.
The petrol tank is off a Yamaha SR250 and painted by Tiago. The wheels are stock but painted black. Flipped handlebars are a Tiago trademark. Alex bought the small old Triumph headlight of which the yellow glass lens is a distinctive feature. The components which normally are chromed are now copper plated, not painted. Currently Alex runs the bike with just the exhaust headers fitted but he is considering fitting some upswept pipes. Whitewall tyres add the finishing touch to this rugged but rideable bobber.
When we think of a bobber, the Harley powered type normally springs to mind. V twins and parallel twins are probably the most common and historically correct bobbers. Japanese four cylinder bobbers are definitely the meanest!