Modern motorcyclists have an ever increasing range of different types of motorcycles¬† from which to choose. Superbikes, tourers, adventure bikes and everything in between are built with a specific type of riding purpose in mind. This was not always the case. From 1970 until the mid 1980s the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers established a basic standard for large capacity motorcycles. These motorcycles, referred to as “UJMs” or Universal Japanese Motorcycles were generally powered by four stroke, four cylinder air cooled engines mounted transversely across the double cradle steel frame. The motorcycles all came with relatively similar equipment and styling. The rider would then accessorise the motorcycle to suit his or her own needs. Lower handlebars and a fairing would be fitted for sportier riding or panniers installed if touring was your passion. In 1985 Suzuki launched the race replica looking and performing GSXR750. This out and out sports motorcycle heralded the beginning of a new era of purpose built motorcycles. The UJM era was surely over.


Not everyone was thrilled with this specialised type of motorcycle. As the superbikes became faster, more agile and may I say more uncomfortable for daily use, the upsurge in demand for motorcycles with previous generation UJM qualities began to grow. The Japanese responded by producing upgraded, redesigned and more powerful versions of their twin shock 1980s models. Versions of these “naked” or “retro” bikes are still in production currently.


Suzuki launched their nostalgic GSX750 and GSX1200 Inazuma models in Japan and Europe in 1998. Inazuma translates as lightning, which may be an exaggeration of performance in today’s terms but having the air and oil cooled engines from the GSXR750 and GSXR1100 producing 85hp and 100hp meant far better performance potential than their 1980s counterparts. The 17 inch wheels are fitted with modern rubber and dual Brembo disc brakes on the front and a single disc on the rear take care of braking. The gas/oil rear shocks are fully adjustable. An aluminium swingarm is standard. This model was available until 2002 when the GSX1400 was launched.


This particular Inazuma is owned by Mark from Centurion, whose beautiful Savage bobber was one of our first features. Mark obviously has an eye for style and this cafe racer Suzuki is also an eyecatcher. V Custom Cycles were once again involved in this project. Their tail piece and seat together with a stunning paint job create the cafe racer image. Upside down performance front suspension has been installed which must improve the standard soft handling. Clip-ons and bar end mirrors lower the stance. Those round gauges are standard but gorgeous. A modern touch is the fabricated silencer fitted onto the standard 4 into 1 headers.


The retro or naked bikes capture the spirit of the 1980s motorcycles but are vastly improved. Even in standard trim they are good lookers. When people like Mark and V Custom Cycles have finished with them, they are stunners.