Everyone at Suzuki is passionate about motorcycles; it’s why they work where they work and do what they do. And that passion isn’t just about bringing new motorcycles to market, demonstrated with Suzuki’s Aftersales Department and Apprentice Centre set to embark on a huge restoration job. Enter Project GSX-R1100.
This GSX-R1100L has been stood outside since 2003. It was enveloped by wildlife, and even after being chopped free, it still has moss, cobwebs and twigs hanging on. However, it is to be given a new lease of life, with Suzuki’s Apprentice Centre set to restore it to its former glory.
The bike originally belonged to Howard Davies, brother of Suzuki GB’s Aftersales Coordinator, Tim Davies, before being sold to Tim’s friend Stuart Baker, who rode it on the rode until 2003. However, since then, it has been left in the garden, as life moved on and other things got in the way, before Stuart sadly passed away last year from Marfan Syndromne.
More than 10 years on though, and the bike has been salvaged from the Stuart’s back garden, and with the blessing of his wife Tracie, will form a new project for Suzuki and its Apprentice Centre in Doncaster.
“We’d actually been looking for a bike we could turn into a bit of a project for a while,” explains Tim. “As Aftersales Coordinator I’d had my eye on a couple, and had been looking at different ways we could do it. Obviously we’re all enthusiasts here, and not just about the newest and shiniest, we also like the restoration and project side of things and getting our hands dirty.
“This project really started to gather steam in January. I always knew that bike was there, and when we decided to move ahead with it I approached Tracie to see what she thought of the idea. She had no use for it any more, so it became our project bike.
“It’s the perfect bike for us to turn into a project, too. It represents an iconic model from Suzuki’s history, and one that everyone will enjoy working on. There are also a wide-range of parts still available for the bike with our Vintage Parts Programme, such as airbox, wiring loom, carburettors, etc.”
The bike will require a full strip down, including having the motor split and rebuilt, with the Apprentice Centre the best place for the bike to undergo its transformation.
“We looked at a couple of ways we could restore a project bike, but really teaming up with the guys at the Apprentice Centre was the best option. It gives the young technicians there the chance to put their skills into real practice, taking something wholly unroadworthy and restoring it to standard. It will also give them the opportunity to take a step back in time, and work on carbs and older technologies they won’t see so much of on the newer bikes.”
Richard O’Brien, Suzuki’s Aftersales Training Manager, said, “This is a great project for the apprentices to get involved with and we’re really looking forward to getting started. It will really test their skills and knowledge, and will offer a great chance for them to put what they’ve learned into practice, while learning new skills along the way.
“It’s also great exposure for the Apprentice Centre and what Suzuki is doing to help young people get started in the motorcycle industry, and further highlights the fact that Suzuki is about so much more than just selling new motorcycles, but that it’s a brand with history and also a passion for the bikes that make Suzuki what it is today.”
Tim Davies further explained the plans for Project GSX-R1100, saying, “Although the bike was silver and black originally, the plan is to transform it into the classic GSX-R blue and white. It’s a big job, and we’re looking at around 18 months to complete. But it’s a fun project for everyone to get their teeth stuck into, and will also really highlight the amount of vintage parts we have available for the more classic Suzuki machines.”
Despite the finished article potentially being some way off, Tim also has plans for it once it’s complete.
“We’ll hang on to it for a bit, maybe take it to a few shows and showcase the fine handiwork of our apprentices. But ultimately my plan is to give it away, and in the process raise money for Marfan Foundationin memory of Stuart.”
Follow the bike’s restoration in the pages of the Suzuki Bulletin, with a full gallery of images to follow.