1982 GS1100GK review

by Jon E. Salyer


DOHC inline 4 cylinder
Bore x stroke: 72 x 66mm
Compression ratio: good
Horsepower: plenty
Curb weight: Heavy


I became the third owner of this motorcycle in the spring of 1991. Not having ridden anything bigger than a Honda CB900 previously, the thought of an 1100cc full dresser was not what I really had in mind to replace my recently deceased CB750F. Therefore, when my friend stated he was selling his GS1100GK to upgrade to a Harley, I jumped at the chance to by it. Having been friends with both previous owners, I knew the history of this motorcycle first hand, from when it was new.

It was in stock condition with only 16,000 mile on the odometer when I rode it home that first time. It was big and it was heavy, but it was smooth and had a ton of power. The windshield kept the wind off and I found that even in heavy rain I remained mostly dry at highway speeds with only the top of my helmet and the tip of my boots becoming wet.

After several years, my wife suggested that I have it repainted because she hated the original “old man” brown paint job as she called it. Therefore, in the winter of 1998 I had it professionally repainted to a dark night blue and silver with grey pinstripes, keeping with the original pattern. I removed the stock rear view mirrors, that never stay adjusted in place anyways, and replace them with handlebar mounted mirrors and then swapped out the stock air cleaner with a K&N filter. Reupholstered the seat and backrest to black, and within a span of four months had a bike that no one, including the two previous owners, recognized.

I never liked the 85 mph speedometer that was required by Federal Law on these motorcycle or any other motorcycle for that matter, so in December of 2005 and I was lucky enough to have the one and only winning eBay bid on a Suzuki, NOS (new old stock) still in the box, 140 speedometer that matched the tachometer perfectly for a mere $20.00. Therefore, at 33,979.7 miles I replace the old speedometer (keeping it, so I could match mileage against the maintenance receipts) with new odometer that had 0.5 (one half mile) total miles on the dial.


I have read that it will do high 12’s in the quarter mile, the only thing I know personally is that will merging onto a highway at speed with absolutely no problems, even with a full load and an adult passenger on board. The heavy-duty adjustable rear air shocks and air assist adjustable forks makes riding of the fully loaded machine manageable. The handlebars become somewhat heavy at slower speeds and the motorcycle does not bottom out when riding on rough roads.

I routinely get 43-45 mpg between city and county and 50+ mpg on the highway. This allows me to get between 215-250 miles to a tank before switching to reserve.

Now that the motorcycle has 41,000 miles on it (the odometer actually showing 7,000 miles), I have noticed that the engine is running a lot cooler. The does not uses or leak any oil and the drive train is solid, without any leaks of any kind. I really appreciate it tight turning radius and standard crash bars that protect the motorcycle from the spills of being laid over as a result of someone loosing his footing in gravel.


Oil has been changed every 3-4000 miles, major tune up every 4-6000 miles or so, and everything else, cables, gear oil, transmission, carbs every four to five years. I have spent a good sum of money on its up keep, but in return, I have a motorcycle that is in excellent shape and that I have absolute confidence in, at the fraction of the cost of a new motorcycle.


I have also read where owners have had a lot of electrical problems with their machines. I went through, cleaned, and greased all the electrical connectors. The original rectifier burned out at around 37,000 miles and I also replaced the rear main drive gear in the rear hub at 28,000 miles. The stock windshield was replaced with a Clear View Custom shield out of Pine Colorado and small auxiliary driving lights were added on the front crash bars to aid the some what weak headlight.

The only nuisance problem I have had was the speedometer and tachometer cables repeatedly breaking. This was solved with aftermarket cables, but because of the repeated failures, the odometer is off by about 50 miles. Body parts are only available only eBay and aftermarket parts are few to none.

The Future

My plan is to maintain it as is. I would like to think that I could get 80,000+ miles out of this GK, to which the local Suzuki mechanic say this can be achieved with normal maintenance.

Final Thoughts

I have purchased two others motorcycle since 1991, a 1996 BMW R1100RT and a 1980 Kawasaki KZ1000 LTD, but this 1982 GS1100GK is still my favorite ride. As a daily rider, it negotiates city traffic with minimal effort and as a touring bike is very comfortable at highway speeds for hours at a time. It has always been an excellent two-up motorcycle for that Sunday afternoon ride, or you can pack it up for that weekend getaway. Other motorcycle may come and go, but this GK will be with me for years to come.