1982 GS550M Katana review

by Peter Judar

Description: 1982 is the second and last model year of this "baby Katana". 53.7 BHP at 9400rpm, 6 speed, 4 cylinder 8 valves, 549cc's, and a wet weight of about 540 lbs, so she's a pretty heavy girl for the engine size. I've had her up to about 100MPH per tach, but she seems most comfortable between 70 and 85MPH in 6th gear.

Pricing: I bought this bike for $700 in 5/2010 from a Craigslist ad in Los Angeles, it was a trade in at a local neighborhood MC shop and they had serviced the bike so everything was in working order, electrical, etc). The bike was perfectly stock with what appeared to be legitimate original 8200 miles. I was able to ride it off no problem.

History: Though from California, the bike must of been sitting outside, so the frame was not pretty and rear shocks as well, mainly though only one side of the bike. The bike had not been cleaned up and I saw no yellowing or and sign of oil leaking anywhere which was a big plus for me being a novice vintage bike buyer. In the interim I have put circa 3000 miles on the machine and my initial inspection of the engine was correct. No oil leaks! Tank had a few dings side covers and fenders lights were all in a 7/10 or so condition.

Modifications: Though the bike was running OK to fine, in the interest of safety, tinkering and fun I undertook the following modifications/upgrades/additions: Reupholstered seat $150; Bridgestone BT45 130.80.18 rear slightly larger than stock, and 100.90.19 front stock, really like these tires, $200 mounted. Rebuilt carb and pod filters, $170; New fork seal job $115; New front and rear brake pads and steel lines $175; Recently added full new EBC clutch/labor $210; New petcock/install $95, Hella H4 85/100 watt bulb (big difference) $7; New x-ring 530 ek chain and stock size sprockets and labor $265; oil changes and filters twice $100; throttle and clutch cables installed $100. Some cosmetics besides the seat included grip, bar ends, cafe fairing, lower handlebars about $150.

Opinion: IMHO, this is a very good first bike. This bike now runs, rides and purrs perfectly, from the engine to the clutch, tires brakes, throttle. I could not be happier. However, the forks are leaking again, I guess they were more pitted than the new seals could handle. I am now biting the bullet and ordering new tubes from Forks by Frank for $245. With some saddlebags, I am looking forward to take this bike on an extended LA to Vegas - Death Valley - LA tour. One of the great things about this bike is the circa 6 gallon stock tank. I recently rode 170 miles before switching to reserve with another 2 gallons or so left! Power is adequate but on a recent ride up to Mt. Baldy (5000 plus feet), it would of been nice to have a bit more. Though I am into this bike for about $2,500 now, I know what I've got and I'm not sure there are that many nice stock ones like mine still on the road. Since the bike is cosmetically only about a 6 or 7, I've called her RATKAT.

Cautions: Well, only that you can quickly overspend to what the market price of such a bike really is worth! But hey that's the price for a hobby!