Project GSXR

I had been looking for an 1100 for while, ideally a K model, these had a poor reputation, but for me, the best looking and the handling issues identified in the early 90s could be overcome with some modifications.  I looked at a few but as is common for 20 odd year old bikes, the qualities were often over stated by the seller.


Project GSXR came out of the sudden realisation that I had a heap of bits in boxes that would be better served bolted to a bike.  A text message to James confirmed he had an 1100 frame hidden away at the back of his workshop from an earlier build, together with a swing arm and a tank.  If I could add this to my stash of parts. I pretty much had a rolling chassis and all the bodywork sorted along with electrics.

I had in various places, a seat unit of a 750M, an 1100 engine, various electrics including a wiring loom, a 5.5 rear wheel and a ZX7 front end that I hoped could be bolted in place.

As luck would have it  ZX forks are the same diameter as GSXR and are even the same length, all I had to do was slide them into the standard yokes.  1100 yokes are 4mm wider than ZX so a couple of spacers needed making up, 2mm for the speedo side and a new spacer for the other, plus 2mm, I’ll need to adjust the calipers later in the build.The only problem with the frame was, we didn’t know the registration, lost in the mist of time, some correspondence exchanged with DVLA ended with a V5 landing in the post box, result!

With the registration secured I could start on the build proper, as up till now there had been little point in wasting time and money without knowing the details were confirmed.  There are a couple of breakers in the UK specialising in GSXRs, as luck would have it one of them is just up the road in Malton.  I exchanged some messages with Pete Stansfield as I knew I would be needing all the little hard to source bits that people generally wouldn’t list on ebay and would have been exorbitant to buy new.  Pete confirmed he had boxes of stuff from countless bikes broken over the years.  A couple of ebay purchases aside all I have needed has come from the corner of Pete’s workshop.


The inspiration for the build comes from Sean’s old 1100K, a clean tidy bike with a few modifications away from standard.  This bike led to my pathway down GSXR dereliction, one ride on it and I was hooked on 1127 power

A weekend spent with the frame on the bench and boxes of spares strewn across every exposed surface showed me what I had and more importantly what was needed.  I drew up a list and visited Pete, finding everything I needed at that point.

The two main areas to be addressed were the swing arm and the front end, to get a rolling chassis.  I dropped off the swing arm, wheel and Brembo caliper with Barry Dawson, collecting a few weeks later, repaired, spaced and ready to bolt in.  The front end was relatively straight forward.  Measuring and measuring again confirmed the 4mm width difference.  Alan our old boy engineer acquaintance turned up some spacers and everything slotted into place.  The ZX front end was regarded as the best of its kind in its day, so I am hopeful I can make the 11 handle a bit better than its super tanker reputation.

With the frame up on wheels I can turn my attention to other aspects and  soon lose hours bringing 25 year old parts back to serviceable order.  Ten hours disappear sorting out the rear master cylinder, drilling out broken bolts, re tapping threads re building with new seals and fabricating a small bracket from stainless to operate the return springs and brake light switch.  A couple of hours disappear sorting out the front mudguard and the same on the rear light which had been fowling the seat unit.

A low mileage ‘L’ engine from Pete is soon nestling in the frame, cleaned up, sump plug re threaded and a couple of snapped exhaust studs MIGd out by Les meant I could focus on electrics, vaguely following the manuals routing diagram, made easier by not running the standard airbox.  Hooking up the battery  confirmed idiot lights and ignition circuits.  A test light showed All the lights would work when fitted.

40mm slingshot carbs and filters take care of fuelling.  These carbs are believed to be odd a later M model, theoretically not ideal with a screw and locknut tappet engine, but these were dyno’d on James bike with clean power all the way to 132 BHP at the rear wheel, so their quality isn’t in doubt.  James now runs fancy carbs so these fitted my needs perfectly.

With some new Earls hoses made up and mated to a 19 row oil cooler I put some oil in and fire it up, only after swapping the coil wires round, I always manage to get these crossed up.  Silencing is by way of a new stainless Akropovic system, picked up of ebay, if the look was ever going to match what I set out to build it had to have a period looking system, stainless with a long silencer drawing the eye in, mated to the subframe with a stainless bracket bent up by Barry to my design.

Rear suspension had until now been a steel bar.  I replaced that with a basic Nitron shock and set about the bodywork side of things.  A matt black tank sat atop the frame, complete with skull and cross bone stickers, not really my thing, but easily changed.

My spare 750 seat unit covered the subframe and a top quarter fairing graced the front, my original plans changed when I won a belly pan and mid fairing panels on ebay for not very much money.  They did need some work tho, filling holes created by fitting flush mounted indicators were they shouldn’t have been.  Another weekend disappears in plastic welding and flatting back.

I did have a pair of 6 pot Tocikos anchoring the front but these gave way to Brembos, mated to the forks by Simon Francis who also re welded the base plate for the pingel fuel tap.  The 40s were taller than the 36s I had initially fitted and fouled the tap mechanism, spacing the tank up and recessing the tap into the tank 10mm means slightly less fuel range but clearance between carb top and fuel tap.

The bike fires up and settles into an even tickover, some shake down miles show 1127 power and surprising handling qualities, don’t get me wrong this is never going to be nimble or fast turning, but planted and secure will do.  A top braced JMC swing arm from Pete finds its way into the frame after being treated to some repairs by Barry and a new set of bearings.

I trawled the web for ideas on paint schemes, although many believe a GSXR should be blue and white, red and black were the only colours I wanted.  I usually favour block colours but with so much plastic that would never work, so the red/black split from back to front was always in my mind.  With the bike sprayed in red, Mike and I dress the naked frame allowing Mike to tape up the panels showing were the black would be overlayed.  White decals and various component stickers complete the overall look.

GSXRs – love em!