RideFast August 2019


South Africa's Best Motorcycle Magazine!

A trip down




attending the

Suzuki Weekend

away our “Roley”

Foley, as we call him,

got to sample the

new Katana.

When I was an appy working for Dave

Petersen back in the 90’s, I was tasked

with escorting a potential Katana buyer to

the Numbi Hotel and back for one of the

rallys. It was my fi rst rally – and it was my

fi rst real ride on a Suzuki 1100 Katana. So,

it’s quite interesting that I got to ride the

latest rendition on the same roads.

Here is a little bit of history and a

few things that you probably did not


The original Katana was actually designed

by a couple of German fella’s, who used

to work for BMW. Yup! A commission

from Suzuki to develop a new, provocative

design language for its motorcycles

motivated Hans Muth and two other

designers–Hans-Georg Kasten and Jan

Fellstrom–to leave BMW and start their

own fi rm, Target Design. Based on earlier

design studies, they developed a concept

that wrapped the existing GSX1100 in

bold, futuristic bodywork and unveiled it at

the Cologne show in 1980. Although the

Katana drew mixed reactions, Suzuki was

duly impressed and rushed the new model

into production with few changes. Thanks

to its futuristic styling, as well as its claim

as the fastest production motorcycle of the

time, the Katana was a sales success and

helped catapult Suzuki into the modern

era and the motorcycle hall of fame.

Fast forward to today:

Like the original, the latest incarnation of

the Katana comes from the imagination of

an independent designer, an Italian named

Rodolfo Frascoli whose portfolio includes

Moto Guzzi’s Griso, Norge and Stelvio and

Triumph’s Speed Triple and Tiger 1050.

Commissioned by Italy’s “Motociclismo”

magazine, Frascoli collaborated with

engineer Alberto Strazzari to graft modern,

Katana-inspired styling onto the existing

Suzuki GSX-S1000 naked sportbike.

Frascoli chose the GSX-S1000 as the

basis for the new Katana because it’s a

compact, well-packaged machine with

lots of maneuverability and performance.

Suzuki then reconfi gured the engine for

better street application.


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