Retrospective: Suzuki GS750E/ES: 1983

The alphanumeric system that defines many Japanese motorcycles has never been very instructive, and the bike we are writing about here was only a one-year model…but it was a good one. Suzuki was the last of the Big Four to get into the four-stroke game.

Seeing the EPA’s handwriting on the engineering wall, the Hamamatsu-based company came out with its first UJMs (four-stroke, in-line 4-cylinders) in 1977, in both 550 and 750 sizes. The engineers liked the oversquare design as it allowed for higher rpm, and the GS750 (748cc) had a 65mm bore, 56.4mm stroke, using two overhead camshafts and two valves per cylinder, and put out an estimated 60 horses at the rear wheel. While most of the thought had gone into the engine, the chassis shop had created a passable cradle frame, making it comfortable for the average rider but stiff enough to keep the go-faster happy.

1983 Suzuki GS750ES
1983 Suzuki GS750ES

The GS750 sold extremely well, but the engineers kept on working and, as the ’70s came to a close, Suzuki R&D was completing the 1980 version of the GS750, now defined by the addition of an E. And 16 valves.

Suzuki engineers used increasingly oversquare cylinders, with a wider 67mm bore and short 53mm stroke for the 747cc motor, topped off by something called the Twin Swirl Combustion Chamber (U.S. patent #3533577, for anyone caring to know more). This was back when the Japanese loved hanging a lot of initials on their technology. The TSCC used a flat piston and four rather small valves, with a narrow 40-degree angle between them. This narrow angle allowed for a flatter head, with the centrally located spark plug closer to the combustibles in the shallow chamber. Better bang, better power. The top of the piston was indented in four places to accommodate the valves.

Valve adjustment was almost old-fashioned, with locknuts allowing home mechanics to get the gaps right…or wrong, depending on their competence. Fuel was delivered via four 32mm constant-velocity Mikuni carburetors, and compressed at a rate of 9.4:1. Maximum power, 65 horses, came on at 9,000 rpm, with good torque—40 lb-ft, from six to eight thousand—you couldn’t really ask more of a 750 back in 1980. Straight-cut gears passed power through a wet clutch to a 5-speed transmission, then out to the back via a 630 chain.

1983 Suzuki GS750ES
1983 Suzuki GS750ES

Sportbikers were mad for these new 750s, and dealers were putting them out the front door as fast as they came in the back. Suzuki appreciated that few of these GS750E models would ever see the inside of a race course, and the key was to make the chassis suitable for the street rider, who was not appreciative of too much stiffness and liked to feel the bike respond quickly to the steering inputs. The frame was a double-loop full-cradle, with the suspension opting for
comfort over cornering.

Rake was 28 degrees, with a trail of 4.1 inches. Riding like you stole it, bits and pieces like the centerstand and footpegs might scrape in corners, but just take off the stand as any serious roadracer would do. In 1981, this model did get air adjustability on the leading-axle fork, and the shocks got rebound-damping adjustability, along with standard preload. Cast wheels carried tubeless tires, a front 19-incher, the rear, 18. Braking was done by three slotted 11-inch discs, each using a single-piston caliper. The art of serious braking efficiency was just beginning to come out of the Dark Ages.

1983 Suzuki GS750ES
1983 Suzuki GS750ES

All this was in a wheelbase of barely over 60 inches, and a curb weight of 540 pounds—which included the five gallons of gas in the tank. A competent drag racer in the saddle could turn a quarter-mile in under 13 seconds, with a speed of more than 100 mph. As an around-town bike, the GS750E excelled, with plenty of power in the lower rpm range. And on the highway, it was smooth and fast.

Then for 1983, the last iteration of the E received major changes, from sheet metal to chassis. About the only thing unchanged was the bore and stroke of the engine, and the size of the Mikuni carbs. A lighter crankshaft had been fitted, slightly bigger valves, and a small increase in compression ratio to 9.6:1, with the power now over 70 horses at 9,500 rpm. Everything that could be lightened was, from transmission gears to fins, and the result was an engine/tranny that weighed, according to Suzuki, 28.7 pounds less than its predecessor and was physically
smaller.

1983 Suzuki GS750ES
1983 Suzuki GS750ES

That last part was essential because Suzuki was going modern with a Full Floater single-shock rear suspension, which intruded on the engine space. A new frame connected the swingarm and new 17-inch rear wheel to the steering head, and the front fork was now a bigger 37mm item, sporting that anti-dive valving. At the bottom of the fork, the 19-inch wheel was tossed and replaced by a 16—drastic! The idea was that the 16-incher, followed by a shorter wheelbase, could handle as quickly as a 550. This was where the sporting world was going at the time—though a few years later the sportbikes were all running 17-inch fronts. Everything was tucked into a wheelbase more than an inch shorter than before at 58.9 inches, with a slightly steeper rake (27.8 degrees) and the same trail.

The styling was all new, with two models being offered. The GS750E now had a frame-mounted bikini fairing, and the ES came with a half fairing. The seat had a racy rear end, and the exhaust system was all black. The ES in the photos has aftermarket lowers on the half-fairing and a four-into-one Supertrapp exhaust.

1983 Suzuki GS750ES
1983 Suzuki GS750ES

The riding position was new, too—while the previous GS750E had been considered primarily an urban machine, the new low, two-piece handlebar and slightly rearset pegs definitely had the rider in a semi-racy crouch. American riders were just getting into the notion of serious sportbikes, and this was a great success, worthy competition for Honda’s Interceptor.

Then the Reagan Recession descended on us, resulting in many unsold units, meaning none were imported for 1984. This was followed by the tariff-induced GS700E/ES in 1985. And then—hang the taxes—along came the all-new GSX-R750 in 1986.

(This Retrospective article was published in the August 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)

31 COMMENTS

  1. That bike pictured is an 83 E with a color matched ES upper fairing and an aftermarket lower. The ES’s in the states were all white with red striping. It is really a GSX750E/ES. The X signified 4 valves per cylinder.

  2. I bought my 83 750ES used in 1985 and rode it as all 20 year olds do 🙂
    I absolutely loved that bike everything about it was just perfect
    Nice article – brought back fond memories

  3. This brings back memories. I had a burgundy model GS750E, my 1st true “sportsbike”. Rode it and loved it. Painted the engine black with bbq paint and made it look like a new bike once the dullness of the faded paint was gone. Great bike in its day and imo still today. Thk for revitalising the memories.

  4. Also forgot, it had a gear indicator… it took me until 2004 and the BMW 12GS to find another bike I liked with one. Seems commonplace today but it was a rarity back in the 90s it seemed, at least on Japanese bikes.

  5. nice article – just made 1984 GS750EXF ‘barn find’ with 2,100 km in brand new condition always garaged in heated garage – would like to put 4 into 1′ onto it – I will seek Supertrapp – any other suggestions – hard to find

  6. Great info relating to the, then cutting edge, (damned near ,all new) approach the designers/engineers @ Suzuki took! (relating to the ’83 GS750e). Ive got 2 of them, running and complete (nearly identical). I also have es550 but have never really taken the time or effort to resurrect the little brother. Still Great bikes in my opinion.

    I’ve been searching for Info on where I might be able to purchase an after market , semi-full fairing similar to the one featured at the first link to this page? Any clues? Thanks in advance to all you “old school iron riders” (I know , Not that “Old or Iron”, but you get my take.)

  7. I own a 1985 gs700es have had allot of work done to it….just a fun bike to ride, I’ve owned it for the past 17yrs…it was blue and white when i bought it…….

  8. I’m the owner of this fantastic bike. To this day I don’t think iv’e experienced a bike with better handling. The ergo’s are spot on, and feels neutral.

    But it’s in good hands and i’m hopeful will wear it’s original indicators and exhaust soon. I’m happy to have “saved” another terrific classic bike.

    • Perry, I can’t imagine many people were crazy enough to put a matching silver and blue ES fairing on a new 1983 GS750ED. I was one of them though! I bought my 1983 GS750ED new from a Long Beach dealer, took a Greyhound down and rode it back to Seaside, California. I bought all the ES parts and had it painted to match. The painter did a great job as I recall. Seaside is a tough place for a bike to live outside. Mine had lot of surface corrosion on it. I sold it before being transferred to Pearl Harbor. I suppose there’s a chance you have old bike!

      Pics or It Didn’t Happen 😀 https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-9jhB6qw/0/47d6d17a/O/i-9jhB6qw.jpg

  9. I just bought a 85 suzuki GS 750E this bike is nice would like to lower it if possible one day do anyone know how to do that if not I like it like it is let me know if I can or not

  10. The bike should not be lowered. Take off your centerstand, and if you can touch your pegs on the road, you’re probably driving to fast. I have purchased my 1983 GS 750E new. Have since matched a half fairing, and obtained the only set of lowers I have ever seen, made by Lockhart, for it. I have color matched everything, It take a a very stock Silver to paint that bike. I have the stock headers, again,, a virtually new set from EBAY for $140 dollars, from Wisconsin Cycle Salvage, great guys. Don’t ever sell the bike, you will regret it. The valve top cover screws should be Heli-Coiled, and the bolts should have taken .020″ off to make it snug a little tighter. Do not over torque these bolts, as the shoulder prevents them from getting any closer to the head. Also, get rid of the voltage regulator, as it only regulates one leg of the Stator, which has caused the premature death of many of these bikes. I mounted one from a Kaw KZ 1300, and it is a beast of a Voltage Regulator. I mounted it right next to the battery, removing the dinky tool book. I put the tools in the tailpiece storage. I have a new Electrosport Stator, which puts out 20% more voltage.

    Service Manual Link = http://gsarchive.bwringer.com/mtsac/~cliff/storage/gs/GS750E-ES_Shop_Manual_1983.pdf

  11. I have a 1983 GS750ESD purchased new in 1983. It has 9800 original miles and all original equipment, including factory service manual, operators manual, tool kit and factory valve adjustment tool. I did replace front brake lines with aeroquip stainless/Teflon, but still have the factory rubber hoses. Was thinking about selling it as I have a new bike. It still runs great.

  12. I bought a GS 750 T 1983 and I think it uses the same engine as the 1983 GS 750 E.
    The difference lies in some aesthetic aspects, such as the tank, the brakes, the rear mudguard. Essentially

  13. I purchased a brand new red and white 1982 GS750ES in Lubbock, TX while stationed at Reese AFB. I paid $ 2,300.00 buck out the door including a brand new Bell full face helmet.
    She only had 10 miles on her when I drove away from the dealership.
    Is give anything to have that sweet ride again 😊

  14. I have the one year rare tariff model 1985 GS700ES. Found it sitting on a side yard going to bike heaven.. It was a mess ! Brought it back from the graveyard.
    Absolutely love this bike, faster than most people think. Took it to local dragway and turned a 11.56 in the 1/4….. Not bad for a 33yr old bike. Been riding it evry year since 2007 and she never lets me down.
    Classic crouch rocket.

  15. Love the 1983 750E model pictured, reminds me of a smaller version of my ’88 Yamaha FJ1200 (minus lower fairing) and a well set up and restored example would be a great everyday bike today, well suited to long rides if necessary.
    These old air cooled fours deserve to be ridden and many are surprisingly quick and respond well to modern updates like tyres, oils, brakes and electrics.
    My FJ has 94,000 miles, looks, goes, stops and handles better than new and last year did an easy 3000 mile trip to Italy from England. Shame is, I never saw any of these old bikes doing the same, just endless hordes of BMW GS variants mostly and plenty of Harleys.
    No excuse, also did a 2800 mile tour to Slovenia and back through the Alps on my 1975 Norton Commando, it loved the mountains but also cruised at a steady 70-80mph on motorways. A 750E would have made a great companion..
    Best thing is, they get lots of attention.

    • Updated tyres (tires, in USofA) ?!! Find a standard size front (100/90-16) or rear (120/90-17). Kenda makes a front, but no rear unless you go to a 130. But not even an UPGRADE! Had a brand new ’83 750ED and rode it as only transportation, raced it, and had a great time. Had an asswipe run a red light and I clipped his rear end trying to avoid him. Put me in a ditch, banged up me & the bike. But I managed to repair & ride it for another year. Then I traded it for a new 1986 750 GXR. Still have that one. But missed my ED. Found another banged up GS750ED recently missing tank, seat, ignition system, and a few other misc. parts. But I still have the old banged up tank and some other saved parts, so I’m putting some work into it and hope to have it running again soon. I also have a 1982 GS850GL, 1981 GS450E, 2003 SV1000N(Sweet), and a 2003 GSX1200 Bandit with over 121,000 miles(never apart)! Love them Suzukis! (Oh, and 3 T-500 Titans. 1 on the road and 2 projects. My favorite ride is the Bandit. The most comfortable, great handling, dependable every day ride I’ve ever had. But they’re all great!

  16. These are a truly understated machine. I had the GS750es in 90-92. My Mighty 89 FJ1200 did the big tour mountain climbing allover the Northwest. But that 750 did mostly all the daily grind commute, sport day ride blasting. Abuse. I have to admit
    My FJ was purchased new and pampered, NOT babied but regarded. The GS? I got it cheap used.($900) And beat the living
    piss out of it. Shifted only when the valves started to float and the power would start to fall off. Like at 11 grand.
    I didn’t care. Thought it was fun at 26 years stupid. Smoking burnouts. Attempts at wheelies. Foolishness. Disregarded.
    THAT bike never skipped a beat. Sure the Gixxer was out with its narrow dedicated focus. But it was not or ever will be a
    GREAT street bike like that GS.

    • I’ve got an 83gs 750 e project for sale in Sacramento,call.Beautiful,just been sitting.$1000 obo.blood red/black, complete.call 7076280900

  17. I remember those . I had a 1978 KZ1000 LTD . I beat 2 different GS 750’s In my youth doing street drags . But the GS are very nice bikes

  18. I recently saved a gs750e it’s purple from the impound yard and the crusher how do I tell what year it is all numbers removed except off motor

  19. I purchased a brand new GS750ES in 83′. I loved it!! Except for the front end. The lousy anti-dive made the front brakes feel like mush and never actually stopped the forks from compressing under braking. the small 16 in front wheel was awfully twitchy as well, snapped into corners too quickly. BUT. The engine and tranny were stellar!! Lots of great power everywhere, down low, mid-range, and high end. rear suspension was great. And last but not least, on mine I installed a set of Bassanni racing pipes. Bassanni denies making anything but Harley stuff these days, but back in 83′, these were THE performance pipes to have. In my opinion. Would love to find another ES just to include in my collection now.

    • Anyone who found the GS750ES twitchy was not experienced enough for that bike and were in over their head. I still own my GS750ES. I purchased my bike new. The bike almost anticipates your thoughts but that is because you are putting input that you are unconcious of .
      The bike does exactly what you input into it. The brakes were excellent if maintained properly and the anti dive makes todays bikes seem obsolete and I have ridden many and leave many in the my wind vortex. Not a bike for a novice but a dream for the experienced rider. Like I wrote earlier, I still ride my GS750ES and get a crowd of people around me at events, many regretting the day they sold theirs. Incidently the GS700 had the same horse power due to clver cam work and timing .

      • Well dude i still have mine too and i rebuilt the whole engine 4 thousand miles ago top and bottom end eaven the clutches its like new and fast but it has the stock carbs and people who arent aware of how they work think the bike is a rat .i did two until i started riding it right building the rpms with the clutch in and dumping it breaking the tire loose and keeping the rpms up through the gears .you have to ride thease early ones a 81 like everywhear is a drag race then they fly mine has a 2 piece fiberglass drag racing body on it .it is black and i am too old to really enjoy it so if anybody has a 2 stroke like a rz rd or suzuki street 2 stroke 500 or smaller and is interested in a trade or maybe selling it to the right person let me know

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