Team Classic Suzuki builds a Katana with 200-hp WSBK underpinnings!
Team Classic Suzuki, sponsored by Suzuki’s official vintage parts program, fields some very trick vintage machinery in classic racing series around Europe and beyond.
“The team races newly-built ‘old bikes,’ and the overall look manages to take modern design practices, apply them to classic bikes, and blend heritage with a modern racing series, culminating in a beautiful machine that marries all those parts in one compact shape.” —Petrolicious
These are no show ponies, either. The Team Classic stable, which includes a Suzuki XR69 and RG500, among others, has taken three superbike victories at the Isle of Man Classic TT with none other than the great Michael Dunlop in the saddle.
In 2020, Team Classic even planned to swap their vintage machinery for modern GSX-R1000 kit to make their Isle of Man TT debut. Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans, canceling nearly all of their scheduled races for the year.
What’s a team of highly skilled builders, engineers, and racers to do? The same thing as so many shed/garage builders we’ve featured in the past year: a lockdown project build.
And what a project it is, unveiled in the last 24 hours: a road-going Katana based on a 2008 GSX-R1000 World Super Bike (WSBK) machine! Team Classic already had some solid history with the Katana, having built an air/oil-cooled race-spec version in the past:
“After building a racing version at Motorcycle Live, Team Classic Suzuki raced a Katana in the European Classic Endurance Championship, scoring a class win at Oschersleben.”
This time, they decided to build a street-legal Katana, starting with a 2008 WSBK-spec engine from an Alstare GSX-R1000, which puts down ~200 bhp at the rear wheel. The engine, which was fully refreshed by Team Classic’s Nathan Colombi, breathes through Alstare WSBK headers and a Racefit link pipe and silencer.
“Cooling comes from a factory radiator and oil cooler, with aluminium water and oil pipes. To keep things manageable, electronics comes as a Yoshimura EM Pro kit.”
The engine is housed in an Alstare WSBK frame that has the same dimensions as a road-going GSX-R1000 K8. Alpha Performance Fabrications provided a bespoke subframe and an oversized custom swingarm designed to convert the bike to an Öhlins twin shock setup, paying homage to the original Katana.
The bike is rolling on Dymag CH3 wheels — the same ones found on Team Classic’s XR69 replicas — along with Brembo discs, calipers, and pads.
“The rear caliper slots discreetly in between the swingarm and wheel for a cleaner look to the rear end. New aluminium rear sets were designed in-house.”
As for bodywork, the seat unit is a Team Classic Suzuki racing piece modified to fit the factory WSBK fuel tank, while the nose is a coveted NOS Katana unit available from Suzuki’s Vintage Parts Programme — widened one inch to clear the Öhlins forks. Carbon panels were created from nose/seat unit molds to fill all the gaps, and all of the fixtures and fittings come from Racefastener.
The team paid homage again to the original Katana with the bike’s logos and graphics:
“A new seat from Italian supplier Race Seats is finished with a Katana logo, the traditional red Suzuki logo of original Katanas still adorns the tank, while a Team Classic Suzuki logo completes the seat unit, again in the traditional red.”
All in all, this is a Katana that would surely impress the great swordsmiths of Japanese history. Though we tend to prefer the air/oil-cooled fours of yesteryear, this bike is a true weapon, marrying vintage nostalgia and cutting-edge performance. Bravo.