Born on the Track: Suzuki GSX-R1100 Restomod

Suzuki GSXR1100 Restomod

The 34: Jean Damien’s 1988 GSX-R1100 Kevin Schwantz Tribute… 

The original GSX-R was nothing short of a motorcycling revolution, a road-legal rocket that blew away old notions of what a street-going sportbike could be. Every every other manufacturer was left scrambling to catch up. 

Suzuki GSXR1100 Restomod

On the track, meanwhile, the Yoshimura Suzuki Superbike team had signed a young rising star out of Texas, Kevin Schwantz — a former motocross and dirt-track racer whose parents owned a motorcycle shop. The young Texan nearly set a new lap record during his Willow Springs tryout, and Yoshimura manager Suehiro Watanabe offered him a contract on the spot.

“The biggest decision we had to make was who was going to call my mom and break the news to her. She still wasn’t really enthused about me racing at that point.” -Kevin Schwantz, AMA Hall of Fame

Suzuki GSXR1100 Restomod

In 1986, Schwantz took home second in the Daytona 200 on the new GSX-R, but development problems, a broken collarbone, and missed races caused him to finish seventh in the championship for the second year in a row. However, 1987 would be a different story entirely.

“The 1987 season will go down as one of the most memorable in the history of AMA Superbike racing thanks to Schwantz and Wayne Rainey. The duo’s battle was fiercer than anything ever seen before in Superbike racing. It was not uncommon for Schwantz and Rainey to bang into one another at triple-digit speeds.” –AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

Suzuki GSXR1100 Restomod

On the street, the GSX-R 750 and 1100 “Slabbies” were more like racetrack refugees than road-going machines, built as sharp-edged implements of speed. Cycle magazine laid out the GSX-R ethos like this:

“It’s best understood as a road-legal racer — a ‘street bike’ that’s as far removed from the street as Laguna’s Corkscrew is from Sunset Boulevard. Suzuki moto took the GSXR to the brink of what is acceptable performance for an everyday bike. But, as Sadayuki Inobe, Suzuki’s current executive general manager, says: ‘The GSXR has always been about born on the track.” –Cycle

Skoal Bandit Suzuki GSX-R1100

The stunning machine featured here is the 1988 GSX-R1100 of France’s Jean Damien (@jd11r), a 53-year-old superbiker who’s been riding Gixxers since he got his license at the age of 18. Although he’s had several GSX-R’s over the years — as well as other models — Jean says nothing beats his 1100:

“The GSX-R1100 from ’88 has always remained my favorite, and in 2017 I decided to build my bike — a unique bike in my eyes, which at the same time pays tribute to the GSX-R and a great rider.”

Suzuki GSX-R1100 Restomod

Over the next five years, working out of his small garage and enlisting the help of several friends and specialists along the way, Jean created this glorious GSX-R1100 restomod — a tribute to none other than Kevin Schwantz. His friend Grégory Marcellin (@alltracksmechanic) built the engine, while Rusty Motors helped with the custom machining and Julien Henry of The Color Shop knocked out the paint.

Damien and Schwantz!

In stock trim, the ’88 GSX-R1100 made 125 bhp, weighed 434 lbs, and clocked a quarter-mile time of 10.7 seconds. Jean’s Gixxer has been outfitted with a 2017 GSX-R1000 front end, braced swingarm, custom EMC rear shock, and a rebuilt engine bored to 1109cc with some “mechanic’s little secrets” — it now makes 148 whp.

Suzuki GSX-R1100 Restomod

Not only does “the 34” look the business, but Jean says it’s a demon on the track:

“It took a long time but I think I succeeded and I quite often manage to overtake more modern motorcycles on the circuit.”

Suzuki GSX-R1100 Restomod

Below, Jean gives us the full story on the build, along with videos so we can see and hear the 34 in action.

GSX-R1100 Restomod: In the Builder’s Words…

Suzuki GSX-R1100 Restomod

I’m Jean Damien and I’m from Vaucluse, France. I’m 53 years old and motorcycling has always been a great passion. As soon as I got my license when I was 18, I rode a 750 GSX-R 1985 then 750 ’88 and ’90. I switched to the 1100 afterwards, and I obviously had other motorcycles of a different brand.

Suzuki GSX-R1100 Restomod

But the GSX-R1100 from ’88 has always remained my favorite, and in 2017 I decided to make my bike — a unique bike in my eyes, which at the same time pays tribute to the GSX-R and a great rider. This is how the construction of the bike started in my small garage.

Suzuki GSXR1100 Restomod

I’m just a simple amateur; I did a lot of the work on the bike, and there were a few people involved who helped with things such as painting, machining certain parts, and above all a friend who took care of the engine preparation.

Suzuki GSXR1100 Restomod

 It took me 5 years to create and refine my beauty. Basically, it’s a 1100 from ’88 with a 2017 GSX-R1000 front end, original reinforced swingarm, and custom EMC sportshock3 shock absorber.

As for the engine, it has been completely redone and rebored to 1109cc with prepared cylinder head, stage 2 camshaft, and my mechanic’s little secrets. Programmable CDI, homemade exhaust, and to finish a Mikuni TMR rail in 38mm. The bike develops 148 hp at the wheel.

Suzuki GSXR1100 Restomod

As for the paint, I used the colors of the first 750 endurance racer, and of course the number 34 in homage to Kévin Schwantz.

Suzuki GSX-R1100 Restomod

I wanted it to be powerful in terms of the chassis — powerful and with a soul. It took a long time but I think I succeeded and I quite often manage to overtake more modern motorcycles on the circuit. Whether on the circuit or on the road, it’s always a pure joy to ride “the 34” (everyone calls it that).

Owner Thanks

Grégory Marcellin who prepared the engine: @alltracksmechanic
Stéphane from Rusty Motors for machining: @RustyMotors84
Julien Henry from The Color Shop for the paint:

Le Club 11R

Jean is a member of Le Club 11R, whose members have quite an impressive stables of early Gixxers!

Follow the Owner

Instagram: @jd11r
Club: @CLUB11R
YouTube Channel: @jeandamien9829


  1. WOW ,, I was into the Motocross in 1986 in NJ. I should’ve stayed in the Sport, but I was surrounded by a type of UnClassy people in my area. I did not know much about these Quasi Street/Track bikes then. If I did it probably would also have made a differance …

  2. Jean’s GSX-R is a stunning example of what a restomod should look like. What a great build!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *