Loïs Ambiehl’s Bandit 1200-powered GSX Street Monster…
In 1980, Suzuki introduced the 16-valve GSX1100E, boasting a 1075cc four with the company’s highly-vaunted TSCC (Twin Swirl Combustion Chamber). The result was an even 100 bhp at 8700 rpm, good for a quarter-mile time of 11.4 seconds at nearly 117 mph — quick enough to outpace the six-cylinder competition from Honda.
“The big GS was designed to knock the CBX off the throne and securely hold the fastest and quickest motorcycle crown for Suzuki. It did this almost without effort. The motorcycle press in the United States raved about not only its power but also how well it handled for a Japanese liter plus bike.” –Cycle
Enter our new friend Loïs Ambiehl, aka La Fouine (The Weasel) — a 35-year-old French native who spent his youth modifying bicycles, minibikes, and skateboards. At 15, he got his hands on his first project bike, a 1990 Suzuki GSX-R1100. He spent more than a decade on that build, taking inspiration from Street Monsters magazine and the custom streetfighter scene.
“Even today, in the end I think I prefer to spend time in my garage than on the road…”
The bike you see here began life as a 1980 GSX1100E, but Loïs says only the original tank remains. Highlights include a modified frame, Bandit 1200 engine, Yamaha R1 swingarm, GSX-R1000 K8 forks, Yamaha MT-09 wheels, modified Vance & Hines headers, modified R6 exhaust, and the rearsets from his old GSX-R build.
Loïs says the bike remains a work in progress, with inspiration from many sources, including some of our favorite workshops like AC Sanctuary, Bull Dock, Icon, Racefit, and France’s own Ed Turner.
“For me it’s the ultimate prep: an old motorcycle, performance parts, and a design where you wonder, but what is this machine? A neo/retro mix that can give a really muscular cocktail…sources of inspiration, research, and we make our explosive cocktail.”
And this is one air/oil-cooled muscle bike that goes as well as it looks. Loïs runs the bike in the 200 meter (1/8 mile) at Monsters Race, where his universe of friends from the Street Monsters Forum and beyond come together to race and show their machines.
“She takes part in the Open Icon Monsters Race, a 200m race where she clocks 6.896s. Three participations, three podiums — she runs very hard over 200m. The engine is stock but in perfect condition.”
Loïs says some folks don’t believe the ’03 Bandit 1200 engine is nearly stock — just a custom exhaust and Dynojet kit for the original 36mm carbs. Truly, he says, there’s “nothing crazy, or I don’t know about it!”
It’s a bike Loïs has made just for himself, exactly how he wants it.
“For some, too radical, but I love it. I don’t have a saddle, only one disc, an exhaust that rubs in the turns, but that’s how I like it. It’s not made for the mountains, it’s safe, and the noise…? In short, I love it.”
So do we, Loïs! Few bikes are built in a vacuum, and this GSX is no exception. Loïs thanks his wife, his friends, and the entire Street Monsters community for all of their help and inspiration.
Below, we talk to him for the full details on the build, along with more gorgeous shots from his photography account, FNY Photographie.
Bandit-Powered GSX: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Hi, so I’m Loïs, aka La Fouine (The Weasel), I’m 35 years old, married and a dog by our side, happiness… I don’t have a great story but there you go, I think I’ve always liked to modify certain things; it started very young with bicycles, even skateboarding and miniature motorcycles… The motorcycle came late, not before high school, when parents were ok for me to buy a motorcycle in line with my studies. I didn’t have my license yet, but that didn’t pose a problem to the idea of tinkering with it. The choice quickly fell on a 1200 Vmax or a 1100 GSXR, probably because of my readings / magazines.
So I started when I entered high school in 2006 / 2007, already more than 15 years old. That’s okay, it was on a 1990 1100 GSXR — ultimately, my very first motorcycle. Just a box of parts with my father to tinker with and a few friends. I had ideas, but nothing built in my head; I was young.
I discovered the Street Monsters magazine and the people in this world, the forum, the weekends at the Fighterama in Germany. It was crazy, with wild preparations, desires, inspirations. We built ourselves around of all that… and the desire to ride differently… I was a student, ideas came from all sides, undecided, so the project took more than 10 years to build. Not to really benefit from it, but I cut my teeth on it — a pleasure to work on and a superb machine, no regrets. Even today, in the end I think I prefer to spend time in my garage than on the road…
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
So, it’s a 1100 GSX E from 1980. The old lady isn’t very young anymore, but she retains only the original tank for the moment; it could be that it goes, too.
• Why was this bike built?
It’s purely personal, just for me, my vision and to my liking, a bike that ultimately suits me.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
My vision of things has evolved, thanks to the internet, magazines, etc. There are thousands of sources of inspiration… The basics are in place, but we must always look for the things that make us happy.
I like old motorcycles, why, I don’t know, they give off a few things maybe, I like clip-on handlebars, and I like motorcycles that give off a certain character. I like builders who go beyond the codes, the slightly exceptional machines, and when we see the preparations of Racefit, Icon, Bull Dock, AC Sanctuary, or even the French Ed Turner in another style…it makes me dream.
I’m far from it, but for me it’s the ultimate prep: an old motorcycle, performance parts, and a design where you wonder, but what is this machine? A neo/retro mix that can give a really muscular cocktail…sources of inspiration, research, and we make our explosive cocktail.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Everything… I started with a modified frame to accommodate a 1100 GSXR engine. I adapted the first parts that I had on hand, then it underwent various more advanced developments. I swapped in a like-new 1200 Bandit engine from 2003. My friend Seb (@seb27engineering) did the construction for the assembly of the swingarm from a 2008 Yamaha R1 — enormous and quality work, machining, welding, etc.
Thanks to Beca (@beca.proto) for the adaptation part of the front end from a 1000 GSXR 2008; we made the modifications to adapt the MT09 rims and caliper supports. I did the rear loop with a friend, and the painting was entrusted to Tony (@Tony22cbr).
We made the radiator support, custom hoses, modifications to the Vances & Hines manifold, adaptation of the Yoshimura exhaust for a Yamaha R6, the ABM rear controls from my old GSXR, a homemade transparent crankcase, a Yoshimura crankcase… Not a lot of parts were passed, but we had to go to the essentials this time… and with the right people, everything can be done and within a minimum budget of course.
• Any idea of horsepower and/or weight numbers?
No idea, and that’s where it’s funny. Some people don’t believe me based on her performances. She takes part in the Open Icon Monsters Race, a 200m race where she clocks 6.896s. Three participations, three podiums — she runs very hard over 200m. The engine is stock but in perfect condition. There is a dynojet kit in the original 36mm carbs, NGK spark plug wires, and an exhaust system… Nothing crazy, or I don’t know about it!
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride the finished bike?
Finished? It’s never finished, it will also receive new modifications if time permits, other personal projects, and its little sister next door. But otherwise, I’ve done a few outings on the road, and even at the occasion of events, and it’s happiness.
It’s not because it’s mine, but it’s almost perfect. For some, too radical, but I love it. I don’t have a saddle, only one disc, an exhaust that rubs in the turns, but that’s how I like it. It’s not made for the mountains, it’s safe, and the noise…? In short, I love it. It’s unique, it’s indescribable. This year, I took photos, so I lent it to a friend to participate in the race for the first. He finished second without knowing the bike, and he loved it — a child with a new toy.
• Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
My wife, without hesitation. My friends who participated in this project, and those who encouraged me, the Street Monsters team, it’s their fault I’m here… It all perhaps comes from a first meeting, Antoine alias Artkore. And of course, thank you for taking an interest in my machine, a great pleasure!
Follow the Builder and More
Builder: Loïs Ambiehl (@lois.ambiehl)
Machining and welding: @seb27engineering
Race: @iconmonstersrace (“Our universe comes together at this event”)
Photos: FNY Photographie (This is Loïs, too)
Facebook: Dragster Moto France Louliloula
Web: Street Monsters Forum and Monsters-Race.net