The GR650i

A Brief Synopsis


The GR650X was undoubtedly Suzuki's finest moment. Light weight, lots of power, perfect handling, excellent economy and all the controls fell easily to hand. It was cheap, too. Well, that's what the roadtesters said in 1986.

Leaving aside the frenzied ravings of bribed professional liars, it's not quite that good. Not good at all, really. Compared to modern bikes, it's fairly heavy (200kgs) and ridiculously underpowered (40bhp). It's a 650cc, air-cooled, DOHC 180 parallel-twin with a monoshock rear end.
Red goes fasterererer (er!). Truly.

This particular example started life as a parking inspector's bike in Melbourne. After the Traffic Nazis had finished thrashing it and declared it surplus to requirements, the bike passed through an unknown number of owners and was crashed several times before being stored under a house for five years. Rescued from the cobwebs and cockroaches, it needed significant work to make it roadworthy. Most of the mechanical bits were as Suzuki intended, if quite worn (not surprising after 95,000 hard kilometres), but the tank and exhaust were rusted out and the brakes and tyres were shot. There were rats living in the airbox, which was tastefully decorated with gum leaves and chunks of well-gnawed wiring loom.

Steve bought the wreck for a pittance, christened it "Project Shitbox" and painstakingly restored it. If that's what you'd call it. He fixed the tank and exhaust, cleaned out most of the rat turds and bribed corrupt officials until it was certified roadworthy. Then came Part 2 of his evil plan: to flog the bike to work and back every day until it died. This is taking a lot longer than he expected.

You've heard of wave surfing, 'net surfing, car surfing and train surfing, right? Behold: GR surfing!

Project Shitbox is, quite simply, a menace to civilised society. The engine burns more oil than petrol, and it trails a blue cloud wherever it goes. Despite the rubber-mounted handlebars, footpegs and seat, the whole bike vibrates like a jackhammer. The frame seems to have an invisible hinge in the middle. The brakes are like government workers. They do work, but fairly ineffectually, only if they feel like it, and in their own sweet time. The suspension goes up and down, although there is no damping to speak of and the springs are softer than jelly. Steve replaced the tyres with the cheapest round black things he could find. They're supposed to be made of rubber, but they're harder than tempered diamond and slipperier than greased lawyers. The wiring loom has been butchered several times, so sparks and smoke pour out from under the seat regularly. It's a dog of a bike, and like any other canine it's hard to handle, marks it's territory and loves riding in the back of a ute. It goes like crap, but it does go. In fact, it positively refuses to stop!

It's the perfect test bike, because if we kill it, we're doing a public service.

There's just something about a GR than inspires stupid stunts like this...

The entire GR saga >>>