Brawn and Brains: 1979 Suzuki GS1000S “Wes Cooley Replica”

1980 Suzuki GS1000S L Side

Back when fast motorcycles were defined by two chief virtues: speed and stability, the Suzuki GS1000S was one of the speediest and stable-est of them all. A hulking motorcycle with four air-cooled cylinders, it formed the basis for Suzuki’s AMA Superbike racing efforts, and riders hustled the big brute around with surprising skill.

Until this point, Japanese big bikes had largely been freight-train like straight-line monsters, but the Zook brought a new trick to the party: handling. The GS1000 wasn’t the fastest of the Japanese liter bikes, but it was a real jack-of-all-trades, with a stiff frame, and solid brakes. It wasn’t particularly light, but then neither were its rivals.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S R Front

Race bikes were developed by the famous “Pops” Yoshimura and ridden by Wes Cooley who’d previously been using Kawasakis in their racing efforts, to middling results. But the new GS1000S put them on the podium and the won the AMA Superbike Championship in both 1979 and 1980. The S was originally intended for the European market, but was available in limited quantities in the US, with just 500 imported in ’79 and 700 in ’80.

Although never officially named as such, the S model became known informally as the “Wes Cooley Replica.”

1980 Suzuki GS1000S L Front

From the original eBay listing: 1979 Suzuki GS1000S for sale

This Suzuki GS1000S is my baby, bought new in Reno, Nevada in 1979. I rode this great bike often during good weather for about 10 years, putting weekend fast road miles on it throughout the Sierras and into Washington, Oregon and Idaho, without any issues, malfunctions or failures of any kind. During the past 20 years or so she has been my second bike, most often superior in most ways to the newer bikes I bought, and sold, always less impressed with them than with the all-around qualities of this Ballerina Queen of the road. Among the bikes which have come and gone from my garage, a wonderful 2005 red Suzuki Hayabusa and an equally stellar lime green 2005 Kawasaki ZRX1200R which were great, but never instilled the passion in me this old Suzuki has. Still immensely capable canyon carver and sports-touring ride but my garage is full and she needs a new home. I am not interested in selling this bike to anyone not intending to keep it…. I love this old bike and hope to find a good home for her.

He also lists updates and maintenance that’s been done and is obviously a sympathetic owner. With 35,000 miles on the clock, this is clearly no garage-queen, but these are built like tanks and it should have plenty of life left in it: Suzuki’s big four cylinder was a mainstay of drag racing for years and could handle all sorts of boost and spray without exploding. Interestingly, the 997cc motor was a development of the GS750 engine, but was actually lighter than its smaller sibling.

1980 Suzuki GS1000S L Rear

The four-into-one exhaust is not original, but I think it looks great and definitely makes the bike look a bit lighter and more modern. Interestingly, the list price for the S was $3,679 when it was new, just $20 less than the Buy-It-Now price… This is a very fair price for a very handsome, practical machine.

-tad

1980 Suzuki GS1000S R Side

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4 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    For such a caring owner, alot of things are missing. Instrument panel, mirrors, stock exhaust, and center stand, some thing doesn’t add up. Owner says he doesn’t have them, claims they disappeared into the ether. I would want to inspect this personally

  2. Aaron says:

    Can someone comment on the seat? Aren’t these supposed to have a slightly stepped seat?

  3. tad says:

    I’m pretty sure they went to a stepped seat for the 1980 model year. 1979 was flat. There were a few detail changes between the years.

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