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Bike Review - Posted 8th July 2013
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Suzuki GS1000 Winter Project - Part 5

Duncan Cooper returns his classic GS Thousand to the road after it spent seven years in storage. Now someone wants to buy the thing so he really must get it running right...

In part 4, I'd tried to fix the electronic ignition which it turned out wasn't broken to start with. It seemed I would have to use my rational mind and evidence to find the fault rather than intuition driven by suspicion. With my new familiarity of the carburettors I realised it would be easy enough to take off an outer float bowl to gather some data to work with.

Was the fuel contaminated, had grit blocked the jets...?

No. What I found was even more fundamental. No fuel was coming out of the needle valve, which would certainly explain why the bike wouldn't run. I jiggled the floats, took them and the needle valve out but still no fuel. I wondered if the fuel tap could be blocked so pulled the pipe off the tap. Bleugh! Yuck! Bleugh! So, no problem with fuel getting out of the tap, even though it wasn't getting into the carburettors. Very odd.

I took off the tank and ran a tube from a funnel of fuel straight onto the central inlet pipe of the carburettors. Petrol would come out of the open carburettor now, oh yes.

So what and where was the problem? I'd put a fuel filter on the pipe between the tank and carbs, but that was only about 500 miles ago so I wasn't expecting any problem with it… but wait! Hadn't it been a kind of orange-yellow colour before, whereas now it was a kind of orange-red? It still looked very clean and new but a close inspection showed that the element was saturated with a fine, fine red paste that must have been a mixture of tiny rust particles and fuel. I'd washed the tank out thoroughly so I can only think these particles had been clinging tight to the inner surfaces of the tank but had been shaken free by 500 miles worth of riding and engine vibration. Kind of like a mobile ultrasonic cleaner.

I also noticed that the fuel pipe had been getting kinked by the filter pressing on the airbox so I simply ditched the filter (it seemed to have done its job) and went back to a simple pipe between the tank and carburettors.

Funnily enough, the GS ran just fine again.

It looks so innocent...

I ran the bike round the block and then confidently headed out onto the motorway for a proper test. I got about five miles, feeling fine and howling past cars, before there was a sudden loss of power and I had to bail for the hard shoulder of Death Valley, as that particular stretch of the M60 is known.

The bike died and I spent at least five minutes playing with the fuel tap, choke and throttle position before I could coax the thing back into sickly life and limp back home. It seemed to my deflated and anxious mind that, while crawling back, the bike maybe (or maybe not) ran better with the fuel tap set to 'prime'. When I took off the petrol tank, the age-hardened vacuum pipe to the fuel tap looked loose. So I reasoned that a new pliable pipe would solve the problem.

It didn't.

The engine would tick over fine but once you tried to pull away quickly, or pick up speed, the bike would falter. I was at something of a loss so the GS was shoved to the back of the shed where it could 'have a good long think about what it had done!'

I avoided going into the shed for a month or three but then the advert on the RealClassic website was unearthed by a nice man called Nigel, who 'supposed the bike had gone but was calling just in case…' This call galvanised me into action and, only stopping to advise Nigel I'd be in touch, I charged back into the shed, spanners twirling.

Suzuki GS1000E, running perfectly. You can almost here it if you hold the screen up to your ear... A potential buyer for the bike phoned so Duncan had to force his way to the shed through a blizzard, in search of the fault
GS Suzukis on

As I'd replaced all the ignition components (except for the coils themselves, I suppose) I decided the problem must be the carburettors. Some of the gaskets had been looking a bit ropey so I bought a rebuild kit. I got the carburettors off the bike and in bits once again, and replaced the top and bottom gaskets, the main jets etc, and squeezed the assembly back into place on the bike. The bike fired up and ticked over fine, but a short test ride showed… I'd achieved absolutely nothing! The bike was still very down on power and running erratically.

One set would be cheap. Four sets aren't... Having replaced the ignition system to no effect, Duncan figured the fault must still lie with the carbs so replaced all the gaskets and jets but this didn't help. No, the fault was much simpler

I slept on the problem, which is possibly even better than using rational thought, and it occurred to me that I could run the bike with the points cover off and see what was going on in there. On watching the Vandergraph-like sparks from the points I realised that the new condensers I'd put in had failed.

I put the old ones back in. These were the ones which had come with the points plate, from the breakers, and the GS ran absolutely fine. It continued to run fine on test runs so I called up Nigel to see if he was still interested. He was. He lived far-far away so we agreed to meet-up at my friend Andy's house in Leicester. (No, I didn't take his ultrasonic cleaner back).

I headed out on a cold, late-winter ride of about 120 miles - one final test ride. Did Nigel buy it? Yes he did, so we have a happy ending, except for Andy who didn't get his ultrasonic cleaner back until much, much later. But that's another story.

Suzuki GS1000E, running perfectly. You can almost here it if you hold the screen up to your ear... And here it is, done!

Shall we have a 'moral of the story', or something like that?

I created or imported practically all the problems I've written about due to a dread of not being able to mend perfectly simple faults. All that was wrong was that there was a bit of grit in the carburettors and they needed a clean (perfectly reasonable after a bike had been stood for so long), and that the fuel filter blocked up after the bike was brought back into use (again, perfectly reasonable. Only to be expected, really).

And yet I've replaced the ignition system, had the carburettors in bits (twice!) and replaced all the jets and gaskets at great expense (there are four of them…). I think the moral is that the first thing to do when something goes wrong is to chill-out, use a calm, rational mind to examine the problem and, if the situation allows, sleep on it.

If only I'd known that before. Still, you live and learn. Maybe.


When he's not rebuilding his Suzuki, Duncan runs Bikeheart European Motorcycle Tours. His aim is to guide you on your own trusted motorcycle on a motoring adventure of a lifetime. Bikeheart carefully select their routes to reward those looking for a riding and cultural experience, in regions where the weather should be better than at home. See

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