The Suzuki GSXR 400 is an often forgotten model amongst the first generation of the GSXR range, however like many of the smaller capacity machines of this era, many have forgot why they existed. Many motorcyclist who are new to the biking scene probably don’t realise that Japan has always aggressively taxed large engine capacity bikes, where an engine capacity 400cc or above currently attracts significantly high tax.

Higher tax may not be an issue for the wealthy enthusiast, however for most motorcyclists in Japan it represents a significant financial burden. Japan’s domestic market for motorcycles has always been high, therefor as western appetite for sports bikes started to influence Japanese culture, Japan’s motorcycle manufacturers started to develop sleeved down versions of the larger capacity machines.

If you have a route around in the internet you can find good examples, such as Kawasaki’s ZZR400 and GPX400. These were essentially the same as the 600cc export models with sleeved down engines to meet the Japanese tax laws. However as time moved on we started to see many more Japanese domestic market only 400cc sports bikes, designed specifically for Japanese customers. Japan’s appetite for building domestic market 400s fluctuated a lot during the 1980s and 1990s, with a mixture of sleeved down 600s and home market pocket rockets like the CBR400, ZXR400, GSXR400, and VFR400.

Many of the Japanese home market bikes were imported to Europe as ‘grey’ imports, and quickly began to grow a following for their superb build quality and superb handling. These bikes also found their way into the lightweight racing series, competing against more agile two stroke 250cc and 125cc machines.

Suzuki GSXR 400 for sale on ebay

If you are looking to buy one of these 400cc pocket rockets, originality and servicing is extremely important. Some of the rev limits on these small capacity bikes was extremely high, and poor maintenance could easily lead to an engine detonation. The home market 400cc machines often shared fewer interchangeable parts with their global market cousins, so beware of bodges as a consequence of poor spares availability or ‘home tuners’.

Also beware of bikes sporting shiny bodywork with tired looking mechanicals and lock wire holes on sump bolts etc. This is a clear indication of a bike that has seen track time and been rebuilt with shiny bodywork for a sale.

This 1985 Suzuki GSXR 400 ‘GSX-R’ looks in very good order and a honest bike with sights of wear over the years. The chances of finding a completely spotless example is very low, however it isn’t unknown for a bike to be found crated in a warehouse decades later. Joining a fan forum can also help you understand the differences between models over the years, and what to look out for regarding expensive parts.

Many owners would have dumped to the original exhaust for a race system, which saves some weight and may provide a few more horsepower, therefor trying to find an original exhaust system can be very expensive. This example looks completely stock, and not something to be discarded.

Restoration and maintenance of your GSXR 400

If you are looking to service and maintain your bike, it is always worth planning ahead regarding any specialist tools and equipment. The last thing you want is snapping an engine stud and having to drill our bolts because you didn’t use the correct tools. We put together a workshop tool article which may provide some inspiration for building up your garage and tools. If you are starting to feel the aches and pains of working on the garage floor, a bike lift will save you hours of aches, pains, and swearing when you have dropped a bolt on the floor and have to rummage around in the fairings to find it.

If you are looking to purchase this lovely looking GSXR 400, please let us know how you get on with the bike and what you are planning to do, ride and enjoy? Full restoration? We’d love to know. You can share within the barnfindmotorcycle community within our pinterest, facebook, instagram, and twitter social media pages.

Ride safe,

Al (barnfindmotorcycle.com)


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

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