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Cult bike Suzuki GS 400

Hit the mark

The four-stroke late starters from Suzuki had exactly one shot to score points in the attractive 27 hp class in 1977 – and hit the bull’s eye with the equally complex and solid 400 twin of the Suzuki GS 400.

AT.hen the tiresome taxation based on cubic capacity was finally abolished in Germany, some manufacturers got caught on the wrong foot. From then on, the lower middle class reached a maximum of 27 hp, the tariffs did not even open up financial holes for apprentices or students, everyone wanted to buy. Right away. Some continued to offer nervous 250cc for sale, others warmed up their old two-stroke engines, some forced multi-cylinders into the new profile using technical strangleholdings.

Cult bike Suzuki GS 400

Hit the mark

GS 400 proceed smarter, because the 180-degree twin already showed good prerequisites for a sovereign performance characteristic due to the generously poured displacement. The rest was not done by the usual carburetor stops or manifold throttle orifices, but by modified camshafts. Just as it should be from an engineering point of view.

The chassis of the Suzuki GS 400 was considered the best in its class

The engine is closely related to the four-cylinder of the Suzuki GS 750 presented at the same time, and even several identical parts can be found. Soon a 550 Four joined them, and this trio put an absolutely sovereign four-bar on the floor from a standing start. On the Suzuki GS 400, the crankshaft rotates in three roller bearings and one ball bearing and drives the balance shaft positioned in the front of the housing via a spur gear set. Back then, not everyone had something like this, six gears were also rather rare, not to mention valves operated directly by means of bucket tappets and two overhead camshafts. Their round housings with their cute lids are a characteristic of the filigree drawn engine, with a mixture of familiar (chrome front fender) and new (seat back) elements, the Suzuki stylists packed it extremely advantageously.

Actually, only the oversized indicators are not the right measure, but at the time everyone wore such huge parts. The chassis received a lot of praise, not least thanks to the needle bearing of its swing arm, it was considered the best in its class, neither 34 nor 27 hp ever embarrassed it. The open version develops a very happy temperament and turns cheerfully into the red area that begins at 9000 rpm, the throttle variant purrs extremely predictably through the speed range and simply closes at 8500 rpm. Either way, the crank drive, which is dimensioned for the 750 series, is as little required as the gearbox or other vital parts, and that’s why the small Suzuki GS 400 – you could hardly believe it back then – with good care for 100,000 km . This fact did not go unnoticed in their country of manufacture either, so the Japanese shot themselves at the Suzuki GS 400 when looking for a cult 70s bike: If you are looking for a rendezvous with your own youth, you prefer to do it on an early GS with sparkling wire-spoke wheels, whole shiploads went from Europe back to the island kingdom. But you could have guessed something like that, because when Suzuki replaced the successful model in 1980 with the more modern GSX 400 and the GS 450, the people grumbled until the old two-valve engine was allowed to run for another three years. Cult here too. Only earlier.

All articles about the Suzuki GS 400


On the move with the Suzuki GS 400

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Details and technical data

Cult bike Suzuki GS 400.

Data: Air-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, 398 cm³, 20 kW (27 PS) at 7400 / min (optionally 25 kW / 34 PS at 8500 / min), 27 Nm at 6600 / min, six-speed gearbox, double loop frame made of tubular steel, weight 185 kg with a full tank, Front tires 3.00 x 18, rear 3.50 x 18, tank capacity 14 liters, top speed 144 km / h (unthrottled 166 km / h), 0- 100 km / h in 7.2 seconds.

Scene: A lively scene around the early GS models from Suzuki has long since established itself in Germany. Unfortunately, due to the Japanese interest in the 400 series, this has to rely mainly on the four-cylinder. Good specimens of the 400 twin are practically sold out, but if one does appear, things rarely go below 2000 euros. The not quite so elegant, but at least equally independent GS 450 E with the basically same, but clearly more powerful engine can provide consolation.

Info: The book market has little to offer on the subject, and the repair instructions from Bucheli Verlag can only be found antiquarian. It is better to get information from the Internet. First, the very well-made website should be mentioned, but there are also many suggestions on

MOTORCYCLE Classic: Our sister magazine had a great Suzuki GS 400 story in issue 8/2014.
Re-ordering of the issue under 07 11/32 06 88 99, the article and the corresponding PDF can be found here:


On the move with the Suzuki GS 400

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