I had bought my 400/4 Honda due to a bit of a financial problem, not because I wanted it. Its hard to fault a bike that did not far off 40,000 miles in only 18 months without any problems. But I wanted more!
1978 saw me approaching a milestone birthday - 25 years old. I was now in a well paid job, single and living with my parents so I had no real expenses other than petrol and motorcycling.
Suzuki had just launched their GS1000, £1800 on the road for the first model. It had to be done. I had also tested the new Yamaha XS1100 but I found it too big and heavy. The GS1000 was one of the first really good handling Japanese Superbikes. Another thing that happened was that my insurance premium actually went down. At the time the Norwich Union Rider Policy was half price once you got to 25. In those days you could get an unlimited cc rider policy, fully comprehensive insurance for any bike belonging to anybody - try that nowadays!
Motorcycle World manager Ralph personally delivered it to me on my birthday, which was a Sunday and took my 400/4 away. The next week was spent running it in so that I could try it out when I went to the Isle of Man for the TT the week after that. Life was good!
Even running in this was a fast bike compared to what I had been used to, I had to rethink a lot of my riding habits and get used to the extra performance. I survived the TT including Mad Sunday but to be honest would probably have enjoyed it on the 400/4 just as much and not frightened myself as often.
Once I got home again I put the bike to work long distance rallying. My first rally on it was the Claymore at Strathpeffer. The next week started with a local one, the Magnet in Leeds, but then we went down to the East Essex at Hadleigh Castle near Southend. The week after that was down to Cardiff on Friday then on Saturday to the Devils Weald near Brighton. And so it went.
Petrol consumption was quite good if you were sensible and 50mpg wasn't hard to get but 35mpg was possible just as easily! Like the time I averaged 100mph for 100 miles - Birmingham to Exeter going to the Exe rally.
I had to have the bike dealer serviced at first due to the warranty but later I did a deal so I was allowed to do the interim oil changes myself as I was knocking up so many miles.
I really enjoyed having my GS thou but then they brought out a shaft drive GS850 and Ralph offered me a good deal so after 12 months and over 20,000 miles it was 'goodbye'. No problems but I had used several tyres and a chain and sprocket kit (not cheap!).
Back to a sensible bike.
- Ted Trett