How to Customize a Suzuki Katana

by Chris Gilliland

Although it was eventually replaced by the GSXR series, the Katana has been a mainstay in Suzuki's two-wheeled arsenal since it made its show-stopping debut in 1982. Relegated to sport-touring duties, the Katana is still a competent sport bike and can hold its own against its competitors. But to maintain a razor-sharp edge against today's supersport motorcycles, the Katana needs a few performance upgrades.

Performance Upgrades

Replace the stock air filter with an aftermarket high-flow air filter. An aftermarket air filter allows a greater flow on air into the combustion chamber.

Install a high-performance jet kit in the carburetor to balance the air-to-fuel ratio.

Replace the restrictive stock exhaust system with an aftermarket system. This can be accomplished by either by replacing the factory muffler with a less-restrictive slip-on type muffler or by replacing the entire system.

Install a quick acceleration sprocket kit. Usually consisting of a slightly smaller front sprocket with a matching rear sprocket and drive chain, these kits improve low-end torque for explosive acceleration. Top-end speed, however, may be diminished.

Replace the stock tires with high-performance tires. Durability and traction that could only be found on race bikes are now offered by many modern sport bike tires. Increased grip on the road will allow you to feel more planted at speed.

Chassis/Suspension/Brake Upgrades

Set your bike's suspension sag. This will adjust the front and rear suspension to your exact weight and will make your bike's handling and response better than ever.

Replace the standard fork oil with thicker fork oil. This will improve the sport riding feel and damping capabilities of the front fork. On the down side, the ride will feel harsher and will absorb less road abnormalities---do this only if touring isn't a priority.

Replace the standard steering head bearings with aftermarket tapered roller bearings. Standard ball bearings wear out over time, preventing your front fork from pivoting smoothly. Tapered bearings are design to be wear-resistant and to withstand the demands of high-performance riding.

Replace the stock brake lines with stainless-steel brake lines for improved feedback. Additionally, stainless-steel lines resist expansion as fluid pressure builds providing more power to be transmitted directly to the brake caliper.

Upgrade the stock brake rotors and pads. Wave-type rotors offer increased surface area for brake pads to contact while effectively dispersing heat.

Appearance Upgrades

Replace the stock windscreen with a dual-radius, or double bubble, windscreen. Offered in a rainbow of tints and colors, these windscreens have a raised area to deflect the wind over the rider's helmet, reducing wind-buffeting and neck strain.

Replace the bulbous stock turn signals with flush-mounted LED turn signals to streamline the appearance of the bike while maintaining visibility.

Apply custom paint work to the motorcycle. This is the single most effective way to make your bike stand out.


About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.

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