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‘GS-XY’ Suzuki GSX1100 – Ed Turner Motorcycles

Posted on December 15, 2016 by Andrew in Racer, Tracker. 29 comments

Written by Marlon Slack.

Karl Renoult heads the curiously named custom shop Ed Turner Motorcycles, in Nantes, France. We’ve been following his builds for the last few years but nothing has prepared us for his new project. And this only one half of the enterprise, a mid-eighties Suzuki GSX1100 forming the ‘masculine’ part of a matched ‘his and hers’ pair of custom rides. Designed to reflect their owners’ love of high fashion, clubbing, and possibly sadomasochism, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. After a close look, I’m not sure if it has a kill switch or a safe word.

I’m also not sure why Karl picked the name ‘Ed Turner’ for his workshop. For those unfamiliar, Mr Turner was a prolific motorcycle designer and the head of Triumph Motorcycles during the halcyon days of the 30’s and 40’s. I’d be very curious to know what the very esteemed, very British and very proper engineer would think of this bike.

If nothing else, I don’t think he ever started a build like the way Karl did. Rather than the usual slow accumulation of parts or time spent carefully considering drawings, Karl started the build process by visiting the house of his clients to gain a better understanding of their aesthetic. “It was full of leather and luxury brands. One of which I cannot cite,” Karl says. Looking at the myriad of skulls and leather stitching I’ve got a few ideas, but I’ll leave them for now.

Nice birdies

A closer look at the photos can only hint at what he found inside the den of iniquity that his clients must live in. The Suzuki GSX1100 has some of the most curious and left-of-centre ideas I’ve seen incorporated on a build in a long time. Much of which involves leather.

And for Karl, that was the main problem with the build. “There was nothing very hard to do,” he says. “We just tried to make something elegant and with a lot of details.” The metalwork and fabrication seemed to go without a hitch but getting the leather work just right was harder. “The main difficulty was doing a ‘male’ looking bike with this sewing style. That wasn’t so easy.” Not much about BDSM is, Karl.

“the high fashion-cum-eurotrash-cum-BDSM-cum-cum aesthetic is pretty damn special.”

All those adornments, the skulls and stitching and zippers sit on a bike that, even without the high fashion-cum-eurotrash-cum-BDSM-cum-cum aesthetic is pretty damn special. The frame has been heavily worked, a new fuel tank fitted and Buell front wheel mounted, replete with ‘Ed Turner’ cut into the discs. It’s a brawled-up modern take on a streetfighter, all powered by an overhauled, blasted, polished and engraved powerplant whipped into shape by Karl and his friend Gael from Pocka Bike.

Even I have to admit that after a while many custom bikes start to look the same. There’s only so many variations on the theme one can look at before the lines become a bit blurred, like Firestones struggling to find traction on a damp afternoon. But Ed Turner have created A Suzuki that, whether you like it or not, is very different. Even if I’m not sure if I’d ride the bike or it’d ride me.

[Ed Turner Motorcycles: Web – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by Francois Richer]

  • John in Pollock

    I would like it a whole lot more without the 1988, Skid Row, love-me-harder leather bustier shoelace strap garbage- and ix-nay the kitschy skull and crossbones while you’re at it.

    Other than that- its pretty rad.

  • the watcher

    Easily the most intriguing of the ‘European’ builders. Another stonker that’s right up my alley (as it features one of my all time fave motors) from E.T. Top Titties (that’s a Watcher Gold Star).


    where is the battery?

    • Spyker May

      Next to the front fender…

    • Andrew Zehler

      Under the swing arm mount

    • Next to the ex rocker coke whores

  • lace before you race ! this left me in stitches

    • Let’s just say that Karl’s sense of humour is rather well developed. Other would just call him nuts. We call him ‘charismatique’…

  • well…the pipes are cool.

  • Jeronimo

    Clearly the shop’s name would be a play on words for the French, who when speaking English, commonly pronounce the letter “H” as silent…

    • Clearly. But we’ve touched on that in past articles, so we though we’d take a different (and less well known) angle this time around… 😀

  • Fantome_NR

    Love it. Aside from a front fender, I’d like a second brake rotor and caliper up front, on a bike with this much power.

    • the watcher

      It’s a rim-mounted “disk”; I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a twin version, and it was deemed adequate for the 150+ mph Buell 1135.

    • Spyker May

      “…this much power…” And how much would that be?

      This “beast” of the ’80’s could not muster much more than 100hp standard. Tweaking may get it to a reliable 120hp. Today a midsize, two-cylinder, Ducati Monster, does a 100hp on the milk-run.

      The rim diameter brake rotor is employed for exactly that purpose, it provides significantly greater reaction torque, to do stopping with a much smaller brake caliper. The downside = greater weight, but of the worst kind on a wheel, namely rotational mass.

      Eg Arlen Ness offers an aftermarket rim-dia-brake-rotor-assy, for heavy touring bikes, very smart me thinks…

      • Fantome_NR

        It’s been my understanding that everyone who owned a Buell with these brakes has said that they suck ass and were one of the major flaws in those bikes. Also, my 1986 yamaha srx 600 has dual discs. The monster you mention has dual discs. Any decent bike that weighs more than 300 pounds and has more than 60 hp has dual discs. Harley guys don’t even use their front brakes, so Arlen Ness using them on his customs isn’t much of a reference. This is for looks. Which is fine, they do look cool. What I’m saying is that if it was MY BIKE, I’d want a real braking setup. And a fender. Thank you.

        • xb12r

          As my moniker gives away, I had a Buell for 4 years/35000 km. These brakes most definitely do not suck ass (although appropriate for these bikes and their theme…)
          I could potentially see the benefits of dual rotors if it was a dedicated track racer, but even in the regular cut and thrust (pardon the pun) of daily commuting and a couple of days a week de stress run through the hills, the brakes were never an issue for me. A well set up Buell will pull stoppie after stoppie, and has the most confidence inspiring front end of any bike I have ever owned…

  • Racing Enthusiast

    Without a chain guard, won’t the rider get flagellated if the chain breaks?

    Or is that also a “Feature”?

  • AB

    Yessss – I’ve been waiting for something like this to appear.

    • You’ve been waiting for a slammed BDSM GSX Suzuki with leather stitching to appear? Huh?

      • Fantome_NR


      • AB

        Don’t forget the skulls!

  • the watcher

    All these comments and barely a word about this cosmic scoot. Nit-picking and “ooh err, missus”; just look at it. I would seriously like to try it out, and I’d wear a sodding basque if I thought it’d get me a ride ( ooh bloody err, missus)!

  • Spyker May

    The (Hea)D Turner has clearly hit a formula that will TIE him down for as long as he can string out GS1100’s and find primary colors to dawn their short-blocks.

    GS1100 motors are nothing short of anvils on acid – it is likely the crest of the breed (the air-cooled in-line four cylinder) – and IN LINE with what Honda is doing (CB1100RS) – Suzuki can literally dust off the production BOM’s, replace the appropriate with modern electrics, put new pipes on to march past the front-line of the Green-Gestapo, brace the frame (courtesy of de nos jours FEA software), paint it and sell it.

    Sweet build – worthy of being yet again a key attraction in THE RIDE.

  • guvnor67

    Thees bike iz a real ‘ed turner, non?! Fanastique! Tres bon!! Even though I’m not keen on themed bikes (um,OCC) I love this! Ed Turner builds are stonkin mad and hav more character than a room full of nutters .. With whips and illegal pharmaceuticals!!!

  • A genuine piece of moto art

  • Fantome_NR

    “I’m also not sure why Karl picked the name ‘Ed Turner’ for his workshop”

    He has explained this before, it is a French “jeu de mots” (pun, basically). The French don’t pronounce the letter “H”, so when you say “head turner”, as in “this bike is a real head turner!”, with a French accent, it ends up sounding like “Ed Turner”. There is no doubt that this bike is a real Ed Turner, it has their incredibly distinctive and provocative styling. Personally, while I might quibble with some of the choices they make, I consider them to be among the most interesting and leading edge builders in the world, right up there with Max Hazan and Kimura-san. Their CX500 is my favorite custom on that platform. The XLS and cb400 are also tops.