How to Install the Wider Rim on a 1980 Suzuki GS 1100

Produced from 1980 to 1984, the Suzuki GS1100 is still a collector's motorcycle with a powerful draw. While stock tires and rims allow for adequate handling and performance, many enthusiasts feel Suzuki should have provided wider rims and tires for better stability and handling. Suzuki did, in subsequent models, such as the GS1150 that followed the GS1100, and the GS550F it still produces. Installing wider tires on the older GS requires some skill and creativity.

Tools Used: Tape measure, Metric tool kit, Tire machine

Install the Wider Rim

Measure the distance between the edge of the rim and the swingarm on both sides. Spaces should be equal if the tire is aligned properly. This is the distance on either side you have available for wheel clearance.

Measure the distance between the tire and the swingarm on both sides. Divide the number you get in half. This will be the actual clearance you have for a larger tire. Keep in mind tires swell as they heat up, especially at higher highway speeds. Clearances less than half an inch on each side should be avoided, or tire failure may result in serious injury or death.

Remove the rear tire from the motorcycle, and measure the diameter of the axle, and the distance across the rear of the swingarm. When shopping for a larger rim, ensure that the hardware from your old rim will mount to the new one, and that the axle will fit the bearings, and the distance across the swingarm will be the same. Using a lower profile tire on the new rim will give you the maximum clearance and handling.

Have a custom swingarm or rim manufactured. If the measurements and the rim that will fit in the current swingarm do not meet your needs or desires, have a custom swingarm built for you. While expensive, if you are building a drag bike or other custom application, this may be the best way to achieve your desired results. When having custom parts built, bring the old parts with you, and ensure all measurements are accurate before the part is made. Often, these parts cannot be returned.

Tips & Warnings

Installing a tire and rim larger than what clearances will allow can result in serious consequences. Measure carefully, and if the tire and rim combination you have chosen do not fit properly, remove them and do not operate the motorcycle until proper parts have been installed. Tire failure, bearing failure and other mechanical failures can result in serious injury or death. If using a used rim, inspect it carefully before installation, and do not install if its integrity is at all questionable.

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