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10 Key Suzuki Katana Upgrades...

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10 Important Katana Modifications (by Cost-Benefit Ratio):


 
   The Katana 600 (GSX600F), by Suzuki, has been called (to quote one press source) "a boring but capable sports-tourer with teapot styling."  Personally, I think the bike suffers more from the economies of price competition than from inherently boring or poor design. To achieve the price-point that this motorcycle sells for, Suzuki cuts a few corners here and there, and this is to be expected for such a low entry price into the 600 class. Fortunately for us, virtually every such corner that was snipped can be rectified easily (and cheaply) enough to make it a bike worthy of the high praise it commands. Don't think the Can-A-Tuna deserves praise? It ranked 38th in Bike Magazine's top 100 bikes of all time, according to a reader survey of over 10,000 entries (although, to be fair, it was the only bike that made both the 100 best list and the 10 worst bike list in the same issue).
   So how can you justify a bike that made both the best bike and the worst bike list? Isn't that a true contradiction? Well, yes, and no. As it ships stock from the factory, with it's sleeved down GSX-750 motor and lean carborator settings, it's pretty crappy tires and it's generic rain catching seat, it deserves to be on the worst list. But stick in around $700 worth of the following upgrades, and suddenly you have a bike that handles with the best of them, tours like a demon and is good for 600 mile days, accelerates and stops hard enough to catch eyes (and astound your friends who think poorly of the Katana). Basically, installing such upgrades elevates into a new class (and thus, those who have driven it upgraded are the ones who voted it to the best bikes list). The only thing that really can't be cheaply remedied is the curb weight, and for off-track, real-world sport touring, that same weight bias provides a stable, robust sport touring platform, helping soak up bumps and potholes, while keeping the traction going to the road. More-over, if you look closely at the performance specifications, this bike produces almost the same or slightly betters specs than you would find on any early 90's sports 600.
   Now there inevitably people out there who will say, hey why buy a Katana, since this or that model motorcycle is better for (insert desire: long-haul touring, inner-city commuting, canyon carving, weekend beach trips). Actually, it's probably true that there is a better contender in each and every category. BUT there is no other motorcycle as well versed to all of these roles available at anything approaching the same price point, even after you factor in the upgrade costs. You can pick up a Katana for $6250 out the door if you shop wisely (tax, tag, title and transfer fees included), and even cheaper if you're willing to take one a year or two old but still brand new-in-box. Willing to go used? Get one with a few thousand miles in good shape for $4500 or less.
   And then there are the list of pluses that make ownership a dream:
  • No water! A simple, oil cooled engine means one of the primary sources of away-from-home failures has been eliminated.
  • Dual headlights, both high and low-beam, provides better lighting than most sports bikes.
  • Huge underseat cargo storage areas, as big or bigger than any other 1000cc or under bike I've seen.
  • Simple electronics that are wet-weather friendly (won't conk out in a rain storm).
  • The most rock-solid rear view mirrors of any bike on the market.
  • Simple maintenance and cheap service visits.
  • Hyper-reliable engine (based on the GSX750 engine design).
  • 6k to 12k miles on a set of tires (compare that to every 2k - 3.5k on a Hayabusa OR SP1)
  • Low total cost of ownership on a per-mile basis.
  • Doesn't wake (or piss off) the neighbors every time you come and go.

PDF file of "Performance Bikes" Review of the new Katana

Katana Model History (600, 750, 1100)


  

UPGRADE: SUSPENSION
Reset and Tweak for improved handling.

COST: $0.00
TIME: 3 minutes on successive days.
BENEFIT: Improved Handling, sharper turn-in, more confidence.
CONS: Less than desirable handling while figuring out the perfect settings.

DETAILS:
  

The suspension on the GSX600F Katana is set for mass usage in the way that is most safe for the majority of beginning riders, but if you tweak it, you will find that the handling will measurably improve. Recommend changing one setting one notch (at the forks, always match settings between the two forks click-for-click), drive for a day, then deciding whether to keep or reset the change to stock.
 
CAUTION: Whenever you change tire brands, tire models, or tire sizes (either or both tires), reset the suspension to the factory settings (see the owner's manual) and start again. What worked wonderfully with a set of Dunlop 207's is almost guaranteedly not be the best setting for a set of Metzeler ME Z6's.


UPGRADE: REFLECTIVE EMERGENCY TAPE
Install for Visibility to others, reduced accident rates by up to 35%.

COST: $5.00 - $16.00
TIME: 30 minutes to an hour.
BENEFIT: Reduces odds of being sideswiped or rammed by almost 35%.
CONS: If not installed straight, will look tacky. If surface not prepped well, will peel.
 
DETAILS:
   The Katana has great headlights and a good tail light, but from the sides and at an angle, it's visibility could be greatly improved. Locate Red and white reflective tape (like used on ambulances) at the local auto parts store in 16 to 20" lengths. Measure the lower front fork, then cut matching red pieces for the left and right forks, with the lower edge cut at a 45 degree angle. Clean all road grime and oils off the fork (windex and/or lighter fluid), then when dry, install red reflective tape on the lower front fork, so that the front edge of the reflector is parallel to the bike's length, and the back edge of the reflector tape faces the side of the bike.
   Cut another two small rectangular pieces, one red, one white and after prepping surface, install on the passenger foot-peg support triangle (place the red one on the higher support triangle arm). Cut a red and white box and install centered under the license plate mounting, to add reflectivity to the rear.
   Optional: Add another strip of red to each of the rear swing arms, but ensure that you do not cover any of the area the chain adjustor permits the wheel mounting bolts to move through.
 


UPGRADE: CASTROL GPS SYNTHETIC OIL, MOBIL 1 Racing (formerly called MX4T) SYTHETIC OIL, ETC.
Switch oil and filter for longer engine life, higher reliability.

COST: $48.20 - $55.50
(5 Liters Castrol GPS Oil, plus OEM Suzuki Oil Filter)

TIME: 30 minutes, 90 minutes the first time.
PRIMARY BENEFIT: Very good oil protection, better heat-shedding than most motorcycle oils.
SECONDARY BENEFIT: small improvement in power at the rear wheel compared to most oils, reduce mechanical noises, reduce blow-by.
CONS: Once you swap, you'll never want to go back to regular, cheaper oils. Expensive habit.
DANGERS: Over-Torquing the oil drain plug can result in damage to the oil pan. Under-torquing can result in plug vibrating out & oil dumping unexpectedly at speed.
 
DETAILS:
   The engine on a 600 Katana is actually the old oil-cooled GSXR 750 motor with sleeves* (well, on the older engines; the late models have direct-bore cylinders with no sleeves) to choke it down to 600 CC displacement and a different set of valves & cams to change the engine behavior. Without changing the engine internals, the single biggest performance boost you can give your engine is switching to a good quality motor oil, such as Castrol GPS synthetic motorcycle oils or Mobil 1 Racing 4T (formerly MX4T) (doesn't void warrantee if using 10 to 20 weight rated oils in the API SF/SG categories). You'll notice the difference from most types of oil (we recommend driving both immediately before and immediately after the oil change to feel the difference).
 
   To learn more about motorcycle motor oils, read: CyberPoet's How to understand and choose motorcycle motor oils.
*** DO NOT USE API SJ, SL OR SM rated oils, nor any marked "Energy Conserving" in the lower half of the API ring in your Katana/GSXF! ***
 
   For an even more substantial performance difference, you can try Castrol R4 SuperBike Oil (5W-40) (or any other Ether-based 10w40/5w40), but the lighter nature of the oil may induce some pumping or lubrication problems at low RPM's when cold (when the oil pressure is at it's lowest, such as at idle), and it will probably void your warrantee (since it's lighter than Suzuki's recommended weights for the Katana; see Caution, below). That said, I ran R4 as the standard oil in one of my Kantana's for 12,250 miles without any issues as a result that I noticed (high speeds and in the Florida heat to boot!), but I will not recommend to anyone else for street usage and I may have worn my rings down some as a result of using it (got a new, younger Kat so I can't say what happened to that one after the 12.25k miles I ran the R4 -- just that it was good up till then). Castrol has just released R4 formulations in 10w40, 10w50 and 15w50 in the UK; if we're lucky, we'll get the same in the USA one of these days...
 
CAUTION: Do not use Castrol R4 SuperBike oil during the engine break-in period. We recommend using traditional motorcycle dino oils (Kendell's 4-stroke motorcycle oil is supposedly very high in special compounds for the engine break-in period [anti-galling compounds] if I can find it, or I traditionally use Castrol Evo4), and changing them at least twice as often as recommended during the break-in procedure (as well as the oil filter). More often is better, and changing the oil on a new bike at 40 and 100 miles makes sense. The metal shavings generated during break-in scratching the various internal engine parts are the source of most long term performance losses that can be readily prevented. As it is, even well past break-in, I almost always change my oil every 2,800 to 3,000 miles (depending on the type of driving done, given Suzuki's recommendation of 3500 miles or sooner) and have never regretted it.
 
CAUTION: Suzuki's Katana Owner's Manual specifies the following weight oils for use in the '88 - '06 Katana / GSXF engines:
 
SUZUKI'S PRIMARY RECOMMENDATION:
10W-40 (for ambient temperature ranges of -20° to 40°+ C / -4° to 104°+ F)
  I feel Castrol GPS 10W-40 or Mobil 1 MX4T are great choices in that recommendation category, but will endorse any motor oil which meets both JASO-MA and API SF/SG rating requirements specifically (not API SJ, SL or SM!)
 
ALTERNATIVE KATANA OIL WEIGHT RECOMMENDATIONS BY SUZUKI:
10W-50 (for ambient temperature ranges of -20° to 40°+ C / -4° to 112°+ F)
10W-30 (for ambient temperature ranges of -20° to 30°C / -4° to 86° F)
15W-40 (for ambient temperature ranges of -15° to 40°+ C / 8° to 104°+ F)
15W-50 (for ambient temperature ranges of -15° to 40°+ C / 8° to 112°+ F)
20W-50 (for ambient temperature ranges of -10° to 40°+ C / 15° to 112°+ F)
NOTE: This means that NO 5 weight oils are recommended by the manufacturer.

ALSO NOTE: If the ambient temp is going to exceed 104° (F) within 18" of the road surface, you should use a 20W-50. Unsure? Would you burn your foot to stand on the pavement barefoot? Then use the 20W-50.

 
CAUTION: For a reason that only the original engineers can readily understand, Suzuki used a harder metal in the oil drain plug than they did in the oil pan construction. As a result, you can readily over-torque the oil drain plug and strip out the threads in the oil pan if you use too much force, resulting in an expensive repair (replacement oil sump pan: $137.89; matching gasket: $12.88; labor: 1 to 2 hours, plus an oil change, OR at least the hassles of retapping the pan to a larger size plug). Conversely, if you do not install the oil drain plug tightly enough, the plug can vibrate lose and drop out at speed, dumping the motor oil directly in front of the rear tire (which, thanks to one inept mechanic, almost resulted in me running into the back of a cop car one day as I tried to stop for a red light while the rear was sliding around in a hot puddle of oil being freshly dumped). We HIGHLY recommend you use a torque wrench and tighten the drain to the factory specification of: 23 Newton-Meters, or 2.3 kg-m, or 16.5 Foot-lbs (all 3 measures are equivalent).
   Additionally, there is an optional upgrade available that eliminates the oil pan drain altogether -- the
Fumoto Oil Drain Valve. Installation will require cutting away part of the raised ridge next to the oil drain bolt to permit screwing in the Fumoto Valve, but once installed, this latching petcock drain never needs to be removed again -- just lift & turn the petcock latch to open. About $25. And yes, I use one. See KatRiders.com for details on installation and pics.

UPGRADE: METZELER ME Z6 Tires
Swap Tires and get an unbelievable improvement in handling, grip & confidence.

COST:
FRONT TIRE: Metzeler ME Z6, 120/70 ZR17
($86 - $135, depend on source).

COST:
REAR TIRE: Metzeler ME Z6, 150/70 ZR17
($98 - $189, depend on source).

COST:
MOUNTING TIRES: Varies with shop used
(expect $15 - $42 per tire).

BENEFIT: Radically better handling, grip than on the original tires, and then other brands tried.
BENEFIT: Good wet-weather stability, sharper turn-ins, more nimble handling.
CONS: Tires may not last quite as long as some cheaper no-name touring tires. Expect 4.5k miles from the front, 8k from the rear with hard driving.
DANGERS: Your confidence level may get high enough to scrape the fairing during turns.
 
DETAILS:
   Although every factory bike supposedly comes with a special tire designed just for it, the Katana's stock tires are actually about the worst possible in terms of feel and handling. Over the years, I have rotated through various manufacturer's tires (including Michelins Macadams, Dunlop 205's & 207's, Pirelli Diablo's, and Metzelers' Z4 & Z6, among others), and although the Dunlops were a step up from the stock tires, nothing (and I do mean nothing) has provided the razor sharp handling and utter confidence the Metzeler's Z4/Z6 tires provided. The difference was like night and day, nothing short of spectacular. Adding to the noticeable difference between the Dunlops and the ME Z6's was that the tires that just came off the bike weren't thread-bare (but instead had sucked up a nail). I just repeated this upgrade (Aug 2003) with another Katana 600 (2001 model), going from Michelin Macadams to the ME Z4's and again I am left astonished by the radical differences in the bike's geometry, steering and braking characteristics as a result.
   Although Metzeler makes softer compound tires in this design (from the race track soft ME Z1 through the street-sport-touring ME Z4), the power and weight bias of the Katana doesn't really get served by any softer compounds than the ME Z4/Z6. What about the new ME 330/550 tires? Well, they might be good, but they are designed for a lighter weight bike than the Katana is when wet (fueled, oiled) and loaded with an adult rider & possible passenger: stick to the ME Z6. Also remember to keep the tire pressures up - a 200lb rider with gear should be running about 35 psi in front and 38 psi in rear (the Suzuki recommended tire pressures are based on the stock tire and a 140lb rider load!).
 


 

NEW INFORMATION: Metzeler has phased out the ME Z4 and replaced it with a new tire called the RoadTec Z6, designed to fill the same sport-touring niche with supposedly better wet and dry performance. I ran through three sets of Z4's over the years before switching to the Z6's once the Z4's weren't available any more. Although there are qualities of the Z4's that I liked better (specifically the front wheel groove on the Z6 doesn't appeal to me), the tire itself is grippier than the Z4 and should (according to Metzeler) provide both longer treadwear life and somewhat stickier traction in the rain.

CAUTION: We do not recommend that individuals install their own tires, and instead recommend using a professional shop that has proper tire mounting equipment. Always have your tires balanced, and if using an after-market valve stem cover (such as TireFlys), ask they be on the wheel when it's balanced. Also note that some shops charge different rates based on whether you bought the tire from them or not (total profit), and based on whether you bring them just the wheel or the whole bike (differences in labor required to remove the wheel). Do the math and decide if it's cheaper to remove the wheels and deliver them yourself with new tires, or just order tires and drop off the bike.
 
NOTE: You might ask, "what about rain?" Living in Florida, we have torrential downpours through-out the summer months (2 to 5 inches in an hour isn't unheard of), and these tires, at least in a warm ambient temperatures, are amazingly solid in the wet at speed -- better so than any other brand I've tried on the late model Katana's.
 
CAUTION: The single most ignored source of problems on motorcycles (other than maybe the oil level) is the tire pressure. Check your tire pressure each time before you ride (so the tires are cold). Walmart sells a wonderful foot-operated bicycle tire pump with an integrated tire pressure gauge that works like a charm, and lets me easily set the tire pressure. Adjusting your tire pressure upwards and downwards by a pound or two will change the handling characteristics of the bike. Do not run your tires more than 10% under the recommended tire pressure, nor above the maximum rated pressure of the tire, or you may cause a spontaneous tire blow-out (the last thing you ever want to have happen on a bike you're riding).
 
CHEAPEST SOURCE FOUND: The least expensive source we've found in the USA for replacement Metzeler Z6 tires has been American Motorcycle Tire (Americanmototire.com) as of March '05, coming in at $187 + S&H for the pair.


UPGRADE: CASTROL DOT3/4+ GT LMA CLEAR BRAKE FLUID
OR VALVOLINE SynPower CLEAR BRAKE FLUID
Improve brake grip and spot contamination immediately.

COST: $3.50 - $7, bottle of Castrol GT LMA Clear Brake Fluid, or Valvoline SynPower Clear Brake Fluid, any auto parts store.
TIME: 30 to 45 minutes (first time), Front Brakes.
TIME: 15 to 30 minutes (first time), Rear Brake.
BENEFIT: Better brake feel, clear liquid allows you to see aging or contamination immediately.
CONS: Lack of caution could result in getting some brake fluid on the paint, which will ruin it, or in your eyes/mouth/nose.
DANGERS: Letting air into the brakes or not closing the bleeder nipple may cause brakes to partially or completely fail.
 
DETAILS:
   Most riders don't know that all motorcycle brake line hoses are water vapor permeable over time, and that as a result, you need to change your brake fluid every other year (every year in high humidity locations, like Florida). Changing your brake fluid flushes out any contaminants, including water (the most serious brake fluid contaminant) and restores or improves braking feel and feedback. We searched out and found a couple very high temperature clear brake fluids that exceed both DOT 3 and DOT 4 standards (and are compatible with both). Why clear? Because unlike yellow or brown fluids which are difficult to notice a color change in over time, with a clear fluid, you can immediately see if it's yellowing with age. Additionally, it will help keep the brake fluid check windows (the little circles in the brake fluid reservoirs) from yellowing with age.
 
CAUTION: Permitting air to get into your brake line hoses will destroy your ability to stop. Never run the lines dry while flushing the brakes. Consult a service manual for assistance if needed.
 
CAUTION: Because of the locations of the brake reservoirs on the Katana, you do not need any special pressurization tools to bleed the brakes (they are all gravity fed when the bike is up on the center stand, although the correct procedure is to bleed them only under applied brake pressure), but you do need to ensure that the old brake fluid is captured and that neither old nor new brake fluid gets on your paint (brake fluid liquefies paint and eats it). I use a gallon plastic milk jug with one quarter of the top cut out to catch the brake fluid, with newspapers or a plastic drop cloth spread underneath the wheel to catch any excess.
 
CAUTION: When pumping brake fluid, upon releasing the nipple, brake fluid can spray out under pressure and get into your eyes, nose or mouth. Always wear glasses or goggles to protect your vision, and keep a rag over the nipple to prevent spray from shooting onto you. Apply the brake pedal or handle by hand, then quickly open & close the nipple to release some fluid under pressure. Repeat at each of the three nipples until all old fluid has been replaced.

UPGRADE: CORBIN GUNFIGHTER & LADY SADDLE
Improve Seating Position, handling by shifting Center of Gravity (CG), and make passengers happy campers.

COST: $259, plus S&H, straight from Corbin.
TIME: 10 minutes.
BENEFIT: No more back pain. No numb butt after even 8 hours of riding. Better seating position. Better handling. Reduced wind drag. Less wrist strain.
CONS: Once you put on a saddle, you'll buy one for every bike you own from here on out. Leather requires conditioning every month or so.
DANGERS: Failure to specify your inseam measurement may result in a seat too wide for you to comfortably touch the ground, if you are already close to that limit with the stock seat.


DETAILS:
   A typical rider rides on the seat that came with the motorcycle until it falls apart or they sell the bike. The stock seat, although fairly nice, is a far shot from the comfort and position possible with a great saddle ("Gee, what's the difference between a saddle and a seat? A motorcycle seat is something you sit your crotch on, a saddle is something your butt rests across. Think horses and saddles..."). Corbin's Gunfighter seat is available for all years of Katanas built, and offers a radically change in seating position, including lowering the actually position downwards for better handling by changing the center of gravity (and also spreading out the seating area wider).
 
   General rule of thumb: if you ride more than 25 minutes in a stretch on a regular basis, or if you tour more than 200 miles at a stretch once a year, or if you have a girlfriend/wife/co-rider, invest in the saddle...
 
   It also is a much better seat if you tend to carry passengers (they will love you for it). When you order your seat, you can specify without surcharge, colors of the leather in different areas of the seat, and we find color-matching the horn of the saddle to the bike gives a very nice effect and looks far classier than the stock seat.
 
SOURCE: Go straight to the manufacturer's Katana page at Corbin.com.
 
NOTE: Although both I and my other half love the corbin seat, the optional seat-back for the rear passenger was never able to be adjusted vertically enough to be worthwhile (even with a visit to their factory in person). As a result, I am loath to recommend spending the extra $$ for the optional removable rear-passenger seat-back, and I constantly ride without it.


UPGRADE: TOOL KIT UPGRADE
Reduce the odds of getting stuck somewhere unexpectly.

COST: $15 - $150
TIME: Shopping Time.
BENEFIT: Never get stuck at the side of the road for something minor.
CONS: None.

 
DETAILS:
   Suzuki puts the typical small tool kit under the Katana's seat and it's fine for the most rudimentary repairs if needed, but there are a number of tools lacking. Fortunately, the seat has loads of space under it (even with the Corbin saddle mentioned above) compared to almost any other motorcycle, and more than enough space to pack a proper tool kit.
 
   So what do you need to add to your pack? Well, it depends on the person, but here's what I carry (in two zip-lock freezer bags, one inside the other, tucked behind the stock tool kit in the cubby by the rear light):
  • Leatherman WaveTool - a step up from the old Leatherman multitool. Knife, pliers, saw, etc.
  • 15 feet of 12 gauge wire - in case a wire fails en route or I need to fabricate a solution
  • MiniMagLite (small, bright flashlight), with a spare bulb and the batteries carried outside the flashlight (so they don't drain)
  • Two small shop rags, clean
  • A small pair of Vice-Grips
  • A set of Metric & SAE Hex keys (the mounted type, so I can't lose them in the dark)
  • A sealed windshield wipe, presaturated (for cleaning off bugs from the visor when in the middle of nowhere).
  • A dozen plastic wire zip-ties
  • About 15 feet of safety bailing wire (to tie down lose items, etc).
I also carry a photocopy of my driver's license (in case I forgot it at any point or lose my wallet -- and as proof of motorcycle ownership if it's ever stolen) & the registration, in a Zip-lock freezer bag, duct-taped to the underside of the seat/saddle.
 
   For longer trips, I throw a set of stubby wrenches and a socket set into the front compartment (Lowe's carries a Kobalt 18 piece metric socket set with all the needed sizes that, even in it's carrying case, fits into the front cubby with a bit of room to spare, but tight in one direction). A few strips of beef jerky, sealed, some quarters, and a thermal space blanket (folds down to 1" x 3") rounds out the long-distance touring pack.
 
SOURCES: Varies, depending on the item.
 




UPGRADE: Ivan's Performance Products STAGE 1 JET KIT
Improve Acceleration significantly across the board (I believe this is a better upgrade than DynoJet's/K&N's by far).

ALTERNATIVE UPGRADE: K&N / DynoJet STAGE 1 JET KIT
Improve Acceleration up to about 110 mph at the cost of the top end speed.

ALTERNATIVE UPGRADE: FactoryPro's STAGE 1 JET KIT
Improve Acceleration in general -- I have not tested this jetkit, unlike the other two.

ALTERNATIVE UPGRADE: ENRICHEN YOUR MIXTURE WITH THE STOCK JETS
Improve Acceleration by a smaller amount across the board.

 
COST: SRP $129 - K&N/DynoJet, FactoryPro or Ivan's Stage 1 Jet Kit
COST: EST $250 - Install Stage 1 Jet Kit and set, balance carbs by a mechanic; do it yourself for pennies and spend some of the extra $$ you saved on a carb sync, such as the premier one on the market (Morgan CarbTuneII).
COST: EST $0 to $120 - Enrichen your mixture on your existing jets (parts, time, manual).
TIME: 1 to 4 hours for a good mechanic, depending on how much adjustment needs to be done.
BENEFIT: Ivan's: Powerband change to significant increased power from idle to about 9,940 RPM
BENEFIT: DynoJet: Powerband change to significant increased power from about 2,500 RPM to about 9,800 RPM.
BENEFIT: Much faster acceleration/decelleration (RPM Changes).
CONS: Gas mileage drop to 110 - 130 miles per tank (not including reserve).
CONS: More likely to gain points on license.
CONS: DynoJet: Less power above 10,000 RPM, thus loss of some top-end speed (i.e. over 110 - 115 MPH).
CONS: Louder exhaust sound, deeper grumble (might be a benefit or a con, depending on viewpoint).

DETAILS:
   Motorcycles destined for the US, Canada, and Europe are set at the factory to have very lean fuel values in order to ensure emissions compliance with all requirements in the various countries as the bike shipped from the factory. This lean burning mixture rate deprives the motorcycle of easily feasible power. You have two options: resetting your existing carborator jets to enrichen the mixture (so as to provide more gasoline vapors to the engine), or swap out the jets & needles that control the mixture with larger jets and redesigned needles. Such swap-outs come in stages of improvement, and stage 1 is the only stage you can use with the existing factory exhaust (a stage 2 will require replacing the exhaust headers and exhaust pipes with new ones designed for that stage of kit, stage 3 requires replacement of the headers and the air intake system).
 
   I would suggest going the cheaper route first and seeing how that serves you. Access your carborator and reset the mixture adjustment screws about a fifth of turn to enrichen the mixture (make sure you turn all the screws exactly the same amount to retain your carboration balance between the cylinders). Afterwards, go for a ride and check for any bogging down that would imply you either turned the screws too far or any hesitation that would imply you turned the screws in the wrong direction.
 
   If you're not comfortable handling such delicate carborator work yourself, order the jet kit and then have a shop professionally install them. Whenever the jets are changed, the carborators have to be rebalanced, aka "Sync'd" (set to each provide the same vacuum level to each cylinder, since there is a carborator for each individual cylinder on the Katanas), and this will factor into the shop time required to do the work. Much of the time will be spent getting to the carbs, and reassembly after the work.
 
   Out of the JetKits I have tried, Ivan's Stage 1 kit is by far the best, and the least likely to require any additional tuning after installation, given stock exhaust and intake systems. If you have an aftermarket exhaust header, freer-flowing exhaust can, and/or modified air intake system (such as a K&N filter or air pods instead of airbox), additional tuning will probably be necessary, and the fastest/easiest way to have it done right is the use of an exhaust gas analyzer and dyno to permit the mechanic to see exactly where in the RPM ranges the fuel-air mixture is lean or rich.

CAUTION: Gasoline is both extremely flammable, explosive, and mildly carcinogenic. Exercise appropriate cautions when working with carboration, fuel, fuel-air mixtures, and/or any flammable materials in general.
 
NOTE: For rough comparisons, see the following dyno charts which compare stock to stage 1 and to stage 1 plus a new matched exhaust system. Note that I am not specifically endorsing this firm's products (having never tried them, I can't vouch for them personally): Dyno 150 charts.

UPGRADE: Added Cargo Space/Luggage
 
OPTION A:
UPGRADE: GIVI HARD SIDED LUGGAGE
Carry a couple suitcases worth of space for touring or work.

EST COST: $150 (mounting system, PL525 or PL518), $239 (each bag, E360), total: $630
GIVI Rack Mounting System plus two color-matched 50 Liter Hardsided Bags.

TIME: About 2 hours to install the GIVI mounting system (includes relocating the back blinkers), 1 minute to mount/unmount bags.
BENEFIT: GIVI: Take along enough clothes to stay gone a week easy, even in cold weather. Big enough to hold two medium sized full-face helmets or 2 grocery store paper bags (full) plus two gallons of milk -- per bag!.
BENEFIT: GIVI: Bags are removable (with key), and blinkers get relocated to a higher, more visible position even when bags are not mounted. Bags are weatherproof!
BENEFIT: GIVI: Bags have reflective strip all around them (about 1.5" wide), and bags are color-matched to your existing paint exactly.
CONS: GIVI: When bags are in place, drag causes attainable top speed to drop by 12 to 20 MPH (expect to cap off around 105 - 110 MPH).
CONS: GIVI: Must remove rear grab rail permanently, since Givi mounting system uses same mounting location, but bags have top-sided grabs for passengers.
 

OPTION B:
ALTERNATIVE UPGRADE: SUZUKI OEM REAR RACK
Carry a couple paperbacks or a helmet on a small rack that replaces the rear grab rail.
[NOTE: Obsoleted from Suzuki inventory in 2004]
ALTERNATIVE COST: $62.95 - Suzuki Accessory Rear Rack.
TIME: About 10 minutes for the Suzuki accessory.
BENEFIT: Suzuki Rear Rack: Give yourself a place to strap down school books, a small bag, much cheaper.
CONS: No weather protection, tiny size (8.5" x 5").
NOTES: The two options (A & B) can not be mounted together, since they both utilize the same mounting points. Givi also makes an optional top-case mounting system (to go with the side cases) that holds another 60 or 70 liters, but I think the system wasn't offered for the Katana last time I checked.
 

DETAILS:
   The Katana is considered a "Sport-Touring" motorcycle (as verses to "Street-Sport" like the GSXR). It's forte is long distance riding at fairly high speeds in comfort, and when combined with the various upgrades on this page, it becomes an extremely capable touring machine. But, if you are going touring, you are going to need some way of hauling around your clothes, toothbrush, etc., and in that sense, the softsided luggage available on the market just doesn't really provide any great benefit over a big backpack. Enter Givi, an Italian company that makes what I personally believe are the world's best hard sided luggage for the japanese market bikes. Available in 30, 44 and 50 liter sizes, these hard sided bags latch into a mounting system that stays on the bike. How big is 50 liters? Um... two medium full-face helmets butted up next to each other. A week's worth of clothes. Two gallons of milk, plus two paper grocery bags packed to the gills. And that's per each 50 liter hard sided bag! Moreover, the bags don't have to be in place, so you can just use them when you need them and leave them at home the rest of the time. Each bag has it's own lock (be sure to order your bags with matching locks, so one key opens both), and the lock must be used to remove it from the mounting system (keeps people from making off with your bags at restaurant stops, etc).
 
   The only down-sides really are that they are pretty pricey (about the same cost as good samsonite luggage), and their size drops the top-end speed of the bike when they are mounted to around 110 MPH by virtue of added wind-drag. Really pricey as far as upgrades go. But they are generally worth it, and definitely worth it if you tend to go cross-country or longish distances (or the Katana is your only vehicle and you need to go grocery shopping for more than a backpack's worth at a time). The bags also make an excellent place to hide your other half's birthday/christmas/anniversary present when they are at home in the closet, because she'll never open them without the key...
 
What to know: Givi lists the PL525 as the correct mounting kit for the side-mount bags for the 2002/2003 Katana 600/750 models. Givi's reps also say that the firm stopped production on the PL525, so they are no longer available in the supply chain. What they don't tell you is that the PL518 is an effective and capable solution, although you may have to change the washers and/or bolts included (in terms of length/thickness). From my own experience, I installed the PL518 on a 2000 Katana 600 and it was a bear to fit according to their instructions (until I figured out that I needed to replace the included nylon spacer bushings with much thinner replacements from my local hardware store, and grab a couple bolts that were longer or shorter than the stock ones used on the rear grab rail by 1/4" -- then suddenly everything lined up correctly).
 
UPDATE: Installed the PL518 on the 2001 Katana 600, and it worked correctly without flaw and with the included bolts & washers from the kit, although it was a bit tricky an install. So, even with the revised rear foot peg holders on the 2001+ models, it still works correctly. Cool!
 
Other thing to know: in addition to the bags and the mounting kit, you'll need the following things to do the installation properly:
- 12 feet of 16 gauge automotive grade wire;
- 6 feet of 3/16" 2:1 heat shrink tubing per side, to cover a pair of the above wires (or 3/8" and two layers of it);
- A small tube of black silicone exterior grade automotive caulk;
- 12 black wire zip-ties, 4" or longer.
 
The installation will require rewiring the blinkers so that they have substantially longer leads (the rear blinkers sit out on the outside of the mounts, higher and wider than their original position -- which [BONUS] makes them much more visible as well). To do this correctly, they need to have additional wire soldered or crimped to them to span the distance, the heat shrink tubing covering the wires (because they will be exposed to the elements); the black silicone caulk is used to fill the place the wires exit the blinker assembly to prevent water intrusion (since it's no longer inside the fairing); and the wire tires are for routing the cabling around the bag mounts so they neither flap in the wind, nor get pinched by the bags or bodywork.
 
   Suzuki's Rear Rack upgrade is just a convenience, but one that might be worthwhile to you if you tend to use the bike to go to school, etc. It gives you a small area (8.5" x 5" as the top surface) to strap things down onto, just right for a gym roll or a couple paperbacks. Personally, I think that's too small to be useful at all, really...
 

NOTES: The paint on the GIVI bags isn't as hard as the paint on the bike, and thus easier to scuff or scratch. The bags themselves are made of ABS plastic and are quite resilient to damage.

CAUTION: If using the GIVI bags and one bag is loaded heavier than the other (or you are only using a single bag at the time), make sure to place the heavy bag (or sole bag) on the left side of the bike (the side that the side-stand comes down onto), and always reattach the heavier bag first and remove it last. This will keep the bag from causing the bike to come off-balance while parked. Only applies if your bag contains heavy items (like tools or a big bag of dog food). Not an issue when the bike is on it's center stand.


UPGRADE: Headlight/Tail light flashers, Running Lights
Install for Visibility to others, reduced accident rates by up to 20%.

COST: $29 - $200
TIME: 30 minutes to 2 hours.
BENEFIT: Reduces odds of being rear-ended, or lane-changed into.
CONS: Not all systems fit the Katana -- be sure to buy the right size & kind the first time around.
 
DETAILS:
   Certain modification to the lighting system improves visibility of your Katana. Under US Federal DOT laws, you are permitted to use a flashing white headlight oscillator during the day that cycles your headlight from low-beam to high-beam and back again a couple times a second. Carefully ignoring the law slightly will permit you to mount an actual white stroke flasher in the headlight casing, which is even more visible (and tends to cause people to get out of your lane because of the subconscious thought that you are a cop -- but may get you in trouble with the law enforcement in your area). Note that this system is not legal for night-time usage under US Federal law, and thus must have a switch or light-sensor to regulate it for when you drive at night.
   Similarly, you can install tail-light flashers that oscillate the brake light when you apply the brakes. There are different kinds out there, but the best we've seen flashes quickly for the first second, slower for the second and then becomes a steady on after that (the pattern is designed to specifically attract driver attention from behind and signal that they really need to slow down). There are also LED bulbs designed to be brighter than standard taillight bulbs, but the bulb-retention hole in the rear lights do not fit the oversized bulb casings that are usually associated with LED bulbs. We do sell a customized version of the 98 - 02 tail assembly that comes with an oversized 48-LED bulb.


 

NOTE:
   I used to recommend use of TireFly's and TireFly Pro's -- until several issues made me change my mind. Although the add visibility is good, I have watched them literally rip a tire stem out due to the added weight/stress, as well as seen damages to rubber tire stems as a result of using them. Subsequently, I changed my mind about their use -- the risk of an unexpected almost instaneous tire deflation due to a failed stem is, in my humble opinion, NOT worth the benefit of the added visibility.
   There are passive rim decals now available on the market that use high-relection grade materials (think ambulance emergency grade reflective tape) precut to fit motorcycle rims, as well as reflective clear paints that can be added over existing rims, as well as reflective-return additives for powder coating that can be used on rims. I am going to recommend these instead.
 


 
 

 
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