Retro: Suzuki GSX-R50 GAG

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“Gag” as in joke, not the object, reflex or order. Realizing the
potential for misinterpretation, Suzuki issued an official definition:
“super fun for teenagers and boisterous adults with a spirit of
adventure and a sense of humor.” Released in 1986, the Suzuki GSX-R50
departed from conventional Suzuki wisdom by being down on power and
available in pink.

The GAG’s problem wasn’t necessarily that it used a 49cc engine, it was that it used a four-stroke 49cc engine that only produced 5bhp to the comparatively rocket-like 7.1bhp of the two-stroke Yamaha YSR50. Normally, that’d have been enough to condemn the GAG to obscurity, but it had good looks, some of the coolest paint schemes Suzuki’s ever made and this obviously brilliant domestic market ad campaign on its side.

A near exact miniaturized replica of the then all-conquering GSX-R750, the GAG used a steel perimeter frame, a Showa monoshock and front forks. The seat height was just 24 inches to the 750′s 31.3-inch height, while the wheels were tiny 10 inchers.

Period road tests fall all over themselves to adequately convey the GAG’s lack of performance, apparently it struggled to reach its 30mph top speed and shifting through the four-speed gearbox did little but alter the engine’s flat exhaust note. Luckily, Yoshimura offered a range of engine upgrades or you could even fit a larger, 120cc engine good for almost 10bhp and a 55mph top speed.

Perhaps an even more significant than its lack of speed compared to the YSR was the Suzuki’s lack of US road legality, confining it to parking lot and pit bike duties only.  The Yamaha was road-legal as long as you stuck to surface streets. In 1987, the GSX-R50 retailed for $999.

Our interest in the GAG doesn’t come from its performance or price though, but it’s looks. Aping the GSX-R’s fairing, but subverting what would otherwise be functional machoness with tiny proportions, the GAG is a very literal take on sportsbike-as-toy, something most of its larger relatives are anyways.

While the pink is a little bit silly, the other color schemes are the embodiment of awesome. The fighter plane would likely appeal to Suzuki’s existing demographic in this country while the red is understated and classy with its white highlights and wraparound “Suzuki” logo.

  • the_doctor

    I grew up riding an YSR50. That thing was so much goddamn fun. That 2 stroke would wind and wind. I did my first stoppie on it.

  • K2theM

    Um… Want? Yes!

    But! I’m a Honda guy at heart.

  • jonb

    They even had zombies, way ahead of the curve. Red wrap around for the win.

  • HankG

    Why are all the models Caucasian in a Japanese domestic advertisement?

    • Big Mick

      Not so – Elvis is clearly Japanese (and rightfully so). I’m more confused about the trumpet playing bird, and the fact that the racer can’t find a helmet that fits. Why can’t Harley do funny ads like this ?

    • Michael

      Why are they all Caucasians in Manga and Anime?

  • Michael

    Right click. Set first picture as Desktop Background. Thank you HFL :)

  • Barry

    The YSR with an XR100 engine in it is a pretty potent Formula 7 bike for our club. If only it had real tire choices, it could pretty much own F7 and potentially F6. The thought of riding one on the street NEVER occurred to me. I’d ride my CRF150 on the street if they’d let me though. It’d be a LOT more fun than any scooter I know of.

    All that said, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one of the GAG’s.

  • CafeRacer1200

    What was the name of the shop that made all the go fast parts for the YSR50? Was it Team Calamari? I wonder if they’re still around. I’ve only seen two of these GSXRs in person. One was pretty ragged out and the other was for sale at a shop for $4295.00

  • john

    I had one of these back in the late ’80′s. It was a blast around the neighborhood and I wish I never sold it (of course I can say that about 25 other bikes). Nice!

  • toeCutter
    • pdub

      The itty bitty NSR’s were the shit in this category but damn hard to find and really expensive. I don’t remember the little Suzuki very well but the YSRs were legion. My first plated & blinkered street bike was an NSR50. Sooo fun as a get around town bike. Really learned to gear dance keeping that little two stroke singing. The racing was really fun and funny as well. I remember at SIR in Seattle how they had a little infield mini track around the last turn before the straight. Mostly YSRs a couple NSRs and occasionally something else italian or frankenstein’ed. IT was like the clown circus during the main circus. Lightened the mood of the serious club racers as the mini riders could ride those bikes way over the edge that no one but a real GP star would do on the big bikes. Wheelies coming out of corners before the bike was vertical, vicious passing, massive rear sliding into corners (standing on the brake of course). Hell I remember on guy on an NSR that slid into and wheelied out of EVERY corner and winning. Hilarious!

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  • Martin

    I have owned since new a 1987 Blue and White Suzuki RB 50 GAG. It is has always been road registered in Australia and I used it on occasions for many years. I’s rarity is that it is probably one of the only ones fully fitted from new with a genuine Yoshimura race kit. Pops only made a handful of these and I suggest it could be one of the only examples left in the world. Pipe and performance are wicked.
    Happy to sell it some day as my knees aren’t what they used to be…