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1980 Suzuki GN400 – Holiday Customs

Posted on October 22, 2012 by Scott in Brat. 56 comments

It’s hard to believe it has been over two years since we featured Holiday Customs first bike. Since then, they’ve attracted a lot of attention over the years for their fine wrenching work – in particular, their trademark Schwinn inspired Yamaha XS650. Jared from Holiday Customs has always been good at saving old bikes from extinction by recycling parts he finds around his garage. His latest project is this clean and simple single-cylinder Suzuki GN400. “I found the GN in Portland Oregon, but the bike shows some signs of being in Virginia at some point of its life.” says Jared. “There’s still a Virginia beach army parking sticker on the fork”. Instead of removing the sticker, he decided to retain this little clue to the bikes history.

Thanks to some great Oregon weather, it took a little bit longer than usual to get this project started. Here’s Jared to explain the build: “It’s a 1980 Suzuki GN 400 that we found and sat around for a while this summer while we took full advantage of one of the driest summers in Oregon since I’ve been here. I rode alot of dirt and put alot of miles on my Schwinn style  XS 650. The GN didn’t put up too much of a fight, it was pretty solid to begin with. I’ve done a few of these brat style bike’s so I stripped it down and started cutting and cleaning. After all the metal work was done I gave the seat pan off to Ginger at New Church Moto.”

“This is no show bike, like most of my bikes I’m taking old found parts and making functional motorcycles that I think look good. This one doesn’t have as many of those parts as usual though. It has a Harley headlight, Ducati/Brembo master cylinder, modified XS650 rear fender and some Harley muffler that I found. The rear tire is a Firestone and the front is a Dunlop k70. It has the stock carb, no battery, as it just runs off the mag. This little thumper is a blast to ride, makes me want to build one for myself soon.”

Yes, it’s no show bike, and I’m pretty sure there will be the usual comments about the lack of blinkers and the infamous pipewrap/firestone combo – but at the end of the day, it looks like the kind of bike that would put a big grin across any riders face. And that’s what it’s all about. This little thumper is currently for sale, so if you fancy a stripped back single, then get in contact with Jared at Holiday Customs. As for Jareds next build, he’s building another Schwinn style bobber, but this time for a lucky chap in the U.K.

  • caramelCHOMP

    I enjoy this.

    • hi scott, can you tell me if that is the original tank,as my tank has a leak on it, and thinking of changing it over to some other tank that i can find that fits ? much appreciated.
      awesome looking bike
      cheers martin

      • Yep, its the stock tank. It was stripped of its original maroon paint and clear coated.

        • Hi scott
          Where is the battery ? Did u do without it?
          Also what shade of silver is the tank painted with
          Thanks again

          • I’m guessing you didn’t read the story. No battery. Runs off magneto.

            Btw I didn’t build it. Again, read above article.

          • Adrian Sadler

            Love the bike… I was wondering what you jetted the carb too ?? I’ve been looking into building one, and I can’t seem to find a straight answer.

  • Papa Turf

    I love it. I should’ve built one just like it instead but I’m too big. Very cool.

  • $52244477


  • nick

    any suggestions on someone to build on like this in australia (brisbane)

  • mtiberio

    finally a slab seat with a bit of character…

  • love the scale of this bike and the no bells and whistles approach.

  • Brown seat with black grips? What a fashion faux pas.

    • Oldnbroken

      3 down score…….Oh well, it made me chuckle.

    • Mister Oddjob

      Made me smile too.

      • Well, some people get jokes and others don’t. What can I say?

  • revdub

    Nice and clean. Holiday’s XS bobber is still my all time favorite. So many have been built, but there’s is above the rest, in my opinion.

  • bjax

    Nice. About as minimal as you can get. It’s also good to see it being ridden.

  • LP

    newbie, what does mag mean? ( battery comment)

    • Mike Cambareri

      Magneto. It’s an honest question, since it’s tech that that hasn’t been used in factory bikes in the ’60s…

    • Grendel Medlord

      Magneto (not the comic book vilan). I’m no expert but its a type of electrical generator. I think most bateryless setups have the magneto conected to a capacitor. When you go to start it you have to kick it once to charge the capacitor, then kick it again to actually fire up. Oh and it’s kickstart only.

    • Mister Oddjob

      As others have said it’s short for magneto. It’s pretty much an alternator, but it produces pulses of electricity, which makes it a good choice for a simple ignition system. I know it was used on mx bikes at least until the late 80s (when I owned a Yamaha YZ) but probably much later than that. I’m nearly finished the build on a heavily modified GN400, so I am very familiar with this particular model. The electrical system is very similar to what you would find on a Yamaha XT500 or Honda XL350, but with electronic ignition (no points), which is a very unusual setup. The ignition (magneto) is a completely independent circuit from the charging system, so removing the battery has no effect on the ignition system. The headlight is part of the ignition circuit though, thus runs on AC power. If the power isn’t regulated, its very easy to blow headlights with high revs on this type of system.

    • LP

      Thanks for the help guys.

  • Great proportions – looks bigger and chunkier than it really is – check out the last photo. I like the big tires – it gives the bike a real bulldog stance. This would be a great little city bike. Super build.

  • myatt

    whats the helmet ?

  • Félix Thiodet

    What kind of tires are those ?

    • The rear tire is a Firestone and the front is a Dunlop k70

      • Patrick

        Can you please tell me what tires you have? What Dimension are they? I want to Buy the Same but i cant find the size and Type.
        Sorry for the bad english, but i am German and i learned only School English.
        It will be great If you can give me a answer.

  • Mister Oddjob

    I like the stripped down simplicity and the way this bike looks, but as the owner of a custom GN400, I see mods on this bike that make me wonder how well it works. The elimination of the compression release lever means only a handful of strong people will be able to kickstart this thing to life. And a pod filter, straight exhaust with the stock carb? I hope it was at least rejetted, but even then the stock CV carb on this bike doesn’t work well with a pod filter.

    • jez

      CV carb works fine with a pod filter, after you’ve got a watchmaker to drill the mainjet out. As for the compression release, I run a nail welded to the lever at the engine end

  • Emma Arcuri

    That is not the original GN400 tank right? .

  • Oldnbroken

    Anything with a single cylinder and a single pipe gets my attention. This is the look that inspired me to modify a broken old bike. Built to show but not for show.


  • I like it. I like everything about it. If it were mine and I were to change anything, I would try clip-ons on the bit of fork sticking up above the triple tree. Never seen it before and it would bring the grips just a little lower.

    • Don’t forget to change the color of the grips! lol ;^}

  • I LOVE THIS BIKE! I was wondering what kind of work you did to alter the frame if any? I just got mine running and cant wait to dig into it!

  • Jocke

    Im in love! The GN400 is quite hard to fint but I´m searching for a SR 400 to build the same kind of bike. Great job!

  • Bitchen bike! Is there anyway i can get the information on the simplified wiring system you used?

    • These are basically old dirt bikes.. They do not need a battery to start / run and are kick start only so the necessary wiring is very minimal when you aren’t running gauges or signals.

  • Ricky Murphy

    What Harley headlight?

  • mpnagle

    got one of these …work in slow progress

  • tpod

    I have a GN400 that I want to do something like this with. It was my first bike and I know all it’s ins and outs. One thing I notice on this is the lack of a compression lever on the handlebars. Did you move it somewhere less noticeable? Also, what’s the disadvantage of not having the battery other than no lights before starting it?

    • Jez

      These bikes have three electrical circuits
      One, the ignition which is entirely self contained
      The other two were for the battery and the headlight which ran independently of the battery. If you just run one of the last two and tape the other shut you get a jump to 13 volts. You can run a thirty five watt headlight, AC horn and rear lights on a really basic wiring loom. If you use diodes for the tail and brake you can run maybe 60 watts on the headlight. I used to with standard tail bulbs, but you didn’t want to dawdle with that set up…. All you need is a AC voltage regulator. Don’t know what it’s like in the states but all that stuff is easy to get in the UK

      • Dan

        Just about to start putting back the wiring on my slightly brat/bobbered Gn400. is there any write ups on how to wire the bike without a battery. read somewhere you can put in a large capacitor in place of the battery to ‘fool’ the system in thinking that it has a battery..?

    • Jez

      As to the decompressor You just weld a nail to the engine end and flip with your finger

  • djmet9861

    Are they the standard wheels? What are the tyre sizes

    • maurice

      Great bike building one my self but I can`t get a gn400 rear spoked wheel any one got one to sell and ship to the uk. Many thanks. maurice

      • dave

        I am in the final stages of building my bike looking rather good now and running sweet with the jetted carb and strait through pipe I I have luckily got the spoked wheels on mine but I was toying with the idea of changing them I have just stripped a honda cb 250rs and the wheels off that would have been better than the originals 18 ” front and rear and they have alloy rims instead of chrome and a wider profile ..the only issue was the front wheel was buckled so stayed with the stock rims in the end but if ur struggling to find gn wheels check out the honda cb 250rs 🙂

        • maurice

          Hi Thanks for the reply.It took a while but I have now found one in Wichita Kansas. I did not want to change the size in fact I am laceing a rear rim to a front hub to get 16″. Thanks again. maurice

    • maurice

      Yep rare standard wheels

  • maurice

    Hi. Thinking about it if you want to sell your wheels I would be interested. For the next one. cheers. maurice

  • maurice

    Hi yes it is. Hard to find I think it is only on the us model. That’s the only place I could find mine.

  • JT Carter

    Love the bike. Is there any way you can tell me where the seat came from or how to make one like that?

  • popper

    koo man i have the exact same bike i want to were did u get that seat man