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1979 Suzuki GS750 – Tin Shack Restorations

Posted on April 21, 2013 by Andrew in Brat, Racer. 31 comments

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that many custom bike builders and shops sometimes also dabble with custom cars. Less café, more drive-in diner you might say. If you ever follow the links to the builders websites in the stories we post you’ll undoubtedly see the odd hot rod, classic Porsche, or muscle car lurking around in the background. But what did take us by surprise was the way Colby Morris of Tin Shack Restorations gets his four-wheeled kicks; he has a burning desire to bring old Land Rovers back from the dead. And if this is the kind of bike that gets made when these rubber boot and pheasant hunting types aren’t, er, pheasanting then it’s fine by us. Presenting ‘a series Land Rover and motorcycle hobby run amok,’ here’s a ’79 Suzuki GS750 they call the ‘Tin Shack Special.’

“I’ve owned or ridden some form of motorcycle every year since 1968, the very first being a Rupp Roadster; a 5HP beast!’ says Tin Shack’s owner, Colby Morris. “I raced motocross for several years, and went to road racing school but never made it to a starting grid, I think I’ve owned pretty much every kind of bike – dirt, enduro, standard street, several crotch rockets, big adventure bikes, couple of Harleys, and a couple of full custom choppers. I also picked up a Series Land Rover habit about twelve years ago. First just driving, then improving, then modifying, and now frame up restoring.”

“The idea for the Suzuki came a little over a year ago after an old motorcycling friend told me about your site. I literally stayed awake at night (far too late some nights), scanning through your archives. I was just finishing up a particularly nasty (lots of rust repair) Rover project for a gentleman in New York and needed something fun to do.”

“I was just finishing up a particularly nasty Rover project for a
gentleman in New York and needed something fun to do.”

“I found the Suzuki on the local Craigslist, a 1979 GS 750L with just over 10k miles. The “L” model was not my first choice but it was close to home and a nice running bike; all I had to do was scrap the sissy bar, chrome luggage rack, tear drop tank, and mini ape hangars and I would have something. I wanted to end up with a bit of drag bike/cafe racer look – a point and shoot bike.”

“The bike was stripped to bare frame, wheels were powder coated black and Avon Speedmasters mounted. The first tank was an ebay gs 750E model that turned out to be a GS 1100 tank, didn’t fit, next up was the ubiquitous Benelli tank, it wouldn’t fit either so I cut out and rebuilt the backbone of the frame; I now had a cool tank with a top mount wing nut off of my early 70’s Gios Torino track bike. Tarozzi clip-ons and rear sets were ordered, along with Pingel switch gear to clean up the handlebars. The 70’s vintage dirt bike fork brace was another eBay find.”

“I have an old 1966 Bridgeport vertical mill that I used to mill down the top triple clamp, make an exhaust hanger, and carb hose manifolds, and cross drill the rotors. The brakes were treated to new EBC pads and Goodridge stainless lines courtesy of Z1 enterprises, and I replaced the reservoirs with Tygon tubing. Everything not necessary on the frame was shaved off and a rear hoop was bent up and welded on. I made a stainless tray that would fit flush to the frame under the seat cowl and house all of the electronics, including a Ballistic Evo battery laid on it’s side.”

“I made the seat cowl out of 14 gauge 6061 aluminum; it’s three separate pieces shaped, then tig welded together. The welds were ground down then filed flush, I then polished the cowl, I love the raw aluminum look, it takes a ton of time but well worth the effort. I’m sure I’ll take some flak for the seat as it’s nothing but superbike seat foam that gets the job done. Remember, point and shoot drag bike – no cross country rides on this one. The paint is Mini Cooper Royal Grey flattened a bit, with hand lettering done by Charlie Decker of One Arm Bandit Pinstriping.”

  • BoxerFanatic

    Lots of information, and a nice looking “point and shoot” bike.

    I was hoping to find out something about the exhaust muffler, though. Somehow the simple cylinder shape and the ‘just right’ length, even the matte black high-temp paint look good. I am not sure if it is double walled and baffled inside, but it looks like it could be.

    The workmanship on the aluminum cowl is very nice, and the flat shape is a bit different than most.

  • Blackfriday

    What is the size pf the rear wheel? I have a 1978 GS 750 and it comes with a 18″ rear wheel?

  • Thanks for the comments guys. The rear wheel size is 16″, the bike came with a 17″ wheel (odd size, no idea if it was original), but I wanted to put the beefy Avon 5.00-16 on the bike. I found the wheel on EBAY, the seller stated it came off a 1981GS 750 L, but who knows…… was an EBAY gamble on my part that worked out, everything (rotor, sprocket, axle, spacers) lined up/fit perfectly.
    The muffler/exhaust is made by Mac………kind of cool that they’re still making 4-into-1 systems for these old GS’s, however it does take a while to get if you don’t like chrome (months). The can does have a baffle, not much of one, but it’s there. It has a pretty low/quiet idle and acceptable noise levels until about 3/4 throttle, then it starts to sound like it should IMHO.

    • nathas909

      Thanks Tin Shack, not enough builders jump in on the comments and give some feedback, opinions or knowledge of their build.
      I am glad you took the time to.
      And dam nice bike by the way. The style is spot on to what I like.

  • Hmmm, am I a brat or a cafe, I’m just not sure…
    Other than that, I like it.

  • I think this looks every bit as good as any CB750. I’m just wondering, wouldn’t it have been easier to make the tank fit the frame rather than the frame fit the tank? I also love the fact that bits are found here and there and turned into something cool.

  • ramon deathisbeautiful

    love it!

  • ramon deathisbeautiful

    the land rover looks bad ass too,didnt even know old land rovers existed. hah

  • nathas909

    I love the stance of this bike. The color combo and the general tuffness of it. It is my kinda bike, not too shiney not to rusty. Apart from the old front fender I would not change much at all.
    Nicely done.
    The fifth photo down is just brilliant.

  • Bananaman

    Really beautiful bike, especially love the quality of the workmanship in the finer details.

    I was wondering where you got that headlight and the brackets from? It’s got a really nice shape and suits the brackets very well. Again just love the finer details i can tell you put a lot of thought into every part of the bike.

    • Thanks for the kind words. The headlight is actually the stock unit. I had the bucket painted BMW Jet Black and used a medium Scotch-Brite pad to knock down the chrome on the old trim ring to give it a pewter-like look. The brackets are a MotoLanna item……very high quality pieces out of Thailand. Available in several different sizes, order now for your next build……..they take a long time to arrive (MotoLanna is right up front about that on their website)………I had actually given up and started milling my own when they finally showed on my door step.

      • Bananaman

        Thanks very much, I’ll be sure to check them out.

  • ZackG

    Great work Colby! To all others – I can absolutely attest to the quality of this build. There’s not a square inch on this bike that you’ll question workmanship on. It is truly top notch.

  • Marcel Cifuentes

    Thnx for the info @tin shack, I really like the 5.00-16″ tire I’ll check ebay! Not a lot of parts to choose down here in Venezuela

  • Chris Gillham

    Cool honest bike. Really like the amount of detail regarding parts and process from the builder (plus comments), way more interesting than douchey hipster talk about how he “let the spirit of the bike build its self” or some such diatribe followed by over produced out of focus film with a sound track from a band that is so Indy/underground it only gets played on obscure online radio that three people listened to once.

    • Thanks Chris……….this got a lot of laughs in the shop!

    • As a douchey hipster myself, I take offence to your remarks. By the way, have you hear that new album by Tame Impala?

  • Do I spy a Vermont plate? Do you actually live there or did the bike come minus the title? Love the build. Absolute quality.

    • Good eye Eric………I am in Vermont, where a smile and a bill-of-sale gets you a plate, reg., and a license to run whatever you want!

  • Fishbulb

    First time commenter…great use of Royal Grey! I had an RG MCS and I loved it… (oh, great build too!

  • Name

    Great job Colby! Meticulous attention to detail as always! You’re worse than I am..or at least Karen would think so! Lol!

  • Erich Wacha

    looks good

  • J_T

    What forks are these? Similar to stock but since so much above the triples, couldn’t imagine Stockers having that much extra length? Thanks for sharing…this has been a true inspiration!

  • Ned

    I really love this bike! Did you paint the white lettering on the tires yellow? It has a cool old school look to it

    • Peter Longtine

      I was planning on using the same pipes on my L….if you don’t mind sharing…what does you carb jetting and tune look like?

  • Holy Roller

    I am almost positive that the exhaust is manufactured by Mac. Check out their website and look for products for this year and make. Not a lot of options but this exhaust is available in both flat black and chrome.

  • top

    very nice bike i ever seen before. could u tell me about the petrol tank. where did u get it from i would like to have one like it. it was build by hand or u took from another bike. thank you

  • David

    Amazing Work, but what the FUCK means “F–K” ?

  • Harmen Hoogesteger

    what kind of rims did you use?

  • Ty Andrews

    hey Tin Shack what kind of tiresome on the Tin Shack bike I’m building a GS850 and love those tires i have the same rims.. 🙂


    Slick bike! What speedometer is that? Better yet do you know what the speedometer ratio is?