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Suzuki XF650 ‘Lady O’ by Vence

Posted on October 6, 2014 by Scott in Scrambler. 14 comments


Written by Ian Lee.

Forgotten sibling syndrome, it’s an issue which I’m sure some of us can relate to. Having to grow in the shadow that someone else’s limelight casts, with little view to catch attention. This in no different in the motorcycle world, with today’s feature bike an often overlooked stablemate to the ubiquitous DR650, but in the right hands shows it can offer a far superior option. Coming out of the Vence Prodigal workshop, this Suzuki XF650 Freewind has had a full makeover, with the final result leaving it’s sought after stablemate looking a little less desirable. With much pleasure we would like to introduce you to ‘Lady O’.


Flavio Cortiano is a builder who loves potential, with motorcycles having been his “passion since forever”. Specialising in customising the less popular models, the Italian bike builder knew that he could do something with the bike he rescued from a hard life at a motorcycle training school. Once it rolled into the Vence Prodigal workshop, the XF650 was stripped down and the work began. Flavio found his initial inspiration while studying a Moto Guzzi Lodola fuel tank, deciding the Freewind would make a great base for a sweet scrambler project. Once the bike was pulled down, the motor was completely overhauled, with the cylinder head given the CNC treatment by MaxMotors. On reassembly, the factory ECU gained a piggyback unit in the form of a Nikki XF650 specific plug-and-play.


The reborn thumper takes advantage of it’s awesome engine noise by running a brand new stainless steel exhaust setup, allowing the bike to sound as good as it looks. To help lower the temperature in the oil cooled powerplant, an oil cooler featuring a larger exchange area was custom made. Peppered throughout the bike, you will see the original OEM bolts have been chromed, with any additional bolts supplied in brushed stainless. The fuel tank, side covers and light covers are all courtesy Metal Bike Garage, while the guards are aftermarket units. One cool touch Flavio has built into the bike is the ability to swap the tail section of the body, with the removal of four screws and disconnecting an OEM plug, the aesthetic can go from scrambler to a shorter ‘cafe style’ seat.


To give the bike a more sporting stance, the front end has been overhauled and the rake changed to reduce the wheelbase. At the rear sits a Wilber 641 suspension system, allowing for an adjustable wheel base. The wheels are factory, re-anodised and shod in Metzeler rubber, the brakes are overhauled OEM units with Frentubo piping. The control setup is attractive yet functional, the bars are flat track LSL with KungFu natural grips. The bar ends have been CNC cut from one  solid block, while the throttle control is a beautiful Tomaselli Gold unit, blasted and painted to suit the look of the bike. The foot pegs and controls are Gifrap supplied, while the sprocket cover and headlight supports were made inhouse at the Vence Prodigal workshop.


From abused learner bike to the final product you see here, this XF650 has certainly been given a new lease on life. Big thumper sound, old school scrambler aesthetics, and the ability to change the look when required, has produced a sweet and useable ride. With so much thought put into the build, it has helped with the quality of the final product. Although we love the idea of the interchangeable seat which instantly gives the bike a different look, we much prefer the classic lines of the flat scrambler seat. Which seat setup do you prefer?




  • John in Pollock


  • Richard Gozinya

    I like it. It just looks like a very fun bike to ride. Like a really happy puppy that wants to play.

  • al gonz

    ….eeeeehhh ufffff, looks nicely done but the seat is horrible (specially when I don’t even see the passenger’s foot pegs, why so big?) and the handlebars makes no sense either! This doesn’t belong here

    • TJ Martin

      I’m rather inclined to agree …… on all counts .

      • CRF

        Why do you put spaces before your fullstops?

  • arnold

    Love to have it for a daily driver. I would go for a different paint color, rather than bare metal. Better visibility for the ancient (I am only old) cagers in this neck of the woods.

    I reflect on my comment a bit and realize its obvious bias. There are some real shithead young cagers as well.

    • John Keegan

      It is with a heavy heart that I am requested to inform you that both my shithead young Camaro driving daughter and my ancient F-150 driving father-in-law resent the resemblance thereto. Sadly, Sharon was unable to avoid running over your bike while making a u-turn to see if dad was okay after T-boning you.

      You forgot implement the use of spoke reflectors.

  • John Keegan

    The questtion was asked “Which seat setup do you prefer?” With appreciation for the effort, my choice in this instance would be for the way it left the factory. And that goes for the entire build.

    • Dave Coetzee

      Totally agree – word for word.
      Reminds me of a cross between an early ’70s Honda SL125 and the late ’70s Yamaha IT175F that I had.
      I think the original XF650 was called a Freewind, here in South Africa.

      • John Keegan

        Had to think about that a while. IT175 wingding x’d w/a thumper. Then looked at the IT175 Trail. Stance, check. Headlight, check. Number plate, check, headlight cowl, check. Slanted thumper 125, check. Funky ’60’s seat,check. Okay, got it.

        But I thought Freewind in South Africa was a reference to a rhino with lactose intolerance.

  • Trainwreck of style ideas. Got to choose a theme and stick with it. Nice bike to start from though.

  • made me smile so yes i like it

  • Woodie

    Brilliantly done, but that seat…. especially that Cafe seat, ugly as sin. It’s dimensions just doesn’t fit the easthetics if the rest of the bike. a great bike let down terribly by one bad component

  • Biff

    Looks better without the tail section. The tank gives it a short, lumpy appearance. I am sure it would be fun to ride but it ain’t pretty.