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‘94 Suzuki DR650 – Blitz Motorcycles

Posted on June 25, 2015 by Andrew in Tracker. 16 comments


Struggling to find a donor motorcycle for your next build? Asking prices for ratty old SR400’s making your shake your head? Refuse to spend all your time and money on a glorified old Honda commuter? Thankfully there are better starting points for your next project. Big bore trailbikes. They’re reliable, they’ve got a bit of poke and they’re still very affordable. So here’s a guide on how to turn an old chook-chaser into a blacked-out side street carver like this 1994 DR650 ‘Arsenale’, put together by French company Blitz, makers of some of the nicest switchgear you’ll ever mash your thumbs against.


Step 1. Ditch the old surf swirl graphics that keep the DR looking like it’s wearing an 80’s leisure suit. Gut the air box and break out the grinder, cutting off all unnecessary tabs and mounts hanging off the frame. And while you’re there cut down the rear subframe and weld in a loop, with dedicated holes to sneak in some LED brake and indicator lights. While the TIG welder is out and sparking make up a battery case under the seat to cradle a lithium-ion battery.


Step 2. If you haven’t already, form a relationship with your local powdercoater. They’re an odd bunch no matter where in the world you are. Try taking them a small present like meat, alcohol or an unwanted child. Then tear the rest of the bike apart and get everything blasted and powder coated gloss black. And I mean everything. The fork legs, engine covers, swing arm, side stand, hubs, foot pegs and triple clamps.


Step 3. While everything is off getting electrified, sprayed and baked, turn your attention to the key part of a good DR tracker build. Replace the huge 21” front wheel that makes DR650 cornering so lazy for something smaller. On this bike, Blitz are running 17-inch wheels on the front and back. It’ll make it turn in quicker and will offer a much better selection of rubber.


Step 4. Freshen up the engine. Cross yourself, look skywards and thank the flying spaghetti monster that you’ve decided to dedicate your attention to a single cylinder engine. One piston, one set of rings, some rockers and one bespoke stainless steel system is all it takes to get a DR drumming along nicely. At this stage, I’d recommend visiting a friend lavishing attention on an old Honda four watch them eat pot noodles for a month to afford the same set of parts.


Step 5. By now you should have gotten everything back from the powdercoater. Bolt it all up and admire the progress you’ve made. Swap the tank for something a little lighter, more beautiful and significantly less ‘dirtbikey’ than standard. An old Suzuki GT125 tank worked just fine for the guys at Blitz.


Step 6. Bolt everything back into the frame. Affix a small speedo keeping the front end looking nice and light. Find an old auxiliary headlight from a ‘70’s rally car to mount up and strip the loom back to its bare essentials. Install some lightweight, slim French-built controls from Blitz on a pair of old Triumph handlebars you have lying around. Step back and admire.


Step 7. (Optional) Lend your newly created pride and joy to one of the world’s most famous motorcycle racers when he’s in town and looking for a set of wheels. Someone like, say, Roland Sands. Then, at 20km/h and in first gear, let the man crash it on some light gravel right before its first public debut at the screening of a motorcycle film.

And there you have it. You’ve got an affordable head-turner that’s quick, exotic and still manages to bark into life every time you thumb the starter. And if you do piece together a bike as cool as Blitz’s ‘Arsenale’ and can’t track down a former US #1 plate holder to drop it, I know of a semi-employed motorcycle journalist who would be happy to help.

[Photos: Gary Jézégabel]

  • whytaylorwhy

    I’ve always liked the stuff from Blitz. Just raw and bizarre. What’s the second lever on the handlebars? I’ve seen that on Puch or Garelli mopeds, but not on a bike like this.

    • John Wanninger

      Its a decomp lever.

      I like some stuff about it, but the seat to tank junction kills me. Riding it I’m sure evokes a desparate feeling of a need to un-hump the tank… not unlike a frontal steel jockstrap wedgie… and it just needs a front fender, its supermoto enough for that.

      I do like the headlight and oil cooler.

  • yogirl

    blitz was cool at one point, i dont know what happened on this bike…….

  • Dave Coetzee

    Thanks for the well written review. The line, “the nicest switchgear you’ll ever mash your thumbs against”, deserves a medal if it’s original!

  • revdub

    Really appreciate the step-by-step style of this post. Very helpful. That part about the importance of finding a good local powdercoater, so true.

    • Fantome_NR

      you love EVERYTHING.

      • revdub

        Not so. Notice that I didn’t comment on the bike itself.

  • Robert F. Russo

    Cool bike, but what’s up with the third photo? Looks like the exhaust has been photoshopped near the swingarm. Always makes me wonder what else has been tidy-ed up after the pics were taken.

    • That third image has been flipped – the DR’s chain is on the left side.

  • What is this, long fork week @ Pipeburn?

  • This custom supermoto is poorly executed, and as the end result of pro-builders it’s very disappointing. I don’t want to be negative nor harsh, but I believe that we have seen a lot of impeccable projects that set the bar much higher than this one.

  • The ergonomics look awkward at best. I feel for the poor sucker that paid for this.

  • corporate dollar

  • Playskool

    And one more for Blitz… This bike looks unbalanced (to say the least),
    handle probably like a trike missing a rear wheel, and do not have a
    proper headlight (headlights are useless after all, lets put an “old
    auxiliary headlight from a ‘70’s rally car”, it will be so hype!).
    The only “improvement” I see here is that these guys gave up on using dented tanks for their builds.

  • Blake Proudfoot

    Love the use of big thumpers for custom projects but this looks cobbled together. Normally black hides a multitude of sins, but not here.

    Front fender removal for the sake of aesthetics is almost forgivable but in this case with the smaller front wheel and those long fork legs, it just looks silly. It puts a strange image in my head of a male silverback walking on all fours with his front arms being the size of broomsticks.

    I won’t touch on the seat/subframe as its a mess.

    Blitz has some cool builds and for sure some talent. This just needs a redo.

  • Fantome_NR

    I usually hate their bikes, but this one looks really proper. I think Bike builders mature, like artists, over time. They seem to be getting better with time and experience. Probably also helps to have good, non-stupid clients.