There’s not many things in the custom bike scene that instantly prove a builder has big cojones. So it’s hard to argue with someone who picks to build up a renown ugly duckling, combines five different styles in the design and then rolls out a gorgeous all-purpose machine with no front brake to speak of. Welcome to the world of Vida Bandida Motocicletas from the picturesque city of Córdoba, Argentina, in the foothills of the Sierras Chicas and on the banks of the majestic Suquía River. This is where they tossed aside the idea of a Honda CB, detoured around the fabled Kawasaki Z’s and picked the late to the party 4 stroke of the decade, a 1978 Suzuki GS400 from which they’d fashion something truly special.
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.
It’ll come as no surprise to regular readers that we sometimes feature bikes that incorporate elements from other subcultures. Be it surfing, camping, or in today’s case skating, some of the most inspiring and original builds we’ve seen happen when two unexpected yet cool pastimes collide. In the past, we’ve seen bikes with boards attached to them, seats built on decks and even chain tensioners made from their wheels. But we think it’s fair to say that today’s Suzuki takes it to a whole new level, or ramp, as the case may be. So please get righteously gnarly for Portugal’s Yellowood and their DR650 ‘Skate Goat’.
Want a quick and easy way to sort bikers into ‘buyers’ and ‘builders’? It’s easy – just talk about a tragically unpopular model. See, a buyer will judge a bike on its factory form. These are the guys that think showroom looks are somehow hard-wired into a bike’s DNA; the guys who will dismiss an entire model or range because they don’t like the size of the headlight or the shade of red on offer. Then there’s the builders. These are the guys who can see beyond the superficial to appreciate the soul of a bike, no matter how ugly it’s superficial, outward appearance. Italy’s Anvil Motociclette fancied themselves as the latter, and to test the theory they took on the challenge of customising the optimistically named Suzuki GR650 ‘Tempter’. It didn’t tempt us before, but it sure does now.
Written by Martin Hodgson
It’s what makes the scene such a creative outlet; no two customs will ever look the same. It’s a philosophy two British companies share and they decided to pool their talents to create a one-off masterpiece. Old Empire Motorcycles is no stranger to Pipeburn, having built “Typhoon” last year’s number two selection in the Bike of the Year Awards and they’ve teamed up with ODFU, a clothing company that specialises in small run, hand drawn designs. The result is a 1980 Suzuki GN400 that leaves the commuter class behind and enters the world of custom classics.
Written by Marlon Slack.
Incredibly, in stock trim the Suzuki TL1000R is as ugly as it is torquey. With its rounded, fat fairing and ungainly looking seat, in the bike symbolizes much of what was wrong with the late 90s – along with Balkan ethnic cleansing, mass flooding deaths in China and the rise of ska music. Nick O’Kane – powersports sales manager at K&N air filters – saw the potential hidden underneath all the bulbous plastic of a 2002 model TL and put together this gorgeous custom that looks great, handles beautifully and has the powerplant to match.
Being a self confessed fan of full fairings on vintage bikes and also a huge fan of the legendary Barry Sheene, this Suzuki TR750 was always going to resonate with me on many levels. It’s hard to believe that it has been over 10 years since the world of racing lost Barry Sheene. This stunning tribute bike has been built by a small shop in Portugal called Redonda. They specialize in building race bikes for the road, off-road and are also developing some interesting electric bikes. JP Barranca is the head honcho at Redonda and has had long career in the motorcycle industry. JP has a passion for all motorbikes but has a particular soft spot for vintage two strokes.
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’.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Martin is the newest member to the Pipeburn team. When Martin isn’t writing for numerous motorcycle and automotive magazines, he can be found either running his auto parts import business or in his workshop building café racers from bikes that usually have one wheel well and truly in the grave.
It was the era of the wild 2-strokes, from the mid-Sixties to the mid-Seventies; if speed was your thing then you couldn’t beat a screaming oil burner. But Suzuki took a slightly different approach, they combined what they’d learnt at the race track and produced a bike that was bullet fast but also reliable, the perfect street 2-stroke motorcycle, the classic Suzuki T500 Titan. Ralph Spencer had himself a gorgeous original example and motorcycle nirvana was his until…
Written by Ian Lee.
The Suzuki GSX twin. A plastic fantastic model from the 80s, with a timeless ability to look slightly uncool enough to inhibit a comeback. On the other hand, their ridiculously good engine build quality means that many a GSX has been dusted off, started happily, and ridden into the sunset. So how do you reconcile these two qualities? Capelo’s Garage, based in Oporto, Portugal has managed to do this, by breathing new life into a well parked 1987 GSX400, dubbed ‘the Dented Brat’. Nuno Capelo, the workshop’s founder, has built into it a dark metallic aesthetic that gives a big middle finger to the bike’s polyethylene clad beginnings, and shows the whole bike, scars and all.
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