It all started in the last ten minutes of a Saturday afternoon showing of Little Fauss and big Halsy. The sound of a 2-stroke road bike and that bubbly vintage road race fairing. Then a quick glance at Airtech streamlining for some more inspiration. Yes. A well-timed search on Craigslist and there it was; a rough 1975 Suzuki T500. At first it was going to be a fun little bike build, and then I would sell it for a couple of bucks. But the deeper it got, the more I realized I was building my dream vintage road race bike. The Enginethusiast ‘No.7.’
Peanut butter and jelly. Moustaches and cops. Nine Inch Nails and Johnny Cash. When it comes to weird combinations that somehow manage to kick arse, it seems the world has a never-ending supply. Avocado and Vegemite on toast, anyone? No, seriously. It’s amazing. But it’s not often you see the same sort of unexpected genius happening in the world of custom motorcycles. Hell, we can’t think of a new bike genre since Go Takamine invented Brat style. That is until now. So here is Perth’s James Alkins and his revelatory cafe scrambler cross pollination. Genius? Madness? We’ve made up our minds, now you be the judge.
Today we’ve got the second half of a matched pair of air-cooled Suzuki’s by French workshop Ed Turner. While the previous custom was a bare knuckled, stripped back brute of a GSX1100 for a gentleman client, this is the more feminine half the duo destined for his partner. It’s a little 80’s Suzuki GSX400 dubbed the ‘GS-XX’. Dressed in faux-alligator leather and upholstered to resemble a high-class evening shoe, this highly polished tribute to rolling Eurotrash sensibilities is guaranteed to start some conversations.
Karl Renoult heads the curiously named custom shop Ed Turner Motorcycles, in Nantes, France. We’ve been following his builds for the last few years but nothing has prepared us for his new project. And this only one half of the enterprise, a mid-eighties Suzuki GSX1100 forming the ‘masculine’ part of a matched ‘his and hers’ pair of custom rides. Designed to reflect their owners’ love of high fashion, clubbing, and possibly sadomasochism, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before. After a close look, I’m not sure if it has a kill switch or a safe word.
They say there is more than one way to skin a cat, which is both true and also a very disturbing thought when you think about it. But hot on the heels of yesterday’s sensational Radical Guzzi project comes another machine from Germany, also with factory backing and built for exactly the same competition. While it’s essentially a design competition in which members of the public vote online, many of the bikes in Essenza also compete at the Glemseck 101 sprints. The rules are simple. Pure bikes. No Dragsters. Two Wheels. Two Cylinders. A maximum of 1200cc. And while BMW, Triumph, Moto Guzzi and other factories handed over their premium products to builders for the competition, Suzuki Germany chose to give a new entry-level SV650 to the one and only Rolf Reick of Krautmotors. This is what he delivered; it’s a two-in-one machine he calls the “Little Bastard”.
You can tell a lot about a country by what motorcycle marque the police ride. The German Polizei obviously hit the autobahn on BMW’s. The Italian Polizia stylishly chase down the mafia on their Guzzi’s. But when it comes to Colombia, the police ride the reliable dual sport Suzuki DR650 – it probably says a lot about Colombia’s mix of city and country roads. So when the guys at Garaje57 got their greasy hands on a DR650 police bike they wanted to do something completely different with it. The Pasquale brothers have been building bikes for a few years and their Dad has been working more and more with them. So because it’s a family affair, they have decided to change their name from Garaje57 to Pasquale Motors. So this DR650 is the first build under Pasquale Motors and they’ve given this thumper the name ‘Mamba’ because the pipe resembles the snake of the same name.
Rarely is customising a motorcycle a wallet friendly activity, but for the cost of a crappy 90’s hatchback you could be riding this Yoshimura Suzuki race replica, that’s definitely hard to argue with. Patrick Sauter of Germany is no stranger to these pages – having built a very polarising CX500 rat bike a year ago – but this time he has turned his hand to a whole new style of bike and done it for a very lucky family member.
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’.