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”.
Despite being on sale since the late ’90s the SV650, known in some markets as the Gladius, has never been popular with customisers. Sharing so many design principals with the likes of Ducati’s Monster range and the ever popular Kawasaki Er6 it’s a bit of a head scratcher, add to that the engines ability to produce enough power to be competitive in road racings lightweight category and you start to wonder if we’ve all missed an opportunity. Rolf was wondering the same thing “Among Customizers the Suzuki SV 650 is one of the neglected bikes. One is hard pressed to come up with any reasons for that. The marvellous torquey V2 and the well-made frame bear ample ground for modifications.” But he wasn’t about to sit around and contemplate things for too long as his deadline was less than three months away and with the SV having undergone a re-design for 2016 there was plenty to learn and fast.
In addition to Rolf’s experienced hands he was joined on the build by the woman who would pilot Little Bastard down the strip, Paniz Adnan, who spends her working hours as the Press Relations Officer for Suzuki Germany. She was first to get her hands dirty pulling many of the factory parts off the bike that wouldn’t look at all home on a machine designed to ooze the essence of motorcycling and nothing else. Then with grinder in hand Rolf took to the SV removing all the brackets and tabs of the components that Paniz had left on the floor and taking measurements for the design he would create on the computer. One issue he immediately wanted to solve was the long rear subframe, that not being a bolt on piece, has always been a turn off for those not wanting to cut up a new bike. But Rolf holds no such fear and drastically cut back the rear frame so instead of the tail hanging past the rear tyre it now barely reaches it. With the image of the stripped down bike loaded into his computer and drawing up designs, Rolf had an idea, a modular motorcycle.
So instead of creating one design he made two, “Persona one, The Blue One, is the urban type with K&N Filters giving a sporty look with a rail around it providing a means to fix luggage. Persona two, The Yellow One, is the sportive classic cafe racer version of the bike.” A brilliant idea, but there is only one Little Bastard and so with the use of a 3D printer Rolf created both designs in a way they could be simply bolted on and off the SV for a bike that can transform from one persona to another in a matter of minutes. This of course is no easy task, not only do all the mounting points have to line up on each version, both have to deal with the fact this is a fuel injected bike with all the components that go along with that needing to be considered as both incarnations replace the factory tank. Persona one (pictured) was the one the team decided they’d take to the Glemseck and the rest of the bike has been built to complement it.
“An aluminium monocoque is at the centre of the modification, built as a tank with filler cap at the back and a cut-out for the air filter on top of the injection bridge.” The aluminium work is simply stunning; many of the welds can no longer be seen such is the creativity with which Rolf solved the problem of creating a single piece capable of serving so many purposes. With the fuel filler at the back of the bike, a Monza cap mounted on the tail, not only was the shaping of the aluminium and the placement of the welds a matter of style but also of safety. The whole thing was pressure tested with even the most microscopic of holes rendering the bodywork as useful as a leaky bucket. Then to compliment the bodywork a seat made from stylish black leather was sewn to neatly follow the purposeful contours and receives support from underneath to ensure the soft alloy doesn’t buckle under the rider’s weight.
Poking up where a normal machine would have its fuel tank is the large K&N airfilter of persona one that also serves to replace the factory airbox. Not only does it give the SV a Hot Rod piece of styling like a V8 poking its snout up through a bonnet scoop, it also means the overall dimensions of the bike are greatly reduced with the bulbous tank gone, it’s sleeker in its stance. That big filter feeds the Suzuki’s engine, still based on the original water-cooled 645cc V-Twin, but now with a serious induction roar. New for 2016 is a host of changes and more complex electrical setup designed for the bike to meet the dreaded Euro Four regulations that Rolf had to hide under the reduced bodywork. But the results are worth it with the now twin plug engine producing 4hp more, despite a reduction in compression thanks to new pistons that help produce a more efficient burn. The quoted 75hp factory number at 8500rpm is no doubt further enhanced with Rolf fitting up a sporty rear can.
Even with the reduced height from the totally revised bodywork Rolf likes his bikes down in the weeds and so the front 41mm telescopic forks have been professionally lowered. Out back the rear also gets closer to terra firma with a reworking of the link type mono shock that features 7-way adjustability from the factory making it a breeze to tune at the track when Paniz is getting ready to fire it down the 1/8th mile. Adding to the sporty ride is a set of Clip-ons from LSL that means the bike does away with the stock risers and upright bars for a significantly cleaner look. Controls also come from LSL with a set of their levers matched up to the factory master cylinder and clutch cable. While their rearsets not only reduce weight but get Paniz tucked in with a more rearward positioning of the feet and the clip-ons allowing her to lie over the filtered tank.
Fitted up to the stunning factory Suzuki blue rims are a set of Continental Conti Cross knobby tyres that may not be standard fare at the Glemseck 101 but as Paniz admits “privately I also like to do a few laps around the track,” and I don’t think she means ones with sealed roads. It’s this rebel attitude from the Iranian-born James Dean fan that helped her and Rolf come up with the name Little Bastard and even if there’s only a small patch of grass to play on she’ll still have the throttle pinned. Sadly with the bike completed just in time for display and racing at the Glemseck 101 a small sensor issue kept the team in the pits, but with that now sorted it’s off to the next show for a Suzuki SV650 that should finally show the world that not only is it more than customisable motorcycle, it’s capable of expressing more than a single persona.