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  1. #1

    85 Suzuki GS450L Cafe Racer Build

    Mods: Please feel free to move, not sure where this fits. Not a canyon carver or a road hog.

    Never built a bike before. My previous bikes included a CBR600 and I currently ride a 2007 meanstreak.
    I finished my buggy build, so now I need a winter project.


    I picked this up from a retired cop for a good deal. I could have spent a little less, but he is a single dad and has a 10 year old that needed a good christmas.

    It is quite a bit different going from 1600cc to 450, but I didn't know that you could turn these bad boys up to 9k rpms for the power band. I enjoyed my 40 mile ride home. Felt like dumb and dumber sitting upright and vertical.

    Super clean. That is what I liked the most and it only has 5900 miles.

    As she rolled in.



    Started chopping and labeling wires, nuts and parts.





    Plans are

    Chop the rear section off and finish. Build seat (never done before) build another seat so that I can take the lady around

    Rotate handle bars forward and cut to fit for cafe style ride.

    Pulled all the wires out of the head light and turned the casing around so that it sits lower

    Plan on lowering the gauges down about 4-5 inches. Paint the wheels black and cut front fender.

    Flat black and chrome finish and hopefully a pin up girl custom paint job from my grandpa on the tank.

    Never built this kind of shit before. A lot different from building a buggy. This stuff is delicate and scratches easy


    As she sits now.

    Holding firm with Cash...Waiting for next build to come to me.......

  2. #2
    Very nice. I love the mid-80's Japanese bikes.

    Those handlebars are horrid, though. IMO don't waste time trying to cut or shape them, just ditch 'em. You can get a decent set of Emgo bars in whatever shape you want down at Performance Cycle for less than $20. You can even get them in black if you want (I had an 82 Spectre that had all black parts on it, had to order the bar but it was still just $20.) They have a drag bar, a "superbike" bar (my favorite) or a "Euro" bar which is just a little higher and has a little more pullback.

    Or for the full "cafe racer" look you can go to a clubman bar, which they also have.

    When I changed the bars on my Spectre I was amazed at how differently the bike felt and rode.

    Here's the "before" with the stock handlebar:



    And "after" with the Superbike bar. 1000% improvement in both looks and handling.

    Martin (AKA Zapp Branigan) KillBot (Retired)
    "I am the Man With No Name - Zapp Branigan!"
    2007 4Runner SR5, 4.0 Wife's vehicle: 95 YJ, 4 cyl, 5 speed STOCK!
    DD: 96 Mazda B2300 4x2, Fun Ride: 02 BMW R1150R

  3. #3
    Have any tricks to get the left grip handle off? Blow dryer, heat, or buy a new one? Thanks for the photos. I am going to go for a below neck handle bar set up. I want the bars below the neck. The tank and rake? is taller on this bike. I am trying to stick to a minimal budget. Not to save money, just to see what I can do with what I have. I will try to cut the bars and rotate, but if I fail. (Highly likey) I will buy a set. Thanks for the lead. Don't know anything about bikes. Usualy just ride them, change oil, and have a shop put tires on.

  4. #4
    Take the throttle off the other side and plug the handlebar end hole (clamp a plugged heater hose over the bar). Take your blow gun and air up the left grip, while carefully sliding a flat screwdriver in from the inside. You'll probably fail, but I've managed to get a few dirt bike grips off that way. Cheaper than buying a new set- but NOT easier (and much more frustrating). Putting new grips on is an exercise in itself.
    If you cross thread a bolt, there is no need for loctite.

    Run whatcha brung... And hope you brought enough.

  5. #5
    Hmmmm...In my experience it's the right grip (the one with the throttle) that is usually too tight to remove. In any case, you can try squirting WD 40 or soapy water in there (soapy water is also a good trick to get the grips on - they will slip on easily and when the water dries, they will stay put.)

    Worst case scenario, cut them off and get a new set. Again, this is a cheap part. No need sweating bullets trying to save something you can replace at very little cost.

    Below-the-neck bars: That would be a Clubman. Very popular on Cafe racers in the 60's.

  6. #6
    Just noticed the bike had bar ends on it- above practice will NOT work.

  7. #7
    Dagimp's Avatar
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    My first and only street motorcycle accident was on a mid 80's suzuki that looked just like that. I still have the scars/divots on my knees where I rubbed off the flesh to the bones, never grew back. That was over 20 years ago.

    EDIT: I guess that wasnt my first or only, it was my first and only while I was upfront. I got into an accident once while riding with my brother.
    "The two enemies of the people are criminals and the government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." - Thomas Jefferson

  8. #8
    I'm getting ready to start a project real similar to this, starting with a Kawasaki CSR 650. I'll have to check in here from time to time to see how your build is going! Good luck and nice start!
    Clint
    98 ZJ Adventure rig. http://tinypic.com/1r53ekvr
    93 Ford Explorer 2-door with a few mods ;) R.I.P

  9. #9
    Nice I want to build one of those also. Or a bobber style bike.
    Another Web Wheeler

  10. #10
    csutke's Avatar
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    You can also use hair spray to get the grips on. That's what I did with mine and it worked great. They slid right on and once it dries it acts like grip glue. They haven't moved at all since I out them on two years ago.
    When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. Thomas Jefferson

  11. #11
    Didn't get much done over the holiday. Spent more time on the XR-10. Been cold lately as well. Going to ramp up the work on the bike this weekend.

    Seat.

    Started with cardboard and pulled out some old school math for the seat. Here is the frame work. This will be metal. I purchased some wood to make the seat pan. Plan on reusing the old seat cover with some foam and staples.



    On the bike



  12. #12
    Nice Dan
    I do all my own stunts
    www.rockrashengineering.net

  13. #13
    Photo bucket changed the layout. See what pops up here



    There we go.

    Never ended up using my tube killers on my truggy build. So I found a home for them.

    Handle bars turned out great. I will cut off the ends once I am ready. i used those to keep the balance and eye ball the level when welding the handlebars on. Turned out good. 0 dollars spent so far


  14. #14

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    I can't wait to see the seat finished and installed.

    - Mikey

  15. #15
    Trimmed the handle bars down. Pulled the guages off. Need to remount the light and gauges lower.

    Made the seat pan. Took some phots of my ass on the bike. I am 5'9" and about 200lbs these days. This probably won't be a long distance bike for me, but it will be fun to pop around town.





    Seat pan photos. Still needs a lot of work. Need to intergrate the light. I plan on making a 2" ring in the expanded sheet metal to make a glove, jacket type storage back there. Will be painted later. It is not done.






  16. #16
    Looks good- did you make motorcycle noises?

  17. #17
    That's looking good.

    Colorado is heaven for people who like older motorcycles. There are thousands of them here and the dry climate keeps them from rotting the way they do in other parts of the country.

  18. #18

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    I believe the term "fawesome" applies.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by PovertyByJeep View Post
    Looks good- did you make motorcycle noises?
    brappppp,brapppppp, brappapapapa......Or the sorts. I even leaned into the hard corners. The stand that comes on these things......coooool...? For now. might end up taking that thing off.

  20. #20
    You will appreciate a center stand for rear wheel cleaning, oil changes, etc.

    Gotta lean into the corners!

    Looks really good- should scoot too!

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by PovertyByJeep View Post
    You will appreciate a center stand for rear wheel cleaning, oil changes, etc.

    Gotta lean into the corners!

    Looks really good- should scoot too!
    Chain maintenance.

    It still boggles me that manufacturers sell chain driven bikes without center stands. I had to pay an extra $220 or so to put the c-stand on my Scrambler. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Kawasaki I bought in 2007 (1982 Spectre 750) not only had a center stand, it had a tach, a fuel gauge, cast wheels with tubeless tires, and a seat that opened and closed with the turn of a key - none of which were available on my '08 Triumph.

    But back to your cafe - I'm really liking it! What are you doing with the exhaust? Leaving it stock or going to some kind of straight pipe?

  22. #22
    I am not sure what I am doing with the exhaust. The dam little holes look restrictive, but I dont want to just cut them open or straight pipe and fck with the back pressure.


    Any experience??

    Insert Here .....>

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by ZappBranigan View Post
    Colorado is heaven for people who like older motorcycles. There are thousands of them here and the dry climate keeps them from rotting the way they do in other parts of the country.

    I wish, man the costs back east were SIGNIFICANTLY less then they are here.... I would love to find an old Honda, but they are $$$$$ out here.


    And I thought that Cafes didn't have center stands....
    94 YJ 0cyl BDS 3.5", 5/8 Booms, SYE
    Waggy 44s, 1" BL, ARBs, 35" MTRs

  24. #24


    These are the pipes my buddy put on his cafe build. If you're interested I can ask him the brand.

  25. #25
    Real Estate Flippa Rex Ashton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PovertyByJeep View Post
    Looks good- did you make motorcycle noises?
    That made me laugh

    Quote Originally Posted by Navy View Post


    These are the pipes my buddy put on his cafe build. If you're interested I can ask him the brand.
    You. Must. Do. This. Those are nice

    I really dig the seat pan you made. Very nice job. The bike is coming out really nice. Have you explored options in moving your feet back and dropping your knees? I'm not sure what options exist in relocating foot pegs and fabbing shifter and brake lever ..... but it would make that bike so much more comfortable (at least for me) to ride. (I know, I'm not the rider )

    Regardless, very nice job on the bike!

  26. #26
    This thing is looking sweet!!

  27. #27
    I thought about moving them back, but the seat is so low that I would be riding on my heals. I could move them forward, but it is still to short. I went over and took a picture on a cbr600 to see how the ergonomics looked. With the handle bars stretched down and forward it feels pretty good. I feel more confident in getting my legs down at a stop light. We will see. It has been a fun, low stress project so far

  28. #28
    Ergos look ok to me. Looks similar to how I fit on my Daytona- except both the pegs and the bars are lower on the Daytona.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by PovertyByJeep View Post
    Ergos look ok to me. Looks similar to how I fit on my Daytona- except both the pegs and the bars are lower on the Daytona.
    Daytona 675???

  30. #30

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by PovertyByJeep View Post
    955i
    Ohh okay. Yeah I can see that a bit more than the 675 on the ergos end.

  32. #32
    yep aggressive ergos for sure. BUT, they are very confidence inspiring in turns and also help to keep the front end down on hard acceleration.

    Arms and legs are parallel (just like in his picture) but both angled down.

  33. #33
    I've always liked triumphs, been contemplating selling my gsxr for either a 675, or an 848. Enough with the thread jack though. Love the cafe build man! Keep up the good work!

  34. #34
    Got he head light and guages mounted this weekend.



    Got to tuck in all the wiring back in the headlight casing.

  35. #35
    It runs. This is always amazing to me once I start pulling shit apart.....I always fear it not starting again. Got the head light all back together. Seat is off to upholstery shop. Took her around the block a couple of times. Then I pulled the surveillance system to watch my self ride around the house.

    WHERE CAN I WALK into a store and take a look at after market turn signals and tailights? I also need those fancy bar end mirrors.

    It is a fun little ride. Feels like my old CBR600. Ride possition and comfort not performance. Still zips around pretty damn good.

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by dcastell View Post

    WHERE CAN I WALK into a store and take a look at after market turn signals and tailights? I also need those fancy bar end mirrors.

    It is a fun little ride. Feels like my old CBR600. Ride possition and comfort not performance. Still zips around pretty damn good.
    Performance Cycle on South Broadway.

    There are also a couple of shops on West Colfax between Wadsworth and Garrison, on the North side of the street, can't remember the name off the top of my head.

  37. #37
    Mods,

    Good call on the move. The last person that posted in this section looks to be back in January. Why the move 3 months later........crickets.......

    Any how. Got some cool swag from the first shop that I stopped at. Let it Ride...is the place. Got some turn signals, cone filters for the carbs, and the mirrors.
    Should have some good photos on Wednesday.

  38. #38
    ROCK BRAWLER's Avatar
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    Sweet cafe build! I like the seat pan you made.
    I'm building a cafe racer out of a 78 kz750
    Captain Mayhem-
    *** WTB---used 17" 8x6.5 beadlocks. ***
    Please pm me
    RIP 97XJ

  39. #39
    Gots some more work done. Lights are on. They all work. Still need to put on rear tail light and license plate. Need to get seat upholstered. Any suggestions?

    Here are some pictures.






  40. #40
    Seat coming together. Now it is time for arts and crafts. Going to try and make the seat.





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