by Hubby and Sparky
For quite some time now, we have had a hankerin' to build or restore our own motorcycle. So early in 2011, we traveled to Destination Honda in a far off land called South Carolina. There for a mere pitance we purchased a nice little Suzuki cruiser. It is a 2002 S40 Savage with about 18,000 original miles on the clock.
We've got work to do!
This ugly duckling was to be the beginning of a metamorphosis from frumpy cruiser to a dashing cafe racer. The cafe racer style bike was an English idea that took root in the Sixties era. Performance bike enthusiasts would strip away everything on their bikes that added weight without function. They would mount the latest high performance tires, brakes and exhaust in order to get as much speed as possible out of their rides. Groups of these riders would meet in London area hangouts, like the Ace Cafe, where they would argue over whose ride was the best and settle the disputes with impromptu races starting from one cafe and ending there or at another.
Our project is something we have been wanting to do for a long time but felt that without a shop equipped with a welder and other metal working tools, would be beyond our limitations. Enter Ryca Motors of California and their Cafe Racer kit made expressly for the Suzuki Savage. With this kit you get everything needed to build a cafe racer with little more than a set of wrenches and an angle grinder (30 bucks at Lowes).
After getting the Suzuki I spent some time riding it on the local roads just to be sure there were no mechanical issues that needed to be addressed. The only "issue" found was a small oil leak at the shift shaft seal but other than that the bike seemed quite sound.
Next came stripping the bike down to the frame. This meant removing the seat, fenders, gas tank, battery box, air box and the wiring loom. It looked a bit naked now with everything stripped off the frame except the motor and wheels. While the bike was thus "undressed" was a good time to fix the oil leak and clean the road grime from the frame and motor. With this done, I contacted Ryca and ordered our kit. They would later contact us when they were ready for us to send them the gas tank and rear wheel hub for modifications that they perform as part of the kit price. The mods included cutting and welding the gas tank to change it to a more "sporting" shape and fitting a new 18" rear wheel to the wheel hub so that a proper sport type tire could be mounted, the tire also being part of the kit.
After a while we received our kit with the modified tank and were ready to start the build. I had requested that the painted parts be prepared with just a primer coat as we had already contacted a local custom painter to give our project some added bling. Our painter, Eddie Bedgood of Alma, Georgia, was recommended to us by a local bike shop. He is a true artist. One can find him on Facebook if interested. Eddie discussed various paint themes and colors with us based upon the ideas we had decided on. We settled on a bright metal flake Yellow with a Black racing stripe and outlined with White pin stripes.
Is it a bird? A plane? Nah it's just Superbike.
Eddie finished the tank with a hand air brushed Suzuki "S" on each side, beautiful. As can be seen from the pictures, Eddie does great work and I would highly recommend him to anyone wanting custom paint work.
After receiving the painted parts from Eddie it was simply a matter of installing the parts from the kit using the video directions provided at YouTube by Ryca. They're very through. Since my shoulder disability, the most difficult job was modifying the front forks. It takes amazing strength to hold them down and then turn so they'll stay in place. It required me and two friends from church to hold the springs down and install the fork caps. The rest of the build was simple, reinstall the modified wiring loom, install the new battery box, new seat and modified tank and the clip-on bars with controls.
After completion, the bike was rolled out of the workshop and we crossed our fingers that the bike would start and run after so many weeks of sitting up and all the modifications to the wiring. Tank petcock was turned on, choke set, push the starter button and within a few seconds after the float bowl filled it fired up then settled into a nice idle. What a relief! Now for the fun part: a test ride. The clip-on bars and racing crouch posture took some getting used to and this bike is not for long distance rides unless you're a contortionist but it is fun, fast and handles great, just like a proper cafe racer.
At least I don't feel a draft anymore ...
There are many more photos of the project at this link. Be sure to click on the photos above to view full size.