octavious Dork
9/21/17 9:44 a.m.

So I haven't been on here much due to work and well riding a lot...  I've been on a 2005 Suzuki Vstrom 1000 most of the year and loving it.  Bike is rock solid (except when the battery took a dump) and I just did my first sprocket and chain change ever on a bike a few months ago.  Other bike stuff work I have done fluid changes, pulled the wheels and tires off to replace tires, brakes.  What I learned is that working on bikes is sooo much easier on my back than working, stooping, and crawling around cars.  I now want a project, something older, standard, naked.   

A local guy has a 1980 Suzuki GS450 that he started turning into a cafe racer and stopped, rear seat hoop has been cut down for a cafe seat, tank has been cleaned inside and painted, new clipons, new exhaust, and all the factory parts.  My fear is the ole "It ran when parked".  He said it ran and then he started the project but he has lost interest and doesn't want to put it back together.  The bike looks clean, for example the paint looks professionally done, and it is pictured in clean shop.  It doesn't look like a normal turd stalled project buried in someones shed.  (I'd post pics but don't know how now that photosuckit is gone)

I'm supposed to look at it this afternoon.  Am I crazy?  Should I run like my hair is on fire?   

SEADave HalfDork
9/21/17 10:22 a.m.

My first bike was a GS400, so there is some sentimental appeal there.   Like any project/modified vehicle, you are kind of at the mercy of the former owner.   So if the work already done looks clean and professional, and you get positive feelings seeing his workplace, go for it.  

Even if (worst case) the engine is a complete goner I'm pretty sure that same engine evolved into the one in the GS500/GS500F.  Those were made until just a couple years ago, so it shouldn't be any problem finding a replacement.   

Erich UltraDork
9/21/17 11:03 a.m.

Which model GS450 was it? I had one, relatively easy to work on and keep running. The valve clearances were set by shim and bucket so that was slightly annoying, but again not horrible. The carbs needed cleaning after sitting of course, but they were easy to access and disassemble. I remember the petcock leaked badly too when it was sitting, so that needed replacement.

I know if you want to customize, it's best not to start with the L model. Someone who's tried to cafe a GS450L is bound for trouble - the fork rake is all wrong in my opinion. 

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
9/21/17 11:15 a.m.

Good to see you back around here.

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with the platform so if that one looks right to you if say go for it.

ebonyandivory UberDork
9/21/17 12:47 p.m.

I wouldn't do the full cafe' with an L either but non L for sure.

GSresourses is a good info site. Just don't let them know your modifying it too much. They're known to be purists.

I won't even post my 850L on there because I don't want to listen to the crizzap about "cutting up a perfectly good bike."

octavious Dork
9/21/17 12:55 p.m.

It's not an L.  It has the boxier looking tank and the straight frame.  The pics of the L have appear to have a sloped tank and frame. 

I'll see if I can get a pic loaded. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
9/21/17 1:13 p.m.

The vast majority of half done café racer projects I've seen have been just awful, so take a close look at the owner's workmanship.  They can do a lot of cutting and hacking that basically ruins the bike.   The GS400/450 was a good little bike, if it were me I'd rather look for one that hasn't been modified to avoid those kinds of problems - they're still pretty cheap.

octavious Dork
9/21/17 5:52 p.m.

So I looked, number one thing that got me was the wiring is a little haggard. I did some searching and the electricals on the old Suzukis can be kinda tricky, well this one had a lot of wiring with butt end connectors. And every connection had been disconnected and some were missing the correct end connectors. 


The clutch was held together with wire and the lever was broken.


It didn't run. 


The paint was fantastic, and it even carried the pinstripes up under the stock seat, and onto the stock tail (both were included).  Tons of extra parts included. 


It was missing the front brake cable and the battery. 


In the end he told me he bought it in the condition it currently sits with the hopes of finishing it, but his work for others and his own bikes got in the way. 


But his shop was super clean.  He builds cafe racers on the side, and there were two 70s Kawasaki twins, an older CB and one of the Hondas that looks like a MotoGuzzi with the cylinders coming out and up. Nice guy and he also does vapor cleaning of parts on the side. I had never seen that done and it was pretty impressive.  


I passed. It was simply more of a project than I wanted

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
9/22/17 9:15 a.m.

In reply to octavious :

It must be nice to be able to walk away from something like that. I know I would have bought it putting thisand if dollars into it over the two years it would take me to complete it then sell it for less than half of what I put into it.

Good job!

Appleseed MegaDork
9/22/17 6:22 p.m.

Lugnut and I both looked at a CB400 Hawk.  We both walked away. It was more work than either of us wanted.

stroker UltraDork
9/24/17 8:53 a.m.

I still think there's a hell of an opportunity for an entry level club racing class using the 400 twins from the Big 4...


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