GS550 Cafe: Coming Back to Life

It’s all about the process, right?

That’s what I keep telling myself each time I realize it’s been a month (or months) since I touched the GS550 project. It’s not like I forget it’s there. I mean, it takes up substantial space in my already small garage, and I walk by it every day. It’s just that some days it looks completely overwhelming (horribly pessimistic), while others it seems like I could order a few parts and be riding next week (heinously optimistic).

With the help of several parts that ended up under the Christmas tree and a new calendar year, actually getting it finished has seemed like a more attainable goal the past few months. My last few free weekends have been spent tackling the wiring, which is inching closer to being tidied up and tucked away.

With things pared down and everything that’s staying on board connected (I hoped), I decided it would be wise to crank it up before I set about looming up and tucking away the remaining wiring. The video above is the result I arrived at after 45 minutes or so of tomfoolery. Good feeling for me, not so much for my neighbors, most likely.

All-in-all, I feel better about this thing than I have in a while. It might, someday, maybe, go down the road again.


A photo tour of the forward progress made in Lucky 2013




GS550 Cafe: Update Time

So it’s been a while since I did an update on the cafe bike. Progress has been sporadic lately while we fight with getting air conditioning blowing cold in the shop truck, but it’s progress nonetheless.

First on the list after getting the forks back together with fresh seals and oil was getting them back on the frame. Stuck with the original ball bearings, nice and clean with fresh grease for a silky smooth feel.




Next up is the dive into the unknown: bodywork and paint for the gas tank. We’ve completed two ground up car and truck rebuilds, but bodywork has always been left in the capable hands of others.

The process began with aircraft remover to cut through multiple layers of poorly applied spray paint (including those I put on during the rat bike phase).

Once it was cleaned and metal prepped, the bottom side, which had a bit of rust, got a fat coat of POR-15 brushed on. Cue masking and mounting, and the real fun begins.


Filler applied, ready for sanding


Post sanding, 3 wet coats of DuPont epoxy primer laid down.


Annnnd that’s where we stand now. The tank will get some spot glaze in the pinholes, block/prime/block/repeat, then a few coats of cobalt blue and clear.

Scouted out a few pieces on Dime City’s site last week, including clip-ons and headlight mounts, too. Onward we go..

GS550 Cafe: Mockup Funtime

Was doing a bit of cleaning in the garage Sunday and couldn’t resist throwing some pieces on.

It all has to come back off, but it’s nice to see it look something like a motorcycle again, even if it’s only temporary.


This has also brought up a few new issues: what to do with the wheels? In my original render they are bronze, but I’ve seen several done in matte black lately which is tempting me, too.

Also, the raw aluminum and cad plated hardware kind of clash to me; not sure what to do on that front. Then there’s also that big mess of wire back there I keep avoiding..

GS550 Cafe: Laying Down Some Blues

Progress on the bike always seems to come on in the same pattern:

Step 1: idea forms, usually late at night, leading to lost sleep.
Step 2: idea festers in my head for a few days, sometimes weeks.
Step 3: I step down into the garage to look for something, pick up a tool, and 4 hours later I’ve accomplished the thing I’ve been pondering. Today was one of those days.


I had bought a can of GM Quasar blue DupliColor ColorMatch paint a while back, thinking it would be close to the blue I had in mind. After looking at the tail and tank in rat bike mode for the past several months I’ve already grown completely tired of it, and that blue from my original rendering has just been sitting there calling my name.


4 hours of work this evening and BAM! It’s blue! Well, the tail is, at least. It’s a little rough around the edges (I am anything but a competent painter), but that’s kind of the idea of the whole build anyway, so I’m pretty happy with it.


Also got a coat of trim black slapped on the swingarm.


All of this has just served as a temporary distraction from that giant elephant in the room that I keep avoiding – the wiring..

GS550 Cafe: Back to the Cafe.. Racer

Now that our 63 C10 project has reached a state of (relative) completion, brain power has refocused on the mass of motorcycle parts populating my garage. Let the great reassembly begin!

Got started this past Thursday, when a simple trip downstairs to reorganize some things led to a decent amount of productivity.

GS550 reassembly begins

the reassembly begins

Did a little more scrubbing with brake clean on the engine (I don’t want it too clean, the purpose of this whole project is to have character after all), and with that began the process of re-marrying it with the frame.

Work smarter, not harder

ingenuity..and what separates us from the animals

With the engine blocked up the proper amount, the frame drops right over, thus saving life and limb – and back. When you’re a one-man crew, ingenuity is king.


reunited after nearly a year


successful day

And with that, the great rewiring adventure begins. Simplicity is Priority 1, so much (read: more than half) of this will be going away:

GS550 Wiring

my head hurts already

The fun, as they, is just getting started.

GS550 Cafe: Zinc Plated Happiness

Sent off a good portion of the hardware for the Suzuki GS550 pseudo-cafe project bike to Fanning Plating in Sherman a few weeks back for a little zinc goodness. My obsession with this finish started when we were assembling the Camaro; Grade 8 bolts just have a serious, kind of menacing all-business look to me. Anyway, I couldn’t be happier with the results, especially in contrast with the matte black frame.

It’s like a little box of joy – I’m probably a little too excited about this to be honest.

With fall here, and winter (well, as winter as it gets around here) approaching, it should find it’s way back onto the jack for reassemblage soon.