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Fang's 1970 Suzuki T350 Rebel Cafe Racer
You will NEVER see another Cafe Racer like this one. I have been a professional mechanic for many years, and I have been building cafe racers for about 15 years. Over the years I have worked in and managed motorcycle shops, and I have had access to the finest equipment, parts, tools, and expertise while building this bike. This bike has been one of my daily drivers for about five years now. That means that for more than five years I have been constantly tinkering, upgrading and working on this bike -- classic old bikes are always a work in progress. It has been built reliable and strong, and I have spared no expense or detail as I have intended to keep this bike forever. Sadly, because of unforeseen financial troubles I have to part with one of the nicest bikes I have ever built.
You probably noticed that my bike was British Racing Green. Sadly, last December my bike was vandalized. Only the tank and seat were damaged, and it is because of this that I was inspired to redo the bike even better, this time painting the bike Fire Ball Orange! See? Good can come for even the worst circumstances.
I have lost track of much of the work that I have done on the bike, but here is a list of the highlights I can remember:
* I rebuilt the motor, installing 5th-over Wiseco Pistons
* I bought a spare motor, installed it and put about 1000 miles on it while rebuilding the current motor. It is included as spare parts.
* I believe the spare motor has stock sized pistons in it, but am not 100% sure.
* I upgraded the crappy stock headlight. Its high beam was a useless vintage 35w screw-in bulb.
* The new dual lights sport modern H1 bulbs, 55w for the low beam on the left, and 100w for the high on the right.
* All AMSOIL synthetic fluids -- AMSOIL 2-stroke oil, gear oil and fork oil.
* Currently has a fresh set of Avon Venom tires; front and rear.
* The Gas tank is a slick one-off deal.
* The seat is an amazing hand built peice.
* Custom built rear sets that retain the correct shift pattern.
* I recently went through all the wiring harness, inspected for any problems, and re-wrapped it all.
* There are not, nor have there ever been any electrical problems.
* There are lots of little 1960's Suzuki bits and parts that help define the look.
* The rear blinkers are classic 1960 red blinkers instead of amber.
* The speedo/tachometer is a hard to find all-in-one unit from a late 60's Suzuki racer.
* I recently replaced all those hard-to-find little light bulbs in that old Speedo/Tachometer.
* Fresh rubber tank bumpers, gear sifter, kick starter, foot peg rests, and every thing else.
* Brand new battery (purchased 12/13/2007)
* Lots of high-end Stainless Steel fasteners, especially on handle bar controls, engine, and seat hardware.
* The best Napoleon brand bar-end mirror.
* The front drum brake has been seriously upgraded with custom built, one-off front brake shoes utilizing a modern braking compound.
* It used to require all my strength to stop, but now it only takes two fingers; Now I can lift the rear wheel off the ground!
* The paint is an automotive oil and fuel resistant paint with clear coat.
* The checkers' squares and pinstripes were individually cut from 3M reflective tape (using a paper cutter and razor blade), then hand laid.
* They look ivory/silvery/white, but when the light hits them just right, they simply explode with brightness. It is a stunning effect.
* All that reflective tape makes the bike at least two or three times as visible at night for much better safety.
* The tail light is a modern, sealed LED light. It is nicely tucked up under the seat, yet very visible and bright from the sides and behind.
* I have a box or two of all the stock parts I removed while building this cafe racer, plus extras:
* Spare parts include stock headlight, tail light, gas tank, side covers, airbox, parts motor, and much, much more.
* Two years ago I polished the aluminum engine case covers to a show shine. It took forever.... That was a while ago, but it still looks pretty good.
* I'm sure there is more that I can't think of right now....
* Aesthetically, the bike looks absolutely stunning. It is a show stopper, but maybe not a show winner. It's hard to tell.
The front end. I upgraded the front dual leading shoe brake's shoes with a modern brake compound. It is called "Green Grabber," and I had the work done at a local place that rebuilds brakes and clutches for 18 wheelers and other big trucks. They did an awesome job. The work was done almost 2 years ago and still is perfect. They took the whole front end, stripped the stock brake shoes, applied the modern compound, and then turned the assembled shoes (on the hub) on a big lathe so it was a one-off perfect fit for the drum. I cannot say how impressed I have been with these front brakes. They don't fade, they stop hard, they are easy to control. I was going to upgrade to a disc brake, but now I never would. You can also see the dual headlights and the motor.
I like these headlights. One comes on for low (55w bulb), and the other comes on for high (100w bulb). I still have the stock headlight, but it totally sucks. I could probably have put more light out on the road with a cigarette lighter than with that old light. It still had the older style, early 1960's technology, with a 35w screw-in bulb. Upgrading the headlight is one modification that I know I would have made almost forty years ago if I had the bike back when it was new. The dual lights are just simple old chromed tractor lights. They have a very nice, tight beam pattern, and they use easy-to-find, efficient H1 bulbs. These lights represent one of the most practical improvements I have made to the bike. It is so darn important to be able to see while zipping down those back windy roads.... Now you can screw on the throttle with confidence out there in the dark.
You can just barely see the key down there under the tank. I still have the original, old Suzuki key. It just looks cool -- I hate those cheap replacements!
Ah! The seat. This is a very, very special seat. It was lovingly, hand built from the pan up. This is yet another example of the kind of detail work that a guy only puts into a bike he thinks he will own forever.... I hammered the seat pan to fit my butt, then built up the foam perfectly. The solo race hump is a fairly large storage compartment. I put a lot of time into building it right. I found this old jacket that was once owned by a racer back in the 1950's. It was his race leathers, and they just don't make them like this anymore; black, thick and full of authentic character. I bought it thinking I could restore it, but it was too far gone to make a good jacket, so I stashed it for a rainy day. Well, I was able to use that old racer's jacket to upholster the seat. It came out beautifully. It has all that real patina from the old leathers, it even smells like nice old leather, plus all that racer MOJO too. Super cool.
I love this clock. The speedo/tach combo is an unusual one to find, and when I did I had to snatch this one up. It's Rare and cool; I love how the odometer is vertical on this one! I just replaced all the little light bulbs in there for the back light, turn signal and neutral light. You can also see my race vented gas cap. That looks like the correct gas cap for a 1969 T350. I took the bottom half of the tank's gas cap and brazened it to the top half of the Suzuki gas cap. It is just one more slick little detail that makes this a sweet little ride. You can see how as I built this cafe bike I was careful to keep all the correct vintage Suzuki emblems and stuff. I was able to keep and use most of the little chrome bolts with the Suzuki "S" cast on them.
Three things here to mention. First, the helmet and goggles. The helmet is an old Davida Classic. They represent the pinnacle of 1960 racing safety, but today they are not even DOT approved -- they are considered "novelty helmets." Never the less, it is what I wear. I paid $200 for it, and now it has a custom paint job, and the brown leather inside has been repaired (it is more comfortable now than it used to be...) You can tell it's been repaired when you look close, but it matches the bike and it still looks really good. It is a size small. The goggles are Aviator model 4600 goggles, gunmetal brass with iridium lenses. I think I paid $100 for them. Aviator goggles, the Davida helmet and this bike go together like Batman and Robbin, and ,er, Batgirl, or something like that.
Third, we need to briefly talk about the rear sets and the kick starter. This bike has them both, and no electric starter, so you need to be able to use that kick starter. It is easy. I do it all the time, but I am also used to it. The deal is that the rear sets are in the way of the kick starter. So when kicking the kicker, you only have a bit more than 1/2 of the old full travel before your foot hits the foot rest. Because of this reduced travel the bike can be hard to start if don't know what you are doing, if you accidentally flood it, or something like that. However, the motor is tight and running right, and it almost always quickly and easily starts on the first couple of kicks. Once the motor is warmed up it almost always starts on the first kick.
The paint is shiny enough to shave in! It looks good, but it is not perfect. The bike is old and it has small dings, scratches, and imperfections that I was not able to capture with my camera, still a critical eye will eventually find them. Nevertheless, the paint is pretty nice. While painting this bike perfection was NOT my goal. I intentionally made it "pretty good." Pretty good helps hides the inevitable flaws that will surely come to any daily driven motorcycle. I did not build it to win shows. This bike was purpose built to be a hot rod daily driver. Daily drivers get dings in the parking lot. Daily drivers have birds poop on them. Daily drivers get scratched. Daily drivers get driven hard, and they get dirty, and sometimes they are put away wet. You know how it is. I believe that I guy needs to be able to stop by the corner store on the way home, buy a 6-pack, and toss it between his knees, resting on the tank, and drive home like that. You don't do this sort of thing with a show bike with perfect paint. But you do so it with a daily driver with extra tough paint that is just "pretty good." Perfect costs about 3 times as much to paint, and is twice as hard to fix when it gets damaged. I'm probably twice as picky as anyone else. "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve...." It's not perfect, but you can see in the pictures it is pretty darn good.
To open the seat hump you just unsnap the nickel-plated brass snaps around the hump. Check out this sweet little extra detail on the inside of the flap. I like cool hidden little details like that. It is hand stitched out of leather too. Sometimes, when a group of guys and gals are checking out the bike, I'll snap that open and toss my keys or matches in there, and discreetly flash the little flag. Everyone notices.
Even though I believe this bike is rock solid, and I would not hesitate to drive it wherever I wanted to go, please remember this is an old motorcycle! I carry tools, spark plugs and a flash light with me because I sometimes get to use them. I fouled a spark plug just the other day. I had to pull over and spend a minute swapping it out. You've got to remember that this is an old 2-stroke, and you will probably foul at least one plug once every 6 months. It blows a little smoke until the motor warms up. Sometimes it blows a lot of smoke while the motor is warming up. That is just a fact of the universe for all old 2-stroke bikes. The smoke completely goes away after the engine warms up.
This bike requires love and maintenance. And that love part is important. Old bikes are the soul of the cycling world. This bike requires an owner who is not only willing to adjust the points every couple thousand miles, but someone who is actually looking forward to adjusting the points. (Every 2000 miles it take me about 5 minutes with my timing light and dwell meter.) Required maintenance is not that much more than other newer bikes, the big difference is newer bikes will forgive you if you forget to do the maintenance, but older bikes never forget. The secret is to listen, to pay attention, to inspect more closely, and more often. I'm not exactly sure how to say this, but riding vintage bikes is a much more intimate experience than riding new bikes. The bike will talk to you if you listen, and all old bikes really need someone who is willing to learn how to listen. Over the years problems have come up and I have fixed them. I believe all of these are all taken care of. The motor and clutch are fresh, the tires and brakes are great. The carbs are clean and synced. There have never been any electrical or transmission problems. That's about it. Right now the bike runs better than new, and I don't foresee any problems.
One final note, for several years I have been an member of an active web forum that focus almost exclusively on the vintage Suzuki Street 2-strokes from the 1960's and 70's. It is called the Sundial Motorsports Suzuki 2-Stroke Message Board, and I signed on there as Fang. These good natured gentlemen possess a voluminous body of knowledge regarding these great old bikes. They help each other find parts, freely share knowledge, and represent a thriving community of vintage Suzuki 2-stroke owners. This community makes it easy to own and maintain these bikes, and I would strongly encourage the winning bidder or potential winning bidder to remember them as a valuable resource for all your old 2-stroke Suzuki needs. I am confident that the buyer of my cafe racer will be congratulated and well received there.
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