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Super street bike, October 2009
March 1, 2011

Think Your Clapped Out Relic Is Worth Nothing More Than A Scrapyard Donation? SSB Shows You Otherwise...

From the November, 2009 issue of Super Streetbike / By John Zamora / Photography by Adam Campbell, John Zamora

It's one thing to take a new bike off a showroom floor, bolt on a load of mods and call it custom. Sure, taking off one part and replacing it with another takes some mechanical skill, but what happens when there aren't any aftermarket parts available? What if everything had to be fabricated or retrofitted? Would it still be able to compete by today’s standards or would it be left in the dust?

Starting with the heart and soul from the first sportbike, the original Suzuki GSX-R750, Super Streetbike set out to infuse modern parts and accessories in preparation for war with a modern motorcycle. The catch was that it had to retain its classic looks.

While searching the classified ads for cheap bikes, we ran across one that read, “Old GSX-R for sale. Doesn’t run. Cheap.”

Upon arrival we discovered something that only mildly resembled a bike. It hadn’t been started in over a decade, but most of the original parts were intact-making it perfect for a project build.

The bike was stripped down and every last nut and bolt was separated into “useable” and “throw away” piles. Meanwhile, the frame was sent out for powdercoat while an inventory of aftermarket parts was compiled.

Blood, Sweat And Gears The most important element in an endeavor as massive as this is to have a plan already in place. We knew, regardless of the bike’s condition, that it would need new suspension, wheels and a motor build. These are major items, no doubt, but if you’ve budgeted ahead of time there won’t be any surprises.

To bring handling up to date the stock front end was scrapped for a complete 2007 GSX-R750 setup. A bit of steering head work was required for proper fitment, and MotoGP Werks got that squared away. And just like that, the major portion of the front end was sorted.

There was a void to be filled in the braking department, but with the modern front end the options were numerous. Beringer calipers and rotors bolted right on, making this mod a walk in the park.

The original GSX-R came with a tiny 140mm rear tire, and obviously that wouldn’t do. Updated wheels and tires were part of the plan, but putting a wider rim and tire on the narrow stock swingarm required a bit of muscle and a lot of fabrication. First, the stock swingarm was cut and widened to accept the larger 180 rubber. With a wider, stronger rear support system everything from caliper mounts to chain adjusters had to be fabricated to accept the new wheel.

The stock shock was better suited as a doorstop than a suspension piece, so an Ohlins rear shock (originally from a Ducati Monster) took its place.

With the suspension sorted, attention was then focused on making more power. There’s no replacement for displacement, so the stock block was bored for larger pistons, then aftermarket cams and a port job finished it off.

The original motor utilized air and oil to keep things cool, and because of the beefier motor components we wanted the largest oil cooler possible to keep it from overheating. A wet nitrous system was then hidden in the undertail just in case we needed a little extra boost. Vance and Hines adapted its cool CS One exhaust system, and just like that we had a more powerful, fully rebuilt engine.

Not so simple was the issue of wiring. Obviously the original harness was nothing but a dried out, spider infested tangle of nonsense, so a new one had to be sourced. It should have been a simple process to get all the sparks properly distributed, but occasionally things don’t work out so easily. Once those gremlins were exorcised we were able to move onto updated gauges, switches and lights.

The stock bodywork is the defining characteristic of the first generation GSX-R and we wanted to retain that look as much as possible. Our bike came with two trashed sets of bodywork, from which the “best of the worst” panels were selected for repair. Buddha Paint harvested Hayabusa fairings to help fill a few gaps, and after a lot of melted plastic and body filler were able to make the old parts new again.

Stinger Or Stinker? After many late nights and weekends, the fruits of our labor culminated for the maiden ride. For good measure we brought along a stock 1987 and 2007 GSX-R750 to rate how our upgrades improved (or hindered) the bike.

With everyone’s breath on hold, the revised and upgraded GSX-R fired up with a roar. Engine...check.

Power delivery was much snappier and more responsive than the stocker despite its lack of a true break in. The freshly built motor still felt tight, but the tweaked twenty-something-year-old technology felt faster than a modern 600, though not quite up to par with a 750.

The short wheelbase makes it flick like a booger while the upgraded front end absorbed the bumps perfectly at a moderate pace. OK, it's unlikely to set any lap records, but it definitely hugs canyon corners convincingly.

The modified Ohlins steering stabilizer was slightly too short causing it to work as a steering stop and affected the turning radius. This meant multi-point turns in the parking lot, but such are the limitations on a highly improvised custom.

In comparison, the stock 1987 GSX-R bounced like a bed in a cheap motel. Thanks to a worn out rear shock, the hit from the smallest pebble was pushed through the bike and up to handlebars. Going around corners was an act of bravery. As expected, the ’08 clearly had the advantage in handling, but what did you expect?After many late nights and weekends, the fruits of our labor culminated for the maiden ride. For good measure we brought along a stock 1987 and 2007 GSX-R750 to rate how our upgrades improved (or hindered) the bike.

With everyone’s breath on hold, the revised and upgraded GSX-R fired up with a roar. Engine…check.

Power delivery was much snappier and more responsive than the stocker despite its lack of a true break in. The freshly built motor still felt tight, but the tweaked twenty-something-year-old technology felt faster than a modern 600, though not quite up to par with a 750.

The short wheelbase makes it flick like a booger while the upgraded front end absorbed the bumps perfectly at a moderate pace. OK, it's unlikely to set any lap records, but it definitely hugs canyon corners convincingly.

The modified Ohlins steering stabilizer was slightly too short causing it to work as a steering stop and affected the turning radius. This meant multi-point turns in the parking lot, but such are the limitations on a highly improvised custom.

In comparison, the stock 1987 GSX-R bounced like a bed in a cheap motel. Thanks to a worn out rear shock, the hit from the smallest pebble was pushed through the bike and up to handlebars. Going around corners was an act of bravery. As expected, the '08 clearly had the advantage in handling, but what did you expect?

1987 SUZUKI GSX-R750 FRONT END: 2007 GSX-R750 front forks, Performance Machine “Factor” wheel, Beringer rotors and calipers, Dunlop Qualifier tire, RSD triple, stainless steel brake lines, Vortex clip-ons, modified Ohlins steering stabilizer

REAR END: Performance Machine "Factor" wheel, Dunlop Qualifier tire, modified stock swingarm with custom brake hanger, modified Ohlins shock, Vortex rearsets, Beringer caliper, Galfer rotor, stainless steel brake line, RIS Designs brake reservoir

MOTOR: Mikuni 34mm carburetors, Wiseco 770 pistons, Web Cam Racing cams, hardened rockers, custom Vance and Hines CS One exhaust, Dynatek Dyna 2000, coils, and wires, NRC engine covers, Barnett clutch, K&N air and oil filters, Nitrous Express 40-shot nitrous, Earl’s oil cooler and lines, Vortex (-1, +2) sprockets, EK chain, ported head and built by MotoGP Werks

PAINT: Buddha Paint (www.buddhapaintoc.com)

POLISH/CHROME: Classic Components powdercoating, Buddha Paint brushed swingarm

BODYWORK: 2007 GSX-R1000 front fender, MotoGP Werks custom undertail, Oneoff Creationz modified 2007 GSX-R mirrors with Lite-Eyes clear LEDs, Lockhart Phillips body bolts, modified stock upper by Buddha Paint

ACCESSORIES: Roaring Toyz kickstand and rear pegs, Lockhart Phillips windscreen, Odyssey battery, Veypor VR2 gauges, MotoGP Werks custom gauge mount, Eurocomponents levers, clutch and brake master cylinders, reservoirs, rear signals, grips and switch housings, HT Moto seat, Lite-Eyes HIDs and angel eyes, Drastik Plastix LEDs, D2Moto license plate lights, Clear Alternatives LED taillight, factory Suzuki temperature gauge, clear headlight cover

OTHER: Titanium look bolts by MotoGP Werks

BUILDER: MotoGP Werks (www.motogpwerks.com)

CONCLUSION
A modern GSX-R disappears in a sea of clones while a stock '87 looks like grandpa escaped from the nursing home for a quick ride. Our project bike pops by combining old school charm with upgraded performance. While we were unsuccessful at out performing a new bike, we did manage to create a unique one-of-a-kind modern ride that won’t be mistaken for a cookie cutter custom.

Don’t be afraid to “create” the bike of your dreams. As we discovered, with enough time, patience and ingenuity, anything is possible.

Nitrous Express

To help it compete with newer and faster motors, a 40-shot of the giggle juice comes in the Nitrous Express setup. MotoGP Werks hid the entire system in the undertail to keep the secret safe.

Shock

We’d find Bin Laden before we could source a high performance shock specifically for one of these old bikes. Instead, MotoGP Werks adapted a Ducati Monster shock to handle the duty.

Swingarm

MotoGP Werks widened the swingarm and braced it to accept a proper 180mm Dunlop Qualifier tire. Spacers and custom brackets were made to fit the Beringer rear caliper and oversized Galfer rotor.

Exhaust

Back in the day all the cool kids were running Vance and Hines exhausts. A modern retro wouldn’t be complete without an OG pipe, and the V&H crew came together to build a special full system to bring the bark.

Chain/Sprockets

The motor’s pulling power is transferred to the pavement via a Vortex Cat5 sprocket and an EK 520 chain.

Seat

HT Moto rewrapped the stock butt holder with a carbon fiber vinyl and flaked accent stripe.

Headlights/LEDs

Shining the way forward are HIDs from Lite-Eyes. When it gets dark, dual white and yellow angel eyes and a custom LED kit from Drastic Plastix pimp the parking lot while running off an Odyssey battery.

Motor

All show and no go makes a bike blow. MotoGP Werks punched out the motor to 770cc, added bigger cams and carbs and hardened rockers to keep the bike a rockin’ for those that come knockin’.

Oil Cooler

The first generation Gixxers featured air/oil cooled motors. To keep the tuned motor from overheating, an oversized Earl’s oil cooler keeps it chill.

Wheels/Brakes/Tires

Performance Machine’s “Factor” wheels look retro with a unique contrast cut and matte black finish. Beringer provides the stopping power with billet calipers biting stainless rotors, and a Dunlop Qualifier keeps it all sticking to the road.

MOTOGP WERKS – www.motogpwerks.com
BUDDHA PAINT – www.buddhapaintoc.com
PERFORMANCE MACHINE – www.performancemachine.com
ORIENT EXPRESS – www.orientexpress.com
BERINGER BRAKES – www.frogspecialties.com
EUROCOMPONENTS – www.eurocomponentsusa.com
VANCE AND HINES RACING – www.vanceandhines.com
NITROUS EXPRESS – www.nitrousexpress.com
SUZUKI ACCESSORIES – www.suzukicycles.com
DUNLOP TIRES – www.dunlopmotorcycle.com
VORTEX RACING – www.vortexracing.com
EARL’S PERFORMANCE PLUMBING – www.holley.com
DRASTIK PLASTIX – www.drastikplastix.com
CLASSIC COMPONENTS – www.chromeplating.com
ROARING TOYZ – www.roaringtoyz.com
LOCKHART PHILLIPS – www.lockhartphillipsusa.com
BARNETT CLUTCHES – www.barnettclutches.com
ONEOFF CREATIONZ – www.oneoffcreationz.com
NRC MOTORSPORTS – www.nrcracing.com
ROLAND SANDS DESIGNS – www.rolandsands.com
LITE EYES – www.lite-eyes.com
HT MOTO – www.hydroturf.com
VEYPOR – www.veypor.com
DRASTIK PLASTIX – www.drastikplastix.com
RIS DESIGNS – www.risdesigns.com
GALFER – www.galferusa.com
EK CHAINS – www.ekchain.com
TEK9 CYCLES – www.tek9cycles.com
WEB CAM RACING – www.webcamshafts.com
K&N AIR FILTERS – www.knfilters.com
D2MOTO – www.d2moto.com
CLEAR ALTERNATIVES – www.clearalternatives.com