The Suzuki GR650 (known as a “GR650 Tempter” in the US) is a bit of an oddity. It’s a very competent bike with some innovative (for the early 80‘s) features.
But this bike didn’t sell well. Part of the reason for this was that it was released at a time when big 4‘s were coming into their own. In the early 80’s, apparently a parallel twin cruiser just wasn’t that popular… at least that’s what the limited production run of 1983 – 1984 (in the US) would suggest. It’s a shame because the marketing short-comings (and a slightly Hyena stance) belies its competence … and it’s a joy to ride.
One innovation was the two-stage fly wheel offering low down torque and free revving above 3000rpm. It was also Suzuki’s first production bike with mono-shock, “Full Floater”, rear suspension. This made it very comfortable and was aided by 5 adjustable settings… just the thing for impressing the ladies on the boulevard.
Suzuki didn’t want the Full Floater to fail and went about engineering some serious structural steel to make sure. This heavy metal plays its part in the GR’s considerable (for a parallel twin) 181kg dry weight. Besides making the GR a very smooth operator on the road the weight also makes it a candidate for the Australian LAMS (Leaner Approved Motorcycle Scheme) which is based on a power to weight ratio.
This was one of the considerations when we went in search for a bike for our client Cameron V. Cameron works in the fashion industry and has a keen eye for style. He had some definite ideas on colour and form but besides requiring a LAMS bike with a retro feel that retained dual seat capabilities, had no specific brief for this build… within reason (ie. budget), the bike choice was up to us.
We looked at a few options but bang for buck it was hard to pass on a black beauty sporting a GSX-R sticker. (It had also recently had all the electrics re-done… a common weak point on a GR)
We find bikes have their own opinion about what they could be or want to be. You can beat them into submission, cut and cajole a look out of them but if you don’t let them have their say you can end up with a Homer car. Thankfully Cameron saw the sense in this and what emerged seemed to sit well with this 80’s star.
We dealt with the dual seat requirement by hiding the support for the pillion seat under the re-positioned rear guard and employed a removable seat. This fulfilled the brief and gives the look of a single seater. The gearbox required some work so whilst it was out the motor was given a once over, however (thanks to Mr Suzuki), it was in very good shape so only required the necessary gaskets for reassembly.
New bars, headlight, indicators, gauges and mufflers were part of the shopping list. Along with much bracketeering, a custom seat, the aforementioned rear-end treatment, lots of powder-coating, polishing and an asymmetrically painted tank have given this ageing forgotten one a new lease on life. It’s not a fast bike but for smooth torquey cruising the GR650 is just the ticket.
It took a while to complete this build as we were in the process of setting up at our new workshop / office / retail space in West End- Brisbane so a big thank you to Cameron for his patience.
Albums we listened to during the build of this bike
1. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
2. Dr Dre – 2001
3. Cold Chisel – Chisel (Greatest hits)