As the Suzuki DR is a standard typical off-road motorcycle, it was a long shot from the urban-aggressive style that we want to gravitate toward.
The DR seemed to work well as a base model — given the high capacity single cylinder engine and its reputation of being a reliable daily driver —
but, most importantly, this particular transformation has never been done before.
The first step in every build is to strip the entire bike down to its bare essentials, in order to see what is hiding underneath the bodywork.
In this case it’s obvious that the rear frame interferes with the otherwise simple proportions of the bike and therefore must be removed.
Besides that, the whole bike sits too high off the ground and has to be lowered for the bold, offensive look we want to pursue.
Often, we treat our bikes to some cosmetic modifications, but we also make sure each bike is in immaculate mechanical condition when they roll out of our workshop.
Therefore, every engine is completely disassembled and reworked to make sure it runs just as good as it looks.
We proceed to strip down the bike even further until we are left with just a frame.
Now comes a critical part in the build – defining the stance and ride geometry.
Not only does this step influence the bike’s appearance more than anything else, it is also a crucial determinant for the ride characteristics.
After lots of measuring and tweaking, we can finally test fit our custom made suspension components.
Compared to the original parts, these are shorter, stiffer, lighter and a lot more durable —
but also about 10 times as expensive.
Another crucial component is the set of wheels.
We are using smaller and much wider rims compared to the old ones, which allow us to mount modern racing tires.
These provide additional safety at high speeds as well as more traction when cornering and breaking.
This is the final stance.
Besides the more aggressive look, we also achieved a lower center of gravity,
which is especially important for fast and tight corners in downtown city traffic.
With the beefy tires and the lowered ride height, the appearance of our DR650 is now already far from where it started.
But of course we can’t just put the old parts back on.
One of the major visual characteristics of every motorcycle is the gas tank.
Its shape and position on the bike can make a design perfect or throw it off completely.
We chose a vintage ’70s Honda tank, which complements the Suzuki’s new slim and light silhouette.
Here we are: quarter of the way through our custom cafe racer.