Suzuki DR650 Cafe Racer

This motorcycle is a super fast, agile and reliable cafe racer with all the modern perks and performance that is both comfortable to ride and loads of fun!

MY WIFE and I recently purchased our future hobby farm, so with a little practicality in mind, I was inspired to build a ‘dual sport cafe racer’ that could handle the unsealed country roads while still maintaining the look and appeal of a hand-crafted cafe racer. Initially, I gathered a large amount of inspiration from raw scramblers, but as the build progressed, so did my desire for a finely finished agile cafe racer!

I did hours of research into different bike models and decided on seeking a bike with a spine frame for easy fitment of a retro tank, electric start, mono shock rear, and being of small build myself, I was looking for something light!

I found this 2007 Suzuki DR650se locally and went to see it straight away. It was worn out and completely geared up for long distance touring with the long range tank, bag and carrier on the back; all the fruit just not the fruit I wanted.

I stripped the bike straight away and sold all the unwanted parts which covered the cost of the bike and half of the build!

The project took six weeks to build after work and over the weekends. I took on every aspect of the build from the welding to the painting, the engine rebuilding, etc.

Almost everything outside of the frame has been changed from the custom seat, fabricated tank, tail-lights, headlight, handlebars, levers, grips, mirror, indicators, fenders, and the list goes on.

The old dash has been upgraded to an Acewell digital dash complete with pilot lights, tacho and many other functions.

The wiring has been simplified/shortened and tucked into a custom built ‘electrics’ box under the seat which also houses the battery and the remote hardwired alarm system complete with knock sensor and keyless start.

Suzuki motorcycle

The motor was rebuilt, repainted and lightly worked which has significantly ‘uncorked’ the true power potential from the 650 cc motor. Topped off with a Stage 3 jet kit, high-flow intake and a straight-through retro muffler, the sound and responsiveness of the motor is spectacular.

After the custom fabrication of the frame and removal of the unwanted parts and tabs, I was able to reduce the weight of the bike down to around 135 kg wet which drastically improved the power-to-weight ratio and the bike’s handling.

The frame and retro tank have been custom painted and detailed. The tank has been carefully mounted as to maintain smooth lines throughout the bike.

Much to my surprise the hardest part of the entire build was the tank! Choosing the exact shape to compliment the envisioned bike, sourcing the tank, mounting the tank so the body lines flow without interruption, modifying the tank to fit the frame, sanding the tank, painting the tank, detailing and the list goes on. Even with everything else involved from welding, to engine rebuilding, to electrics, etc, the tank consumed one third of the total build, but it was worth it!

The thing I love most about the finished bike is that I built it with my own hands. Every part of the bike has its own funny story. The finished build is a reflection of myself and I think the uniqueness of this type of build is what really drove me to take on every challenge.

Suzuki motorcycle

words by James Alkins; photos by Ben Pilatti

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