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Zero budget GN250 cafe racer

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by SpaceMonkey, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Hi All, total n00b here with a first bike that I'm looking to do a bit of a modest makeover with. The base bike is a 1992 Suzuki GN250 that I picked up for a few hundred $$. it's pretty rough around the edges, but it's roadworthy and runs well. I'm looking to do a fairly basic cafe racer style conversion with it, trying to keep things as cheap and cheerful as possible. Its a learner bike so the mods will be 90% cosmetic- I doubt it would be much point trying to get a GN to go all that fast anyway! So without further ado this is the list of stuff I'm looking to do to it:

    Stage 1 (easy stuff!):
    -Give it a general cleanup, remove surface rust (a few minor patches on frame, and on some of the chrome)
    -replace the ugly stock taillight with something a bit more elegant and retro
    -replace headlight (stock one has a bit of a dent in one side and some surface rust)
    -replace indicators with matching retro style units
    -change handlebars for clubmans
    -replace grips
    -replace mirrors with bar end or similar
    -replace muffler with a new shorty
    add fork gaiters
    -clean up exhaust headers, possibly wrap or paint with black VHT
    -change front sprocket to 16 tooth unit (apparently works well and makes 5th gear a lot more suitable for freeway speeds)

    Stage 2
    -replace switchgear with retro-styled units
    -replace speedo and tach with aftermarket set(chrome on stock ones is a bit rusty and backlight is gone in the speedo)
    -get rid of ugly gear indicator light tree above ignition
    -replace seat with cafe style unit (I think this is the only bit thats going to require welding/fabrication)
    -strip and repaint tank
    -strip and repaint side covers
    -get rid of side covers and clean up area underneath them (ditch airbox for pod filer, tidy up round battery, conceal flasher)
    -replace stock fenders with shorter/lighter units

    Thats about all for now, haha!

    I've priced out most of the parts online already and it looks like I can probably keep the parts expenditure down to around $700-$800 if I keep things basic. I'm hoping I'll be able to do 90% of the work myself, with the obvious exception of installing the new seat as this will involve a bit of cutting/welding, so happy to pay somebody to do that. I'm reasonably handy with electrical stuff and not a compete muppet with a spanner generally, so I think I can manage if I take my time and do it bit by bit. I'll post a few pics of the bike and parts once I get started on it, and once I'm allowed to post pics :)
  2. Sounds good & good on ya for giving it a go.
  3. Cheers man. I'm expecting this is going to take quite a while- the next month is going to be pretty much just getting used to riding and making sure the bike is mechanically sound, and I doubt I'll do much actual work on it before christmas but I'd like to have a good chunk of the parts purchased by then. Then hopefully in the New Year I'll have some time off work when I can crack into things properly :)
  4. Consider joining us on the next ride. There's a mix of skills & machinery & if you aren't fussed with what others think of your bike/riding you'll fit in just fine.
  5. So ordered up the first round of parts today, Decided to start off with the lights as while the ones I've got all work, my headlight is dented and has a slightly bent mount, my front indicators are rather ordinary looking and the stock GN taillight is bloody hideous! Only set me back $161 for headlight, taillight and all 4 indicators, not bad! These are what will be going on:

    7" round chrome headlight:
    Chrome bullet indicators:
    Round brake/tail light:

    Should look a lot more elegant and also shave a kg or two off the bike.
  6. And here's the bike as I picked it up:


    Starting to make my mind up on a few of the things I was undecided on, gonna put repainted side covers on rather than go the stripped down look, at the end of the day it's probably going to be cheaper ($50 for a set of new covers from Hong Kong) and less work and I prefer the look anyway.
    Still undecided on clubmans vs clip-ons but leaning toward the clubmans as they'll give a bit of adjustability in the riding position.
  7. So a bit of progress on this. Had my first problem with the bike, the gear shifter is knackered, the teeth where it clamps onto the spline have stripped out and it won't grip enough to upshift (the lever just slips around) luckily a nicer looking aftermarket unit was only $28 delivered, but the bike is of the road for a few days while that arrives.
    On the upside I scored a new set of handlebars, had been leaning towards clubmans but saw a pair of Eliminator touring bars on an SR at the local bike wreckers, had a sit on a bike and liked the look and feel of them and as luck would have it they had a second hand pair there that I walked out with for $10! If I mount them upright they should give me a nice upright seating position but with my arms a lot straighter than with the stock bars, or I could flip them for a more aggressive stance, either way they'll look a hell of a lot better.
    With the bike off the road I thought I'd take the opportunity to have a look at the seat, which was the last of the ugly bits at the back of the bike I hadn't taken care of. I dropped it into Sydney Motor Trimmers this arvo who are going to reshape and flatten it for me before re-covering it. $220 all up, cheaper than an aftermarket seat and I don't need to worry about adapting it, pretty happy with that. Once thats on I'll piss the chrome grab bar off and with the new taillight it should look pretty sexy from the back.
    I've decided on a colour scheme, will be going with white tank and side covers with a black centre stripe on the tank, and to make it a bit more visually interesting I'm going get Posh Beston grips in either red or brown with the seat upholstered to match. SMT have some fantastic vinyl in the perfect colours for this, a medium brown and a maroon that are both straight out of the 1970s, the kinda thing that you found in the interiors of a mid 1970s Valiant! Both would look fantastic, the brown would look a little more "classic" while the maroon would be bit a bit more custom looking and racier but both would be retro as fcuk.
    These are the grips I'm tossing up over:
    or red:

    And here's a couple of samples of the materials I'm deciding on for the seat colour. What do you guys reckon, the maroon or brown?

  8. I like the brown grips better. The red ones kind of look they should be on a kids pushy.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Will follow this with great interest. Nice :)

  10. Yeah I get what you mean- I wish they came in the deep red but without the sparkles, they're a bit OTT in that respect. I love the maroon vinyl though, it's just so ridiculously 70s looking. Mind you so it that brown...
  11. Get leather grips instead of the plastic/gel sparkly ones...
  12. Leather would be nice- but being mindful of $$ I'm trying to keep this cheap and cheerful. Any particular ones you're thinking of (pics/online prices etc?)

    Leaning towards the brown rather than the red I think- the sparkles are too much, and I think a bit of restraint will pay off. It will also be more bearable with the current blue tank until I get around to repainting it.

  13. If you are worried about cost, you could do something like this over the current ones:

    These are also kinda cool:
  14. Hmm, nah, none of those fit the general style of the bike I'm envisioning. Gonna go the tan/ gum bestons with the brown seat I've decided, and will be getting a little bit of white piping added to the seat.
  15. Fair enough. :)
    I personally have not been a fan of any of the gel looking grips.
  16. I see you're a Harley guy- for the record if I was doing something more American styled those leather ones would be on the money. But as I'm more going for a 60s/70s British look the barrel grips fit better I think. Colour is purely so it matches the seat. New bars are on, got them fitted normal way up at the moment, already a big improvement in both looks and riding position. I'd eventually like to flip them over, put them in that way just to check fit and feel and they look and feel great, but create some routing problems for the brake and clutch cables. Because the stock GN bars are pretty long so are those cables so I need to figure out how I'll take care of that. looks like I might have some free time tomorrow so going to try to get the lights on and check out the seat shaping so the upholsterer can finish it, and hopefully the new gear shift arrives so I can take it for a spin!
  17. Pics or it didn't happen!
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Checkout what I found today:
    http://www.lowbrowcustoms.com/search-list/?q=cole foster grips

    Also - how hard is it to change grips?
  19. Got a bit of work done today- got the seat back from the upholsterer, put it on and got rid of the little sissy bar thing, put the new taillight and indicators on, took the old headlight and bracket off, mounted the new bracket with the front indicators and headlight housing and replaced the buggered gearshifter. Unfortunately I've stuffed something up in the wiring when I was replacing the headlight (or uncovered an existing problem). Plugged everything back in (apart from the new headlight which I still need to wire new plugs to as it has a different connector to the old one), turned the ignition on and got nothing, indicators and taillight worked but nothing else. Checked fuse, found previous owner had bodged the fuse with tinfoil and the fuse holder was half melted. Quick trip to the auto parts shop and a new waterproof blade fuse holder was installed, tried to start up again and the fuse blows and I get a burning smell and a puff of smoke, find a small component under the seat that looks like a black fuse with three prongs and the number 2522 on it has melted and shat itself. Was about 7pm by that point so I gave up and packed up, prolly gonna be a few days til I next have opportunity to look at it, bloody frustrating as I've actually got stuff happenning with it now! Anyway here's a photo of the new seat and taillight, will get some more pics when I get the headlight on: