We went retro on this custom SV650 Retro Racer and the results are a clean and sharp handling modern classic.
We’ve dipped our toe into most custom motorcycle genres in the Purpose Built Moto garage. I like to keep it dynamic around here. We’ve built Choppers, Bobbers, Café Racers, Scramblers, Electric Bikes, but a lot of the time, a forgotten niche (and crowd favourite) is the Retro Racer.
For us this style entails a semi-faired or fully faired motorcycle, styled out in the vein of a race bike of old. It doesn’t need to wear throwback graphics, or team colours but it should stir those emotions of nostalgia and speed just by looking at it; making you remember that first time you saw a moto GP race on TV as a kid. That was the goal with our Suzuki SV650 retro racer build.
This custom build came with a pretty solid brief (about 8 pages worth) of different parts to include on the bike and styling types suggested by our rider, John. While he didn’t have a completed picture, the list of items on his brief screamed retro racer to me. After a conversation and a few ideas from my end we got to work on creating a track worthy Suzuki SV650 Retro Racer, but with all the modern necessities needed for the street. Let's get into the nuts and bolts of it.
First order of business was to measure out the bike and get some fairings on the way. I’m a pretty hands on builder, so it’s always a little tough to visualise this sort of thing without having it in the metal in front of me. After a little back and forth, the style was decided on and we ordered a set of miss matched fairings for SV650 Retro Racer. I wanted a sharp, square 80’s vibe with this project and Airtech had a few perfect pieces. Now, we just needed to make them fit.
When the body kit landed, the rear subframe was removed and rebuilt from scratch. This allowed me to set my tail angle properly and fit the fibreglass tail in a way that would allow the under tail exhaust that was to come. The exhaust configuration is a tricky one; on sporty V-twins or V4’s for that matter, with a lot of bends needing to be squeezed into a small space.
We’ve completely rebuilt the exhaust, creating a 2-into-1-into-2 set up. It was a challenge having all of that happen right under the engine, but we got it done and the exhaust flows perfectly roaring with as much power as a track spec SV650. The headers split off and exit out each side through a pair of PBM Torpedo mufflers, peeking nicely out from under the new tail. We’ve head proofed the side fairings of the fibreglass tail so we don’t cop any paint face or heat damage when you’re holding this little ripper wide open for as long as you have the balls to.
A few minor details were needed on the tail end before we could call it complete. These included a custom battery box and electric’s tray, the modified stock ankle guards to include heat shields and a small bridging fairing under the front of the seat. We shaped this out of some sheet aluminium and using the factory mounts makes the aftermarket tail look more like a factory option by tying it into the tank and frame seamlessly. Our last job was the lighting on the tail, with a great triangular shape to work with, we’ve fabricated a clean recessed PBM Orbit Tail Light mount and used a set of our new (upcoming) Orbit lights for the rear indicators.
Moving to the front of the SV650 Retro Racer, Dylan fabricated the front clip bracket that places the new ½ fairing to flow with the shoulders of the tank, he mounted the new Daytona DEVA Digital Dash and housed the lighting in one neat package. We re-purposed an Enduro headlight from a late model KTM that fits the styling on the rest of the retro racer, along with a set of Hollow-Tip LED Indicators tucked under the wings at the front. The windscreen was a custom-made piece by our windscreen guy in Sydney, we made it shaded and lower than usual to keep the top line of the bike intact.
As fabrication was coming to an end on the SV650, Dylan used one of our DIY fender kits to fabricate a clean and simple front fender. I stripped the wheels and sent them out for paint. Gold Wheels was one of our riders’ requests, so I wanted to make sure that was in place before we went about the paint design.
Once those came back the SV650 was assembled and sketches started on the paint design. Early on I decided we would go with a red, yellow, black and white colour scheme. I usually try to stick to 3 colours max, but for this one we’ve stretched a little to get the vibe right. Taking inspiration from a few of the Old Barry Sheene Suzuki 2 strokes, and some 80’s era racers, I laid out the retro inspired design and then took the bike out to be painted by Justin at PopBang Classics. We included a few throwback decals, most notably the Faberge logo that’s been missing from motorcycles for far too long.
While PopBang Classics worked his magic, we got to work on the pointy end of the build with some performance upgrades. As a reasonably low KM engine the call was made to crack it open and find some more horsepower a little later in the game. For now Purpose Built Performance has gone with an MWR airbox upgrade, Power Commander and a tune at Dynomite Moto.
All said and done the SV650 makes 74 HP at the rear wheel and 44NM of torque. To decipher that for you, in a package that weighs 175KG that’s a lot of fun to be had. All of this can be put to good use with the suspension and braking upgrades that wound out the SV650’s ride.
The ride on this well powered, lightweight racer is incredible, the twin delivers early torque in the rev range that continues right up to red line. With the weight removed from the bike, the already well handling machine is a joy to open up and let wind out. While the SV looks decidedly race bred, we’ve worked hard to ensure a comfortable ride on the street. With higher clip ons and a reasonably plush seat trimmed out by Timeless Auto trim the SV650 Retro Racer delivers on any road you want to point it at.
We had a good time crafting this retro racing Suzuki for our client John, and we’re stoked he was as excited as we were.
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