Customer Builds: Colin Brooks - United Kingdom

This bike was built with a CS-1 Cafe Racer Kit.


  • Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to build a RYCA

I have been riding bikes since I was 17 ½. I joined the Army and met a guy who was to become a good friend, who was a total bike nut, and got me heavily into bikes. I’ve been a biking ever since, with the normal break for Wife & Children. I finally managed to get back into bikes in the naughties. I had dabbled in customising a bike back in the eighties when I stripped and rebuilt my 1980’s GS750 Suzuki which I then had professionally proddy race prepared by David Dixon who back in those days was the sole concessionaire in the UK for Pops Yoshimura, But that one was done mostly by them. I was looking for a project and had intended to do a GS550 Suzuki, as a street fighter (straight bars, belly pan, etc) but while browsing the web came across your website and the CS-1 Café Racer. That was it for me, and thought; “I could do that” I started trawling the internet looking for a donor bike. Fate with a smiling face and a helping hand…….

  • How did you find your Suzuki? What year model? What shape was it in?

I found my bike on EBay, A couple in the NW of the country both had one’s they were selling (one in blue, and one in black). They wanted to give up bikes and with the proceeds buy a two seater sports car. Both bikes were 2005 import models with very low mileage (4407miles. The blue one had only done 600miles the previous year). It had, also most of the engine and aluminium parts professionally polished, and a few extras. It was immaculate. It turned out the guy was an engineer and liked tinkering, and had completely stripped and rebuilt it from the ground up. A couple of phone calls to the seller made my mind up. I paid a little more than I wanted but it was in such good condition that, I knew that being a complete novice, the condition would smooth my path into the project. A long trip in a transit van with the wife and our dog from the SW of England to Lancashire in the NW (6hrs +) and the deal was done. I never told him what I had planned for his pride and joy.

  • Did you sell the take-off parts? How much did you get?

As the bike was in such good condition the strip down was pretty straight forward and all the parts in mint condition, with the exception of the lower exhaust cover, where the bolt had seized and I had to remove it with an angle grinder to get it off. I’ve taken pictures of all the parts and have descriptions already for going on EBay, just need an evening in front of the laptop to advertise them all. So if anybody is building a RYCA Bobber I have some mint chrome rear shocks, and polished foot rest mounting brackets, and 15” & 18” highly polished rims etc. The original silencer went in the metal re-cycling bin… Ughhh!!

  • Tell us about any mod’s or upgrades you did to your bike.

Honestly…. my original intention was to just strip the bike and fit the CS-1 kit as supplied. However once I got into stripping the bike down which was relatively easy, due to it being in such good condition. I decided once I had everything out of the frame, that the frame looked a little tatty where the previous owner had touched up the paintwork. Reading other customer build profiles, I liked the idea of having the handlebars pulled more back than straight, so my Brother in Law kindly welded a couple of steering stops to provide a more comfortable angle, as Dave Siedman – ADS did on his pocket monster. The frame then went off for powder coating. While browsing the web for wiring bits and bobs to extend the ignition switch, I came across some great LED 12v 8mm dash lights, so have fitted them to replace the CS-1 indicator and neutral lamps supplied with the kit, and as they were so smart I also fitted the High Beam dip light. I liked and retained the chrome head covers, and opted for the foot decompression linkage lever kit, so had to put a slot in the cover to allow the linkage to depress correctly (thanks to Michael Jones, in Maine answering my enquiry, and for the picture and advice). I also retained the stock grips as I liked them better than the kit ones (sorry). I also opted for the progressive front spring kit (great fun fitting that), and also opted for the extra’s of the speedo, and tacho kit, the 18” front polished rim, the Swing Arm mod, I also fitted a Yamaha Petcock, as was a cleaner setup and blanked off the vacuum pipe at the carb. I really liked Steve Pandya, Texas, front mudguard style so copied that too (plagiarism is the best form of flattery!! Thanks Steve). I had thought about getting the front forks triple tree clamp routed out, but when you released the Aluminium Triple Tree Top Clamp, problem solved so, ordered one on the spot, what a difference it makes to the overall appearance. Oh and not forgetting a custom front brake line from HEL.

  • How long have you been riding? What other bikes do you own?

I have been riding for 30+ years, mostly sports bikes, I currently have a Kawasaki ZX6 4 Ninja, which I sometimes commute to work on, and also travel the country following the British Super Bike Series, and runs out when the weather is good to thrash around the Wiltshire countryside. 

  • What’s your occupation?

For most of my adult life I served in the Military, in communications, as an operator. On completion of my service I went into IT Project Support, assisting IT Project Teams with delivering IT solutions and services to their clients. I work for myself, which allows me some time to enjoy my bike’s.

  • What advice would you give to future RYCA builders?

As most of the other customer profiles have said, label everything!! I also took loads and loads of photo’s from every angle and part, video as well, loads of notes, and watched, and watched the RYCA U Tube clips, essential viewing. When it comes to the build take your time and test fit everything.

  • What was the best thing about building the bike?

Starting the build was great. I really did enjoy, planning and putting it back together and watching the CS-1 evolve in front of me. I especially enjoyed the front fork lowering mod work, and even managed to do it by myself. I really enjoyed the complete build process. I still had some niggles but these were more down to my inexperience than anything wrong with the bike or the CS-1 kit

  • Tell us about any problems you had and how you solved them.

I had a complete mare with the upholstery, and seat pan assembly, despite watching the videos and instructions loads of times, and I now have more holes in the seat and upholstery pan than I would like. To be honest the issue is still not fully resolved, I just found that despite serious pressure the bolts are just not long enough to engage the rivet nuts, and currently only half (2 on the rear and 2 on the bottom are secure). I think it is the leather of the upholstery pan, that’s the issue as it does not have as much give as I guess vinyl does. I am looking to get some longer bolts (if I can find the correct thread) to better secure the seat.

I think a paper template, like the one for the decompression lever, would help to ensure the holes are going in the right place. Wiring was my other mare, and not good fun at all, despite being handy with crimps and a soldering iron, and labelling everything. At one point I did consider a bespoke custom wiring harness but was just too expensive. My major issue though was with grounding the electrics. I put the battery earth to the left side of the bike as the lead would not fit to the right side after I’d squeezed all the cables back in around the new battery box, despite some careful routing. On having connected it all back up and fitting a new battery freshly charged, I tried to fire it up, only to be met with a clicking noise on pressing the starter. Unbeknown to me, until the intervention of my Brother in Law. (A lesson to all custom build novices). Powder coating is a really bad conductor of electricity, so where the engine met the frame was electrically sealed (no circuit). A quick removal of the upper left rear engine bracket and a visit with some grit paper to remove the powder coating, and the ground issue was resolved and she started on the second press of the starter after having been in bits for the previous 12mths.

  • Anything else you want to add?

I really, really enjoyed the whole experience, being a total novice I did have some confidence issues early, and later on through the strip down, and re-build when things didn’t go quite as I guessed they would. However I was lucky in that my Brother in Law, being a mechanic was able and willing to help, and provided no end of help and muscle, as well as welding, and drifting bearings skills. Thanks Al.

I also through the process met and had the assistance of some good knowledgeable people in the bike business who were happy to offer their time and knowledge to assist. This is what makes the biking fraternity what it is. Thank you to all of them. If anyone in the UK wants contacts then they can email me and will be happy to pass on the ones I have. A BIG THANK YOU to you guys (Ryan & Casey) for coming up with such a great product and putting together such a good kit. I now have a great little bike (really did not like the S40 in its original guise) that is already turning heads and drawing great comments. A very BIG THANK YOU must also go to my good lady wife, who let me build the bike in our conservatory (and yes really, and it was her idea!!). I ‘am already trawling EBay for another donor bike, not sure if I should do another CS-1 or the Bobber!! You can get me at colin_g_brooks@hotmail.co.uk


Thank you Colin for the in-depth Q&A. Fantastic details on the bike, it really looks amazing!

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