Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to build a RYCA.
I live on an Island in Maine, and love to motorcycle the twisty coastal roads in Maine. I was interested in building a cafe racer out of an old Honda CB, but after considering all things and looking at available bikes, it was clear that after investing my time and money, I was going to end up with a $3K-$4K bike that had old seals and possibly a tired motor. I discovered RYCA in my research, and the CS-1 was everything I wanted: reliable, new, excellent geometry, and very unique.
How did you find your Suzuki? What year model? What shape was it in?
Ironically, I found a 2004 for sale on eBay that was located in the next town over from me. I pm'd the seller, and paid him cash to take the auction down. He had been keeping it in his garage, and cleaning it with Q-tips and cotton balls.
The donor bike was a mint-condition 2004, and belonged to a middle-aged hospital administrator that had put 10K on the ticker; you could eat off the motor! I paid $1,750 for the donor. I was reluctant to tell the seller about my intentions to tear it down and build a CS-1 until we signed a bill-of-sale. I drove it into his yard this past spring, and his jaw fell to the floor with envy!
Did you sell the take-off parts? How much did you get?
I did sell the parts. I forget what I got in-total, but it was north of $300.
Tell us about any mods or upgrades you did to your bike.
I was not crazy about having the key on the tank, or extending the ignition, so I did what Simon Cox did and mounted the ignition on the frame below the battery box. I also decided to use the same adhesive used on the side covers to attach the fiberglass seat pan to the metal seat frame; it was easy, simple, and holds it perfectly!
How long have you been riding? What other bikes do you own?
I have been riding road bikes for 12 years. I have been riding Honda Interceptors, both the original, and the mid 90's VFR. I wanted a new bike, and could not find something that really fit my interests in new bikes. A Thruxton just wasn't me, and an old Beemer or Norton or CB conversion would have been a lot of time and money to convert to a level of expectation and performance I wanted.
What's your occupation?
I am a Fly Fishing Professional, and have worked in both Maine, and Patagonia, South America for over 20 years.
What advice would you give to future RYCA builders?
Tear it down in a garage, and build it in a studio. I really took my time, and looked forward to working on it every night over a few beers. It literally was completed in my living room (I have a lot of extra space). My other advice would be regarding painting the CS-1: find someone that exclusively does repair work on motorcycles involved in accidents/projects. Several auto-body shops gave me poor advice, and did not appreciate what I was trying achieve. Once I had it in the hands of someone that exclusively paints bikes, it was clear the job was going to be done correctly the first time.
What was the best thing about building the bike?
The tear down was faster than I ever would have imagined. Probably the most memorable moment was when I hit the starter after the bike was complete, and it roared alive! I love the sound the 650 single makes through the cone muffler (mine has the factory welded crum-cup, which is still louder than hell!)
Tell us about any problems you had and how you solved them.
I wired the bike incorrectly in a few places. Ryan was a prince and talked me through the troubleshooting. I also bought the Suzuki Manual for the S40 Savage, and that was read cover to cover; excellent information on every aspect of the bikes' components and wiring. I had my side panel thumb screws fall off on the very first ride, as well as my tail light bracket screws that hold the license plate: you really need to put lock-tite on everything!!!
Anything else you want to add?
I enjoyed the first build so much, I want to build a second RYCA design just to relive the experience of seeing it come together. Hats-off to the RYCA team; every part fit to my frame like it was made to exact tolerances! Purchase a digital caliper, and watch the videos as well as read the on-line resources they have on the RYCA website; all the information is there to easily make the conversion. I took probably 60-80 hours, but I was not in any rush, and wanted not only to build it, but understand it as well.
Thanks Michael, great story. The bike looks awesome and will inspire a lot of people!
You can contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org
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