The Silver Fox – Speedtractor’s Deceptively Simple Suzuki TU250GB.
Passion and restraint. Two opposing forces, constantly at play within the mind of the custom motorcycle creator. Too little or too much of either being the difference between going back to the drawing board or conjuring success like this latest build from Tokyo’s Speedtractor — The Silver Fox.
Those well-read will know Speedtractor’s Matthew Roberts is also the design mind and hands behind the Japan branch of another well-loved custom motorcycle moniker. Though by his own admission, the design and creativity required to support both endeavors sees them actually complement one another rather than compete.
This particular build afforded a chance to exhibit a degree of measure and restraint, a vessel to showcase Speedtractor’s craftsmanship within a real world budget, letting balanced geometry of its subtly reworked frame lines be the hero, while the repetition of the diagonal strokes of frame down tube and rear suspension offer a visual rhythm and harmony rarely seen on motorcycles of this century.
“We met the client a few years before, a gentleman who’s taste belied his youth” explains Roberts. “He’d explained his love of geometry and symmetry at length and we’d agreed to accept the challenge should he ever decide he required a motorcycle to explore the city and beyond.”
And in 2017 the challenge was taken up. The donor machine selected was Suzuki’s 250cc Grasstracker Big Boy, a robust and refreshingly simple single cylinder with engine fins and castings of good honest proportions, as while the owner desired timelessness in design, he was clear that the riding and ownership experience was not to be marred by a lack of reliability or overly frequent maintenance.
Paring back the motorcycle to its simplest elements, then judiciously adding refined details was the order of the day. The rear light incorporated to the rear frame loop and carefully mirrored by the leather seat’s lower line, so as reward more careful inspection without adding clutter. While the full stainless exhaust in a brushed finish borrows its lines from the frame and lends the single a throaty growl.
The one thing the Suzuki wasn’t providing in stock form, however, was the geometry the client desired. To achieve this, Speedtractor have created a new rear half of the frame, so that the frame tubes extended uninterrupted, accentuating the line under the tank while the swing arm was then reduced in length 50mm to allow the front frame tube, mid frame down tube and rear suspension to share a near parallel axis.
The almost monotone colour execution of medium silver mechanicals and frame set below a grey tank are accepted by the oxblood red seat. Here the sublime details extend beyond the immediately visible, for the one off seat base was lovingly shaped by hand with dolly and hammer from aluminum, before its sculpted foam was upholstered in a tightly diamond stitched, tanned to order leather. Or the one-off tanks seamless construction, set off only by the simplest chrome cap and accompanied by the smooth action of a Pingel fuel tap.
Headlight, stays, speedometer and mount are all equally simple, functional and carefully positioned to keep lines clean while featuring hand-made alloy accents. Electrics, USB charge port, toll card reader and lithium battery are housed discreetly in the tray under the seat allowing for the machine to support push button start plus a full compendium of devices for the modern day adventure.
Speedtractor and the client are duly satisfied with the results of their exercise in restraint, though Roberts goes on to explain, “We’re considering it phase 1…” and are already chatting to the client about cleaning up the bars with a set of mini switches, internal throttle, a more compact master cylinder and maybe a CR or FCR carb “… When he stops riding it for long enough to fit them that is.”
Special Thanks to…
- Miauchi-san for sublime stitch work
- Nakata-san for paint perfection as always
- William Greenawalt for moving pictures
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