“Very powerful and light, and with a unique shape…”
The Suzuki SV650 is one of the most popular motorcycles in company history, credited with rebirthing the lightweight twins racing class in the United States. The 645cc, liquid-cooled 90° V-twin offered 64-75 horsepower, with solid midrange torque, and the chassis was known for excellent, rider-friendly handling.
Enter Alf and Mihaela, the husband/wife duo of Romania’s Bandisca. Admittedly, Alf — aka Bandisca’s “grumpy owner” — wasn’t so sure at first of using a first-generation SV650 as a donor:
“I must recognize I was very skeptic with the idea, but Mihaela said ‘let’s go on,’ and when the boss says that it is Word…”
Indeed! 🙂 The donor was a 2001 Suzuki SV650S, which spent several weeks on the stand before they decided on the direction of the build. Then Mihaela came up with the design, inspired by one of Alf’s favorite motorcycles:
“The 1990 GSXR750 was your favourite bike some years ago, so let’s build an endurance version of the SV inspired on the 1990 GSXR!”
They spent many hours adapting a ’90s GSXR fairing, crafting the aluminum tail and custom subframe, and much more. But the bike was not meant merely as a showpiece — they wanted a true race bike. They fit a fully-adjustable Showa fork and bespoke YSS rear shock, and then Alf completely overhauled the engine, with special cams, carb tuning, water pump, and more:
“I worked hundred of hours on the engine… Basically all you can modify in this engine I modified.”
The result is the “Caballo de Hierro” (Iron Horse), which will be racing in the Café Racer Sprint at Germany’s Glemseck 101 at the end of this month. Below, we get the fully story on the build from Alf himself.
SV650 Endurance Racer: In the Builder’s Words
The concept of this bike was born one year ago, thinking about building something out of the ordinary for The Bike Shed Show 2019.
We received some support from Suzuki Moto Greece for going on a Suzuki donor, so thinking about that, we decided to use one of their bestsellers, the Suzuki SV650 K1.This bike was one of the bestselling Suzukis between 1999-2002, a very reliable bike with a good riding capabilities but…sooooo ugly.
The V2 powerplant has been one of the most used also over other brands, and is very well known for being bulletproof, not really because of its construction but because it is so underpowered. I mean, you can obtain a lot of extra power from it if tuning up some things as carbs, camshafts, exhaust…and eliminating its emission restrictions.
I must recognize I was very skeptic with the idea but Mihaela said “let’s go on” and when the boss says that it is Word…
So we found a 2001 S version in a good condition and we bought it. The bike was almost two months on the stand until we started to understand what to do with that freaky thing. Mihaela produced the first draft (so close with the final result) and after some fights she convinced me to build it when she told me: “the 1990 GSXR750 was your favourite bike some years ago, so let’s build an endurance version of the SV inspired on the 1990 GSXR!”
At that moment I started to contact the guys from Airtech Streamlining being the only producer that nowadays is making a perfect replica of the 1990s GSXR fairing, and they made one for us (cool people by the way), but that was not enough. We needed to make a lot of complicated mods on it for fitting the SV frame and Mihaela’s designed shape, so I built some aluminium adds that after mounted we needed to mask with epoxy resin so as not to feel the difference with the fiberglass main… But we did it!
The aluminium tail and the subframe has been handcrafted in house. Once we got all that we start to mess with the tank. No Suzuki one that matched the SV frame was giving us the shape we wanted, so I decided to betray Suzuki and use a Honda tank. The NTV one was matching what Mihaela designed so we start to search for one. Fortunately our dear friend Leo from Caferacercult.gr found one in Athens and sent it to us…
So problem solved, we just needed to put all that together, simply… Or not…hahaha!! The process of matching everything was long and required a lot of creativity fabricating small fitting parts.
I was very obsessed along the building process about making not only a good-looking bike but also a very performance one, so I worked hundred of hours on the engine…complete overhaul, special camshafts, carb tuning, performance clutch with hydraulic actuator, special water pump, Woodcraft caps, custom handmade exhaust manifolds with a Spark GP Muffler… Basically all you can modify in this engine I modified.
Also rideability in hard conditions was a target so we went on a Showa full settable Upside Down fork on the front end and a bespoke YSS Suspension rear shock that the guys from YSS Europe built specially for this bike. On electrics we trusted Motogadget and an M-unit is commanding all, that simplified my life a lot.
The result is this freaky beast, very powerful and light, and with a unique shape — actually people find it hard to identify the donor model.
Now it’s time to race it… because it was built for that… next stop will be the Café Racer Sprint at Glemseck 101 in Stuttgart…
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Photo credit: Mihaela Lopez