Hand-built in a simple garage — sometimes without electricity!
The Suzuki DR250 “Djebel” was a four-stroke dual-purpose motorcycle named for a mountain in North Africa. The 249cc mountain goat had dual disc brakes, USD forks, and 29 horsepower on tap. While it may not seem like the most ideal platform for a cafe racer project, workshops like Le French Atelier and Lucky Custom have demonstrated what you can do with a dual-sport donor.
Enter our new friend Sergey (@kapranoff_64) of Saratov City, Russia, who’s been tuning and customizing cars for most of his life. Recently, however, he was feeling burned out and decided to try his hand at a two-wheeled project:
“This project is my first motorcycle — until this time I didn’t own a motorcycle or even ride one.”
He came across the carcass of a 1995 Suzuki DR250 — nothing more than a seized engine and incomplete frame. However, inspired by the workshops mentioned above, he embarked on a journey to create a cafe racer out of the DR.
“I spent all my free time in a regular garage where sometimes there was no electricity… There were no special tools and expensive equipment in the garage — absolutely everything was done by hand.”
Sergey says he spent two months alone on the frame, trying to get the lines and geometry right, then mated up a Suzuki RF400 swingarm and Suzuki GSX-R600 front end. He also learned to work with fiberglass over the course of the project, developing much of the bodywork from scratch.
Sergey does admit that the cafe racer ergonomics are not the most comfortable, but the pride of riding a machine he designed and built himself — not to mention the appreciative nods from pedestrians and other drivers — are worth the cramped riding position 🙂
Below, we get the full details on the build, as well as more photos from Dmitry Khokhlov (@idimazs).
DR250 Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
All my life I was interested in the customization cars; I attended many exhibitions and festivals! I often built cars in stance style, but one winter I got bored and decided to try to build a motorcycle.
One day I saw the remains of a wonderful Suzuki DR250 enduro for sale. It was really just a set of parts — a faulty engine and a piece of a frame. I decided this was ideal for my project.
Since I didn’t know anything about building a motorcycle, I started by looking for parts and I was lucky to find a rear end from a Suzuki RF400 and a front end from a Suzuki GSX-R600. After some modifications, they fit perfectly into the frame, and after much thought, mistakes and trials, the frame was welded.
The tank was taken from a Yamaha and the seat and rear cowl are handcrafted from fiberglass. Clip-ons and throttle are from a Kawasaki. The headlight is from a Jeep Wrangler. Thus, after half a year of work, Frankenstein appeared!
• Please tell us a bit more about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop
Hello, my name is Sergey and I am 35 years old. This project is my first motorcycle — until this time I didn’t own a motorcycle or even ride one. Since childhood, I liked cars and everything connected with them, so I got carried away with modernization and tuning early. I mainly built lowriders. But one day I wanted to try something new and I decided to build the first motorcycle in my life. It was very difficult but interesting.
I spent all my free time in a regular garage where sometimes there was no electricity. My friends helped me to build the bike, who enjoyed spending their free time doing an interesting activity. There were no special tools and expensive equipment in the garage — absolutely everything was done by hand.
• What’s it like to ride the completed bike?
I’ve always liked café racer style motorcycles — I often imagined how awesome it was on one of them, so I chose this style for construction. I tried to adhere to the rules of building a cafe racer, but when I first rode my motorcycle, I realized that it was completely uncomfortable. I tried to adapt, but in the end I realized that it was not for convenience, but for a beautiful measured ride.
I didn’t know how to ride a motorcycle and I had to learn again. When all the walking people looked at me, I realized that I managed to build a beautiful motorcycle and it didn’t matter at all whether it was comfortable or not 🙂
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
It took me the longest time to build the frame. For two months of work on the frame, 10 options were made. And every time I thought what could be done better, I cut everything off again, and redid it until it was perfect.
Another achievement was the development of working with fiberglass. I literally learned how to work with epoxy resin and composite materials from scratch. There were three options for the rear cap in which the battery was hidden, but in the end there was only one.
• Do you have another project in the works, bike or car?
Yes, at the same time with the motorcycle, I’ve been building my favorite toy, a BMW E46 coupe on air suspension.
• Who is the photographer?
The photographer is my good friend, Dmitry Khokhlov (@idimazs).