Here at BikeBound, we are suckers for anything 2-stroke. Nothing beats the banshee-scream of an oil-burner, especially if it’s one of the twin or triple 2-stroke street kings of the 70s. Enter Steve Baugrud and his 1975 Suzuki T500 Titan. At the time, the Titan was the largest 2-stroke twin introduced in the post-WWII era. It offered 46 horsepower — 11 more than the RD400 — and quickly gained a reputation as being bombproof.
Below, Steve gives us the full story on this 2-stroke cafe racer, built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
2-Stroke Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by Steve Baugrud. Highlights by us.)
A little about me — I work in healthcare. I live outside of Milwaukee. Building bikes is a hobby, and I am self-taught. Everything is done out of my garage. I have built around 6-7 bikes so far, and this particular bike (I feel), is my best endeavor. All the others have been sold to fund the next project, but this one will be kept and ridden. I have a couple other bikes in my garage including a Kawasaki ZRX1100 and a Harley XR1200 (of course, I live near Milwaukee).
The bike started as a 1975 Suzuki T500 that was sitting outside for 20 plus years. It was totally rusted out. Despite that, it started right up after about 10 minutes of work on the bike once I got it home. After that, I proceeded to dismantle the entire bike and I threw away or sold about 1/2 of it because of the decay and rust.
First off, I de-tabbed and strengthened the frame by welding in two additional cross braces. New custom made oil tank hangs underneath frame rails. The engine was completely torn down and rebuilt- including crank seals and bearings, crankcase, re-boring cylinders with Wiseco pistons, and everything was vapor blasted or polished. The chambers are polished stainless units from Higgspeed in the UK and sound pretty awesome. The bespoke rearsets are polished units from Titan performance, also from the UK, made for the T500 specifically.
Seat is formed aluminum with the custom-made upholstery. The tank is from a XS750 Yamaha that I modified to work with the T500 frame.
Wheels are made from NOS rims and spokes, mounted to freshly polished hubs. Tires are Avon.
Paint is by the incredible painter known as ‘Artistimo‘ (AKA Jason LeCavalier). He laid down a charcoal metallic base coat. The Lime areas are metal flake followed by Candy Lime Green. The white stripes are metallic with metal flake. All the stripes, number plates, pinstriping and Suzuki logos were hand painted – no decals or stencils here! This thing is really bright in the sun! I welded on bungs to accept the Pingel petcocks- one for each carb.
For the electrical, I threw out the stock harness and did a complete re-wire with simplicity and reliability in mind. All relays, fuses, ignition switch, and bar switches are new. Powerdynamo supplied the electronic ignition upgrade, CDI unit, coils, and new Permanent magnet rotor. The bike is designed to run without a battery, but I installed a capacitor to smooth out the voltage.
Up front, there is a new headlight and out back there is a slick little X-arc duo setup. This unit has dual color output LEDS and functions as running, brake and turn signals. Even though they are tiny, the light output is incredible. In true cafe racer form, I wanted simplicity and light weight =- so I omitted front signals, horn, battery, and gauges.
This bike is meant to ride. It’s not a garage queen. In the short time since completion, I have put about 750 miles on it. It is surprisingly comfortable and handles really well. With dual drum brakes, you have to plan ahead for stopping.
My photographer is Erin Krizizke