Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer by Macdonald Hastings Design (MHD)


Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer

Two-Stroke Street Weapon…with Patina

If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you know we love the smell of two-stroke oil in the morning. Smells like…victory. Enter Ewen Macdonald and his 1974 Suzuki GT550, which he bought for less than £500! At first he had no real design concept other than to fit the Harris swingarm to the frame and go from there.

Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer

The GT550 was the middleweight entry in Suzuki’s series of 70s-era two-stroke street triples, each named after a race track:  GT380 Sebring, GT550 Indy, and GT750 Le Mans. The GT550 had a ram-air system developed from Suzuki’s T500 racer, and Cycle World called the 50-hp 550 two-stroke light and narrow enough for “deft canyon road maneuvering or hustling through traffic.” The bike had a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds and wailed through the 1/4 mile in 14.59 seconds at 87.8 mph.

Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer

Ewen Macdonald — a construction foreman — worked with friends in various areas of expertise to produce the hybrid two-stroke cafe racer / streetfighter / custom you see here. We especially like the tank patina, with the Vincent-esque custom logos that pay homage to Ewen’s grandmother, as well as the way Gus from Muddy Beach Customs was able to paint-match the plastics to the original patina of the tank.

Below, we get the full story on this two-stroke street banshee.

Custom Suzuki GT550:  In the Builder’s Words

Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

I’m a construction foreman and I’ve always enjoyed mucking about with old motorbikes. I’ve restored a few and sold on. I’ve done a bit of racing when I was younger. I work on my bikes in my garage after work.

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?

Suzuki Gt550 1974.

• What was the story behind the build? What custom work was done?

I first seen a picture of the MotoHangar Honduki in Motorcycle News and felt like I needed to do something similar. Years later I bumped into an friend who offered me his old scrap Gt550 and happened to have a Harris Swingarm as well. So the lot was purchased for £480.

Motohangar Honduki
Motohangar Honduki: Ewen’s Inspiration

Next, a mate (Willie from Dynotech eccosse) said Yantosh from bluntforcetrama_inc could help me realise my build. He cut and fabricated the frame to suit the single seat unit and shock as well as making the GSX-R1000 K1 front end fit with a one off top yoke. He also fabricated the oil tank located under the tail unit.

Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer

The tank is patina not touched since 1974. I cleaned it out and sealed it. I wanted to do something to commemorate my grandmother and loved the Vincent logo. So I changed it to suit (MHD) Macdonald Hastings Design. Then had the stickers made up and lacquered in.

Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer

Gus from Muddy Beach Customs matched the plastics to the patina of the tank.

The engine caused a bit of trouble. Had to be rebuilt 3 times. But that’s another story. The seat I made to suit the space and had a upholstery company cover it.

• How would you classify this bike?

Not sure.

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

The tank, and the way Gus from Muddy Beach Customs paint-matched the plastics to the patina of the tank. The hard work Yantosh put into the fabrication.

Photos:  Dave Manning

Suzuki GT550 Cafe Racer


  1. Cool bike. I love the stance, the cowl behind the seat.

    For me the bodywork would have to be repainted. In my mind “patina” only makes sense if the whole bike has it. If only part of the bike has patina, then it just looks unfinished.

  2. Im very interested in what kind of power a old tricked out 2strokecan make i have same bike my plans were to replace sleves add reed valves & cages race porting and all the modern goodness min that has evolved sence then what power does this bike make with just the tuned pipes its listed as 50 hp stock. Anyone knowledgeable please tell !

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