Milwaukee’s Steve Baugrud builds one sweet smoker…
In 1973, Suzuki unveiled the GT185 Adventurer, a 21-hp air-cooled two-stroke parallel twin with Ram Air, crank case oil injection, electric start, and a front disc brake. The sub-200cc category had suddenly become a hot market — the OPEC oil embargo had led to gasoline shortages and price spikes, and people were ditching four wheels in favor of two. In the States alone, more than 1.5 million new motorcycles would leave showroom floors — more than triple the 2019 sales figures! Said Cycle of the Adventurer:
“The Suzuki 185 is an impressive machine: a refined, smooth, civil piece of hardware with nary a ragged edge.”
Enter Steve Baugrud, a self-taught garage builder out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, whose Suzuki T500 cafe racer we featured back in 2017. Believe it or not, this project began when Steve scored a ’74 GT185 donor for free. The owner was moving and needed the bike gone. It was in rough shape, missing many parts, but free is free.
“From there, I determined that a restoration would not make much sense economically. I decided to do another stripped-down cafe racer instead.”
Steve did a full rebuild of the engine, de-tabbed the frame, and had nearly every part of the machine powder-coated by none other than Nick Petterson of Milwaukee’s Moto-Fied Cycles / WisCoat Refinishing — a fellow builder whose customs we’ve featured here on BikeBound.com. Even the tank is powder! Speaking of which, Steve welded new bungs into the Honda replica tank and made a self-sealing quick-release coupler for the fuel crossover tube, thereby avoiding messy spills. The end product is one of the sweetest little smokers we’ve seen. Says Steve:
“This is a fun little bike. It’s lightweight and peppy. In my opinion, the best feature are the stunning Higgspeed chambers. They feature GP style silencers and hand-polished stainless construction. They sound incredible!”
If you’re interested in this hot little smoker, keep an eye on Bring a Trailer — it will be for sale soon! Below, we get the full story on the build from Steve himself.
Update: The GT185 is now live on BaT!
Suzuki GT185 Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
I am a garage builder who does 1-2 builds per year in my free time. You featured my Suzuki T500 two stroke a couple years back.
I got this bike for free – it was posted on one of the two-stroke Facebook groups. The guy was moving away and needed it gone to a good home. It was missing many parts and was in rough shape. From there, I determined that a restoration would not make much sense economically. I decided to do another stripped-down cafe racer instead.
I did a complete rebuild on the motor after vapor-honing the cases and cylinder heads. The side covers are powder-coated. New pistons, seals and several new transmission gears were installed.
The frame was de-tabbed and cleaned up. I had a steel electronics tray and oil reservoir fabricated to my specifications. The electronics tray hides the harness (which was stripped down), the regulator and small battery.
I wasn’t happy with the stock tank, so I sourced an “eBay special” Honda replica tank. When I got the tank, I quickly realized that the petcock was garbage and the tunnels were so deep that fuel wouldn’t get from side to side. I ended up welding on a new steel bung and used a Harley-style, high-quality petcock instead. I also welded in new bungs and brass fittings for a crossover tube so fuel is live from right to left. As many of you who work on these know, crossover tubes can be a nightmare when you remove the tank — gas spills everywhere. For this, I sourced a self-sealing, quick release coupler so there are no spills when disconnecting the crossover tubes.
The seat pan is custom-made to my specifications from sheet steel. Upholstery is from Ginger at New Church Moto, and the taillight is a billet unit with LED lights.
Nick Petterson, the owner of WisCoat Refinishing, did a fantastic job on the powder coating. Nearly every surface is powder coated for durability. The frame, wheels, spokes, hubs, forks, caliper, and engine covers. Even the tank and seat pan are powder-coated.
Avon Streetrunner AV83 tires provide vintage looks and modern grip.
This is a fun little bike. It’s lightweight and peppy. In my opinion, the best feature are the stunning Higgspeed chambers. They feature GP style silencers and hand-polished stainless construction. They sound incredible!
Keep an eye peeled. This bike will be listing on Bringatrailer in the next couple weeks.