Introduced in 1990, the Suzuki DR650 has now been in production for more than 30 years, developing a reputation for bulletproof reliability and toughness in a range of climates and terrain. The air/oil-cooled single-cylinder engine is counterbalanced for smoothness, putting out a solid 46 horsepower, and the bike weighs 366 pounds wet. Said Ultimate Motorcycling of the 2019 model:
“What’s important is how well the DR650S does its dual jobs—handling commuter and around town duties during the week, and hitting the dirt on weekends for a bit of play. The DR650S a great package, as it is reliable, low-maintenance, and will take you just about anywhere with a smile on your face.”
Enter our friend Sebastien Ledis, who spent a decade and a half as a chef before making a professional conversion and opening his own workshop in the southwest of France, Seb’s Atelier. Sebastien’s Honda CX500 made our list of the Top 10 Cafe Racers of 2020, but now he’s back with something completely different, a street tracker he built just for himself during France’s Covid-19 lockdown.
The donor is a 1990 Suzuki DR650 Djebel — a fairly common machine in Europe that he picked up cheap. Just about every aspect of the machine has been replaced, rebuilt, customized, or fabricated: wheels, suspension, tank, subframe, lighting, electrical system, you name it. Sebastien didn’t leave the engine alone either:
“Engine: crankshaft, camshaft, cylinder head, rocker arms, valve seat, valves, valve guide, rotor, gearbox, distribution chain, clutch, reinforced connecting rod, high compression, piston, intake pipe, carburetor.”
The result is one stout thumper. Combined with the quick-turn throttle, Sebastien says the bike is easy to wheelie through first, second, and third gears — a real hoot in town and the surrounding streets! As for the nickname, “COCO,” it’s a nod to the (CO)VID-19 lockdown and legendary French designer Coco Chanel. Below, we get the full story on this DR650 street tracker!
Suzuki DR Street Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
After a professional reconversion (formerly a chef), I opened my workshop at end 2018 beside Bordeaux in France.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Suzuki DR650 Djebel, 1990.
• Why was this bike built?
I built this bike for company promotion and myself.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Find a cheap single cylinder motorcycle to do a flat tracker. I had a Harley Davidson 750cc flat track rear seat and LSL handlebar in the garage.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Everything was redone or customised on the bike.
Engine: crankshaft, camshaft, cylinder head, rocker arms, valve seat, valves, valve guide, rotor, gearbox, distribution chain, clutch, reinforced connecting rod, high compression, piston, intake pipe, carburetor.
New wheels, braking, suspension, lowering the forks, frame modifications, new full tank from Yamaha RD125 , homemade LED lighting, epoxy powder on the frame, electrical system.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“COCO” because I built this bike during the first COVID19 lockdown. (CO)VID / COCO CHANEL: French fashion designer; nice name for this period.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Flat tracker style for the street. Perfect in the city center. Has a quick-turn throttle for wheelie-ing in first, second, third gear!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Take a popular motorcycle that doesn’t have to be expensive and turn it into a completely different motorcycle with a nice paint job. You don’t have to have a 25,000 euros motorcycle for people to turn their heads and tell you, “I love your bike.” We can have fun for much less.