A bespoke GS, built for a vintage tailor…
Launched in 1976, the Suzuki GS series was the company’s first full-fledged line of four-stroke street bikes, which developed a reputation for solid handling and bulletproof, over-engineered engines. The GS750’s air-cooled inline-four would become the model for Suzuki air-cooled fours until the introduction of the GSX-R, including the 77-hp shaft-drive GS850 — a bike that managed to charm the jaded test riders of the motorcycle publishing industry:
“The GS850, you see, is an excellent motorcycle. It is extremely comfortable, handles as well as all but the most sporting bikes, is fast enough for anyone without some sort of glandular problem, and is reliable. In fact, the GS850G has the distinction of being one of those bikes that keeps charming its owners years after the new paint has been scraped off.” —Motorcyclist, 1983
No surprise, then, that today’s custom bike builders have been rediscovering the GS850 as a great platform for customization — a vintage bike with power, reliability, and traditional lines. The bike you see here is an ’81 GS850 from our friends at Lisbon’s Unik Edition Custom Motorcycles, built for a long-time friend of the shop:
“The customer is a tailor — into vintage style — so we knew from the start that this would be the mindset — something elegant, vintage but at the same time powerful!”
Nicknamed “Mahogany,” this 40-year-old GS is now sporting a custom subframe and saddle, custom mudguards, Motogadget LED lighting, a Vance & Hines 4-into-1 exhaust, completely new wheels and paint, and much more. Says Tiago of Unik Edition:
“With the excellent sound, riding this bike is always very nice. You can feel the carburetors opening at every throttle.”
Below, we get a few more details about this “tailor-made” build, along with more shots from photographer Miguel Velasco (@miguelvelascopc).
Suzuki GS850 Custom: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1981 Suzuki GS850.
• Why was this bike built?
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
We have known this client since 2017. He has been following our work and occasionally we met at events. This year we announced a Suzuki GS850 for sale. Unexpectedly, the client called us and said that this would be the ideal bike to move forward with a project. From then on everything went very well, and the final result is here.
The customer is a tailor — into vintage style — so we knew from the start that this would be the mindset — something elegant, vintage but at the same time powerful!
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- Custom sub-frame
- Custom leather seat and seat structure
- Custom fenders
- Complete paint job (wheels, tanks, headlight bucket, side covers)
- Motogadget LED turn lights
- Electronic speedmeter
- New wheels
- New handlebar, grips, mirrors, etc.
- Custom license plate holder
- New 4:1 Vance & Hines exhaust
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Super cool position to ride. With the excellent sound, riding this bike is always very nice. You can feel the carburetors opening at every throttle.