Sardinia’s MCafeGarage builds one sleek 650…
The Suzuki XF650 Freewind has been called the predecessor of the V-Strom. The Euro-styled single-cylinder all-rounder debuted in 1997, designed to rival the BMW F650. The engine came courtesy of the company’s tried-and-true DR650 dual-sport, mounted into a lowered frame with bulbous bodywork, LCD instrumentation, and 19-inch front wheel.
The Freewind soon proved itself as quite the capable canyon-carver:
“The XF650 turns out to have a strong liking for kinks and sick lean angles. Yes, we all know that D-P bikes can run circles around sportbikes in the tight twisties, but truly the Freewind is in a league of its own. Thanks to its lowered and stiffened DR suspension, the XF stays firm and steady at lean angles and speeds of which most D-P bikes can only dream.” —Motorcycle.com
What’s more, the Freewind could keep going when the pavement gave way to dirt:
“Well, you say, my Bandit 600 can do all the above with ease and power to spare. But what do you do when the road ends? In a word, the Suzuki can cope, and rather well at that.” —Motorcycle.com
If the Freewind sounds like a great platform for a custom build, we’d heartily. Recently, we heard from our friend Massimiliano Satta of Sardinia’s MCafeGarage, who’s been working on his own motorcycles since he was kid, and still races a 1000cc machine on the track. He came across this ’99 Freewind 650 in poor shape:
“It was about to be scrapped, had a lot of rust, and an engine to throw away. From there, the CHALLENGE!!!”
As if the poor state of the donor bike wasn’t enough, Massimiliano decided to double down, challenging himself to make the bike in his least favorite color: green!
The modifications were extensive, including a great deal of custom frame fabrication, Husky supermoto front end, customized Honda XL tank, 17-inch wheels, reworked electrical system, and much more. Massimiliano says the completed bike weighs more than 100 pounds less than the heavyweight original, and it handles like it:
“In short, a completely different bike from the original, which today weighs 50 kg less!”
Appropriately enough, it happens to have the same double-o designation as the world’s favorite secret agent:
“The bike is the no. 007…James Bond’s bike! Occhiolino! (Wink!)”
This is certainly a bike we could see Bond throwing his leg over as he chases the world’s baddies. Below, we talk to Massimiliano for the full story on the build.
Freewind 650 Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words…
M-CAFEGARAGE is a special place where I create my motorcycles.
For now, I’m just an enthusiast who builds a few bikes a year, because I try my best to express perfection and be unique. Everything comes from my drawings and what goes through my head when I have an old bike in front of me almost ready to be thrown away. I have been working on my bikes since I was a child, and now that I am 45, I still race on speed circuits with a 1000cc machine.
I worked on a base that has rarely been customized, a 1999 Suzuki Freewind 650. It was about to be scrapped, had a lot of rust, and an engine to throw away. From there, the CHALLENGE!!!
I’ve always had a negative conflict with the color green and this time I decided to challenge it by choosing a dark metallic green for the frame and tank and green leather for the saddle and grips.
The frame was cut into several parts, practically everything, and rebuilt by hand with iron pipes and sheet, all done by hand with the bender and wooden templates. The front end has been replaced with a more modern one that comes from a Husqvarna SM.
The tank is from a Honda XL550, rebuilt on the inside to fit into the frame. Re-adapted electrical system with lithium battery and ignition on the left side.
- Saddle and grips built directly on the bike by the master Luca Ronzoni of L.R. Leather.
- 17-inch diameter Excel rims, both front and rear, with Pirelli Scorpion Rally tires.
- Hand-built headlight, dash, and front fender.
- Nautical-derived instrumentation with GPS speed signaling.
- Many details such as the single YSS shock absorber with red spring to give it a touch of sportiness.
- Air filter from a FIAT 500 Abarth adapted for the new carburetors.
In short, a completely different bike from the original, which today weighs 50 kg less! Beautiful and quick to ride, very fun, and above all it stands out with its double-stacked exhaust, sound, and pointed tail. The bike is the no. 007…James Bond’s bike! Occhiolino! (Wink!)
Follow the Builder
Italy – Sardegna – Cagliari
Well, you really did a lot of modifications & improvements! It is nothing like the uninteresting donor bike. Plus, I love the color, deep metallic green. Only thing I am not loving is the front fender. Looks a little effeminate for such a rugged, macho bike. Reminds me of a pencil thin moustache. The man with a pencil moustache tends to be more 1920 ball room dancer…
Would like to see a front end and left side shot of this bike. Love the tank! I put a XL250 tank on my CX650. Cool exhaust and overall look/stance of this bike. Just me personally – would like some mud guards and it would be spot on.