WKND Customs builds a shaft-drive sled for the Parisian streets…
In the 1980s, the Suzuki GS1100G was the company’s largest shaft-drive motorcycle, featuring an 8-valve DOHC inline four that produced 92 bhp and 62 lb-ft of torque. While it didn’t have the peak horsepower of the mighty 16-valve GSX1100, the big shaft-drive GS1100 offered more torque and plenty of practical function:
“With 92 horses and dynamo-smooth torque on tap, the Suzuki makes easy work not only of pulling its own 550lb and five gallons of fuel, but carrying people and luggage as well.” -MCN, 1982
Over the years, we’ve featured a couple of builds from Sérgio Almeida of Porto, Portugal’s WKND Customs. As the name suggests, the shop started as only a weekend venture while Sérgio worked as a full-time designer. However, it soon began to gain momentum:
“After some time I started to receive a fair amount of orders for bikes and custom parts — it was clear that I needed and wanted to dedicate more time to this, so I quit my job and accepted a part-time gig as an art director. I don’t want to make this a full time thing, at least for now, to avoid taking the focus from the creative and fun side of things…”
This 1984 GS1100G actually came to him in boxes from a French client, who wanted an alternative to his big BMW GS for riding around Paris:
“The idea was to keep this a low budget and a quick project…. Of course things escalated a bit, and took way longer than expected.”
Don’t they always! Sérgio de-tabbed the frame, cut and shortened the tail with a rear loop, and reworked the rear section of the tank to better align with the frame — detailed work that pays big dividends in the end:
“Things that I believe make the difference in the end, to make everything just look right.”
He made new smaller, simpler side covers, re-positioned the ignition, simplified the wiring, rebuilt and lowered the forks, added YSS rear shocks built to spec, cut and rewelded the existing 4:1 exhaust for better fitment, and after months of assembling the right parts from all over Europe, he had a trusted mechanic rebuild the engine.
Sérgio’s attention to design and detail shine through on this build, and there are small, smart elements everywhere you look, from the freshly zinc-plated hardware to the soft goods:
“The seat is covered in oxblood genuine leather, and to match these accent colours, I used some Biltwell recoil grips and NGK spark plug caps in similar colours. It also has a red start button and a custom key chain made with the same leather from the seat.”
In the end, this is one beefy, eye-catching roadster that’s sure to turn heads all over Paris and beyond. Below, Sérgio goes into full detail on various elements of the build, and we share more shots from photographer Joel Araújo (@joel_picsel).
About WKND Customs
This is a small project / business that aims to join the worlds of design and motorcycle fabrication, from ideas to reality, from the digital render to the final build. This started only on weekends and spare time, as the name suggests, while working as a designer full time. After some time I started to receive a fair amount of orders for bikes and custom parts — it was clear that I needed and wanted to dedicate more time to this, so I quit my job and accepted a part time gig as an art director. I don’t want to make this a full time thing, at least for now, to avoid taking the focus from the creative and fun side for things like profits or time tracking.
About the Build: 1984 Suzuki GS1100G
It all started when the client happened to be in Portugal when I was showing a Kawasaki KZ400 that I’d just built for someone else. In no time he was sitting on the bike, taking photos, and told me he wanted to commission a bike.
A couple of days later he dropped off a Yamaha XT600 at the workshop. I sent him a render with the concept for the Yamaha, and his reaction was so good,that he called me right away asking if I wanted to build another bike, a 1984 Suzuki GS1100G.
He sent me some photos, and after another render with a concept, he ended up loading the bike in a van and driving all the way from Paris to deliver it to me. It was in that moment that I realized the nice assembled bike that he showed me in a couple of photos was now just parts (and not all of them) in boxes with a couple of labels in French. He’d intended to build the bike himself but soon understood that was no easy task.
He has a BMW GS for long rides, so this one was intended to be used to ride around Paris city center, where the BMW was too tall and heavy to manage in the traffic. The idea was to keep this a low budget and a quick project. Since the XT600 will be a more ambitious project, we just started with this one. Of course things escalated a bit, and took way longer than expected.
First thing to do was to assemble the bike again, check the condition, and begin all the fabrication work.
The frame was de-tabbed, the rear shortened with a loop, and the gas tank received some work on the rear section, with some subtle cuts and small adjustments on the position to be more aligned with the rear frame — things that I believe make the difference in the end, to make everything just look right.
I kept all the electronics under the seat as it originally was, but everything was re-arranged to stay “inside” of the frame width. For the side covers, I used the original items as a basis to make new, smaller and simpler ones. New mounts were made and they were repositioned to leave the frame tubes exposed.
The ignition switch is now positioned on the side, and an in-house built control unit helps to keep the wiring simpler and control the lights via push buttons. For the suspension, the rear received longer YSS shocks built to the bike’s specs and the front was rebuilt, lowered, and a pair of fork boots installed.
The bike came with a few non-stock but interesting items, like an angular front fender that was used to make two new short ones for the front and back and a 4-1 exhaust system. That was poorly adapted to the bike and it was sitting too far away from the engine and frame. So I cut the header tubes, re-positioned and welded everything in place to properly fit the bike. Some dents were repaired and it was painted in black. Finishing it is a stainless short muffler.
Another re-purposed item was the headlight brackets, which were used upside down, shortened and restyled, so the new LED headlight could sit lower and closer to bike. For the rear light I used an LED light with a custom-made aluminium body and steel bracket.
The wheels were rebuilt, powder-coated black, and a pair of Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres were mounted for an aggressive look while keeping decent road performance.
For stopping those, the Tokico brakes were completely cleaned, rebuilt, and powder coated. New stainless lines installed along with new brake pads and a pair of new levers with a tiny reservoir and shaved at the ends for a cleaner look.
The engine received some much-needed attention. As the bike was already in boxes, I didn’t have the chance to see it running, but the engine was leaking oil from several places with silicon all over the gaskets in a failed attempt to stop the leaks. So a rebuild was started, and this was when the build just hit a big delay. I wanted to use OEM parts, and after an initial order with everything needed, the emails with parts no longer available or out of stock started to arrive.
I didn’t want to give up, and after several hours of searching, orders canceled, and months of waiting, I had everything I needed to start, coming from all over the Europe — the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Sweden… The engine was finally rebuilt by a mechanic of trust with oversized pistons, new starter clutch, and everything needed to run as good as new. It was painted black, the side covers powder-coated, and I made some custom side logo badges.
The carburetors were also rebuilt with new jetting due to the air pods and opened exhaust. To keep everything on brand, WKND can be now read on the air pods with some custom aluminium letters. Some custom badges were also made to replace the original items on the tank.
That was another part that delayed the project. As I’m trying to focus more on the design and fabrication of the builds, where I think I can make the difference, and to speed up the process I rely on experienced professionals to help with some parts of the process, like the engine rebuild. I usually take care of cleaning and sealing the tanks, but I just started working with this painter that could paint and seal the tank for me. The paint went well, but the sealing part was a mess, the job was not well done, and the products used were not the best. So everything just started to peal off after putting in gas for the first time. He even tried to fix it, two times, but it was only getting worse. So I ended doing it myself.
As everything was powder coated or painted in satin black, leaving just some aluminium parts and the freshly zinc plated or chromed hardware for contrast. The tank, side covers, and fenders were the only items painted in high gloss black to stand out. And to make the bike look fast, even when stopped, some silver stripes were added on the sides.
The seat is covered in oxblood genuine leather, and to match these accent colours, I used some Biltwell recoil grips and NGK spark plug caps in similar colours. It also has a red start button and a custom key chain made with the same leather from the seat.
To finish the bike there’s some other details like aluminium footpegs, a Daytona speedo, Tomaselli handlebars, a custom side license plate mount, and LED bar end turn signals used front and back (behind the upper shock mounts).
The bike was then finally shipped to Paris where the owner promptly sent me a smiley picture with it as soon as it arrived. I’m currently building the XT600 to accompany the Suzuki in his garage.
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Photos: Joel Araújo (@joel_picsel)