In 1990, Suzuki released the DR800 Big, the largest mass-production single-cylinder dual-sport ever available to the buying public. The “dashing desert styling” came straight from the mighty DR-Zeta Paris-Dakar bike, as piloted by Gaston Rahier, and the massive 779cc dual-carb engine offered 52 hp and 44 lb-ft of torque — a big-bore king among thumpers.
“No standard bike has a larger cylinder displacement than the DR Big. The engine is also narrower than any twin off-road engine. The enormous single suits well those who think twins are too clumsy and need more power than the smaller singles can offer.” –Suzuki Cycles
Unfortunately, we never received the DR Big here in the States, but they were popular in Europe. These days, however, many of them have grown quite long in the tooth, with battered plastics, missing parts, and leaky seals — bikes in need of a rebirth.
That’s where our friends at Portugal’s Unik Edition Custom Cycles come into the mix. One of their customers had a rusty ’91 DR Big that he wanted to transform into a cool custom, and headman Tiago Gonçalves had an immediate idea for inspiration, the “art chassis” of this Lisbon-built Defender 110:
Moreover, Unik Edition would collaborate with the very same painter behind that Rover project, Lisbon-based artist Vasco Costa — a match made in motoring heaven!
Vasco set to work hand-painting the frame, tank, swingarm, bashplate, and more. Meanwhile the Unik Edition crew handled the rest of the build.
They re-laced the original hubs to new powder-coated rims, fabricated the side covers, shortened the subframe, added a custom saddle, TIG-welded a new exhaust with modified Arrow silencers, outfitted the bike with new fenders, and installed a vintage headlight imported from Japan and placed inside a Honda housing.
The cockpit was also completely transformed with Renthal motocross bars and grips, a Daytona speedometer, new levers and fluid reservoirs, and more. Nicknamed “Big Suzy,” this 800cc scrambler is lighter, quicker, and much more streamlined than the beat-up original — a bike that’s truly “Unik.”
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1991 Suzuki DR800 Big One.
• What was the design concept and what inspired the build?
The story of this Suzuki DR800 Big One is super cool. A customer had this original but rusty DR800 and said that he wanted something cool. So I said why not do something more artistic, like the Cool ‘n’ Vintage Land Rover that went to California.
So we went front there! Vasco Costa, the same artist who painted the Land Rover, painted this frame. For sure this DR800 it is one of a kind, and even being a piece of art, the mindset is: GO GO GO!
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Collaboration with artist Vasco Costa for the hand painting (frame & tank)
New adapted Suzuki tank
All fairings removed
Custom-made side covers
Adapted Arrow mufflers (shortened 12 cm from original Yamaha XTZ models)
Complete new exhaust system from engine to muffler, TIG-welded
New spokes and powder-coated rims
New speedometer, brake, clutch levers
Custom leather seat
Vintage headlight (imported from Japan, assembled in a Honda headlight housing)
Custom license plate holder and turn lights
Cockpit: Daytona speedo, Brembo brake, Domino clutch, Renthal bar, chain, and grips
• Does this project have a nickname?
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The transformation from “Big” to a size that makes you want to ride. Now it looks like a modern bike.
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