FROM THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI TO THE GOLD COAST!
Part One – Dean's story
It was the Summer of 1982 in a small mid-western town on the banks of mighty Mississippi River.
I had recently graduated from high school and was working part time at the local supermarket along with several of my mates. By now we had all shed our quads, three-wheelers and farm bikes and, with our hourly wage money burning a hole in our pockets, we all dreamed of new street bikes.
In the early 80’s we were spoiled for choice but, in our town, there was only one dealer - Riverview Sports (still in business today) which sold Suzuki. So around came the day for me to secure my first Saturday night cruiser. Unfortunately, I had virtually no money, I'd only managed to save up a mere $20 bucks and I still needed to persuade the bank to lend me the $2869 needed to buy it. Back then, zero money down loans…“You're dreaming mate!” (today that would equate to about $10K).
Fortunately, I knew the dealer’s owner was not afraid of showing some clever accounting on the sale paperwork that the bank needed to approve the loan. A couple of hours later I’m riding the bike home feeling on top of the world! Hell, I didn’t even have money for a helmet! After all, it’s 1982 - who the HELL needs one of those?!
And then a few hours later the bike and I are sprawled across the front lawn of the local KFC, a casualty of too much speed in a sandy curve. I was carted off to the hospital in the back of an ambulance and the bike and its pieces were carted back to the dealership. To this day I still can’t stand the smell of KFC!
The bike recovered faster than me, thanks to the insurance cover. As soon as it was repaired my mates brought it by the house. I could only take looking at it for so long before, with my leg half in a plaster cast, I tossed the crutches and got back on. For three years I rode as much as possible and as late into the seasons as I could before the snow came, at which time it would be put away until Winter’s end which would/could last up to six months! Then came the day that university, work, and adult life got in the way and I sold the bike to a mate.
Fast forward 35 years and I have been living in Australia for 16 plus years. Over the years I thought of the bike and the great times and how good it would be to have it back. Obtaining one here in Australia was not an option as Suzuki did not sell the model here. So, I set out to track it down in the USA. Thanks to social media, friends, and relatives I did just that - unfortunately the bike was now in New York - 15 hours from my hometown and halfway across the US.
My uncle accepted the job to drive out to NY with a trailer to inspect it and, if it was all there, buy it back and haul it to North Carolina to put in a container for its voyage to Brisbane. On arrival, we found that the exhaust system and mudguards were rusted beyond saving so, whilst back in the USA in 2019, I found some replacements at a salvage yard. I also purchased some parts from the same dealer I had originally bought the bike from.
Now, after just under two years in the restoration process and a project that required sourcing parts from all corners of the earth, the bike is now back in service and enjoying its Australian home.
Part two – Bespoke Motorcycles' story
I was acquainted with Dean for many years when one day in 2018 he rang to see if I knew where he might find the bike of his youth, a 1982 Suzuki GS650L. This kicked off the story of the bike’s journey from the USA to Australia, and from used and neglected to restored and renewed.
I was struck by Dean’s enthusiasm from the beginning, although I cautioned him that a total restoration is a lengthy process. Dean turned out to be the perfect client. He was very keen to stay involved in the project - cleaning components and sourcing parts, and proved highly resourceful in finding obscure things, sometimes in very obscure places on the opposite side of the globe!
Unfortunately, the motorcycle arrived with many of its components either heavily corroded, broken or just missing altogether. The restoration process started by dismantling the motorcycle to component pieces, sandblasting and powder-coating the frame and associated parts, then reconditioning (or replacing) each component as their turn came.
Dean was able to source multiple new parts, however others such as rims, forks, final drive, etc. just had to be dismantled, cleaned, painted and/or polished and rebuilt to bring them back to new condition.
Dean had originally wanted to buy the black & silver bike, however at the time the Suzuki dealer had sold out; but it’s never too late and, although this one arrived from the USA in blue, Dean was able to source a brand-new side cover in his preferred colour scheme which enabled us to match the original colours and produce his dream bike of 40 years ago!
I am sure you will agree that the end result is an outstanding motorcycle which will provide many years of enjoyment and bring back many great memories of growing up in the USA!
Bespoke Motorcycles is a specialist motorcycle repair facility, based on the Gold Coast, which was born of a passion for motorcycling and a desire to bring back the experience of patient, careful workmanship.