- WE DO IT FOR THE GLORY -
(written September 15, 2010)
The Suzuki SV-R is a frankenbike built by Velocity Moto. To the amateur enthusiast’s eye, the bike doesn’t seem to be overly different from any production-line Japanese sportbike. But to anyone intimately familiar with the SV, this bike is obviously something exceptional. The alterations made here were executed with such care and attention to detail that it will ultimately take more than a few examinations to see all of the deceptively subtle, yet ironically significant, changes that make this machine unique.
This project began sometime in 2007 when Ross Kruse came across a near-destroyed 2004 SV650 with the forks broken off at the triple tree. The bike essentially arrived on a pallet. Velocity had already successfully fitted a 2004 GSX-R1000 with a 2005 GSX-R1000 swingarm that allowed for the newer M4 exhaust to be retrofitted onto it. “Black #1” had a loud and ridiculous sound all its own. But Ross wanted to go a step further with the SV by replacing both the front and rear components with 2006 GSR-R750 parts. The stock Suzuki SV is somewhat of a natural streetfighter from the factory, but frankly, it lacks toughness. Ross envisioned the gnarliest and meanest SV he could and that is exactly what Velocity managed to do…
Ross convinced his cousin Don to get onboard and fund the project. His hope was to figure out all the details on this “prototype” so more could be built without all the guess work. Unfortunately, Velocity Moto closed the bay doors for the last time in November 2008. But the machine was still destined to be completed. It took three years to execute due to the required one-off machining, cutting and re-welding, parts matching, plan changes, and my schedule. This project also required nonstop part fitment testing to get everything just right - put on, stare at, pull off, adjust, rethink, and do it again until it was factory-perfect.
It was a long time ago, but there was no recollection of the forks being that difficult of a problem. The swingarm was the most daunting obstacle of the entire build. This is where I started to really question the probability of success, but Ross assuredly prodded me on. The most obvious hurdle here was that the GSX-R only has the single shock running through the swingarm, whereas the SV makes room for the shock alongside the rear cylinder’s exhaust header. So, once the proper spacing within the frame was calculated and the SV’s main pivot shaft was sleeved to match the inner diameter of the GSX-R swingarm bearings, we were able to determine how much larger of a hole was needed. Following a solid afternoon of careful cutting and grinding to ensure retention of strength, the much roomier GSX-R swingarm was sent out to be box-welded back in.
With the swingarm mounted to the rest of the bike and everything suspended at factory specs, it was time to figure out how to mount the offset shock of the SV to the center-designed swingarm of the GSX-R. I drafted up a bracket that the shock linkage could mount to and sent the specs out to a local machinist. The swingarm was again sent out to have the one-off bracket welded on then headed to powdercoating along with the frame and other items. In the meantime, replacement parts were being ordered, body work was being prepped for paint, a slew of Vortex bits were delivered, and brainstorming about how to overcome the upcoming challenges continued. The frame components returned in satin black and were assembled so that the exact measurements for the linkage could be determined. A Vortex linkage for a GSX-R was then sent out for shortening and width reduction at the local machinist to get proper stance.
At last, there was a rolling chassis and it was finally time to get the engine into this brute. It had taken me about a year of on and off attention to get it all to this point while continuing to perform the regular shop work. Also, there were some “dead ends” that had to be addressed and circumvented to make everything look good while still working correctly - mediocrity is never an option. It wasn’t long after the engine install that Ross and I opted to close Velocity Moto and the SV made its way to me home's garage. The wiring harness was next to be re-installed and the titanium M4 exhaust went on after some modifying. Side covers were painted and a new list of required parts was forwarded to Ross.
Progress slowed to nearly a halt as I went back to school while always continuing to work outside of the motorcycle realm. The classic-schemed body work was delivered and it became obvious this was going to be something very special. By the end of summer 2008, the challenge of sprocket alignment had gone to the forefront of the build. Although it was obvious early into the project, there was never a planned solution and it was time to find one. The GSX-R rear wheel is wider than that of the SV, so the front sprocket of the SV sits too shallow inside the new swingarm. After considering pulling the motor and installing a custom drive shaft or machining some sort of spacer, we opted for a local shop that specializes in offset sprockets. Once I determined the dimensions, two were ordered so there would be a replacement when the first wears down. As the sprockets were being made, there was still a fear of the chain grinding the clutch linkage and frame. Subsequently, the frame needed minor grinding to allow installation of the new sprocket, but once in, everything had enough room …albeit just enough. Tight tolerances always look cooler and more deliberate, anyways.
Due to school, work on the project bike came to a slow crawl during the ealier months of 2010. But following recovery from an unfortunate dirt bike accident in May 2010, I got back in the garage with renewed vigor. The latest challenge of merging the GSX-R ignition to the SV wire harness was one of the more frustrating aspects. The GSX-R uses a five-wire system but the SV uses a four-wire system. This caused varied combinations of wires and the tail light was not accepting any of the GSX-R’s ignition formulas. The original, gaudy gauge cluster of the SV had been dumped on day one for a sleeker aftermarket item. Luckily, an unused lead from the Suzuki gauge was rerouted through the ignition to make the reluctant tail light functional again. Once the new gauge and headlight assembly were installed, the wiring harness was shortened approximately twelve inches so it tucked neatly out of sight - looking factory is all in the details. The speedo/odo now needed to receive information from an aftermarket sensor with an obtrusive and atrociously ugly bracket. This was foregone by drilling through the left fork’s caliper bracket for a very sleek GP look.
Although never considered in the original plan, the GSX-R’s steering damper was successfully integrated into the SV’s frame. The front end’s wiring and brake lines went through extensive trial and error to find efficient routing without binding or pinching. Controls were mounted on the new bars after the unused signal and hazard switches were eliminated/shaved for a cleaner and logical appearance. It was about this time that the motor was filled with fluids and the bike was ready to start for the first time in almost four years. After a couple drops of oil in the cylinders and a few turns of the key to prime the injectors, the bike started right up, burned all the years of dust out of the nooks and crannies, and idled smoothly.
CrankyGypsy (established 2001)