This 1981 Suzuki GN400 is one of those increasingly rare custom motorcycles that was built for under $1,000—without actually looking like it was built for under $1,000. The donor bike was an old GN400 thumper that old friends Chris Errecart and Adam Bendig found on Craigslist; it wasn’t running, but it looked to be in salvageable condition. So they bought it for 200 clams and loaded it into the minivan.
Once the bike was back in the garage, the ten-week build process began. As with most customs, the first step was to strip the bike back to its bare essentials and toss anything that wasn’t needed. The frame was then detabbed and painted with Dupli-Color Bed Armor, a water-based, rubberized polyurethane coating designed to protect truck beds.
The engine was tweaked and the stock airbox was discarded in favour of a pod filter (which required the re-tuning of the carburetor). The front forks were internally lowered 3.5 inches and raised up the triple-tree to allow the addition of clip-on handlebars.
The seat unit was hand-made using sheet metal from Lowes, which was then padded with five layers of yoga mat and upholstered in a classic diamond pattern. The stock rear shocks were replaced with one-inch longer all-black units from MikesXS, and the stock instrument cluster was replaced with a 2.5-inch unit from Drag Specialties.
The tires were then added with a Firestone ANS 5.0-16 at the back and a Dunlop K70 4.5-18 up front. All of the electrics are now mounted to the underside of the seat pan, and the battery was replaced with a very small, sealed lead acid unit to keep the minimalist look.
It’s great to see sub-$1,000 custom bikes being built in enthusiasts’ garages—with the staggering number of cheap old motorcycles still available on Craigslist and eBay, low cost bikes are something I’d love to see catch on.
The finished GN400 is ridden almost daily by Adam and he has some road trips planned that will test the mettle of that yoga-mat saddle. He says that the bike is as reliable as gravity and he’s out on the B-roads whenever his understanding wife and three kids will allow.
All of the images here were taken by the remarkably talented Adam Bendig. He also shoots cars, motorcycle races, mountain bike races and just about everything else you can imagine. If you’d like to see more of his work, his website is worth a visit.
James McBride runs Silodrome, a website focussed on Gasoline Culture—covering cars, motorcycles, boats, gear, clothing, tools, films, gadgets and much more.