Michigan-based Shoemaker Vintage creates beautifully finished ‘real world’ road machines—functional as well as good looking, like this 1971 Suzuki T500 Titan.
Proprietor Ralph Spencer has been a gearhead from an early age. He’s spent his life designing and fabricating for the military defense industry, specializing in tracked combat vehicles. And the same attention to detail shines through in his motorcycles.
“I’ve always loved the Suzuki T500 Titan,” says Ralph. “It makes a great looking and riding café racer. Being a two-stroke, you get all the character that a stroker has—the pop-ring of the exhaust, and the aroma of two-stroke oil. The T500 has classic lines, from the shape of the gas tank to the finned front brake drum and the reverse slash exhaust ends.”
What prompted him to do this build? “I got rear-ended sitting at a traffic signal,” he says, “bending my 40-year-old perfect chrome rear fender. So I bobbed the rear fender and ended up creating a café machine.”
There’s a bit more to this build than a new rear fender with an LED taillight, though. There’s now a Suzuki GT750 four-leading shoe brake up front, and Ralph’s given the engine even more punch via a set of Titan Performance polished stainless expansion chambers.
“I left the porting stock, since the T500’s torquey engine lends itself well to street riding,” says Ralph. “ The polished stainless expansion chambers sound great and wake up the engine just enough to keeps things exciting.”
Ralph also fitted his own custom rearsets, a wide seat from Omar’s, and Tommaselli adjustable clubman bars. The rider also gets extra protection from a National Cycle ‘Flyscreen’ shield. The paint—and no prizes for guessing the influence—was applied by Jim Gilbert.
Ralph’s T500 has won several awards, including ‘Best Japanese Machine’ at Mods vs. Rockers 2012.
It’s a winner in our book too. What about you?