Big single dual purpose machines reimagined as retro scramblers and trackers are something of a favourite at the Bikeshed. The Honda Dominator engine, in it’s many different guises, accounts for a large corner of our vast virtual garage. However one of the Honda’s closest rivals, the flatulently monikered Suzuki Freewind, returns zero hits in the search bar. Hidden beneath swathes of plastic the fine ingredients of this underused donor have long cried out for a customisers attention and now Flavio from Brianza in Italy has finally given the Freewind it’s Bikeshed bow.
44 year old Flavio has set up a garage under the name Vence Prodigal Bikes. Vence is a nickname bestowed on him by a long time friend and supporter of this new adventure, the Prodigal part of the name refers to his poetic view of the machines he intends to create,
“Similarly to the “Prodigal Son who arose and came to his father”, these bikes come back to the Garage in order to be reborn and to do all they can for their new owner.”
Flavio specifically targets those misunderstood machines, like the Freewind, that left the factory to little acclaim and minimal commercial success and seeks to turn them into something he defines as “New Vintage”,
“These bikes will involve themselves in daily emotions made of dynamics and simplicity under a careful and timeless style.”
This machine, named Lady O, is Vence Prodigal’s first completed bike.
The Suzuki came to him as a mistreated learner school hack that had been abandoned for two years and was in much need of attention. The engine was completely overhauled along with the front forks which were dropped 15mm in the process. The wheels and swing arm are the original items that Flavio had “pickled” before being brushed and re-anodized. Any other parts that betrayed the bikes former life were replaced or refurbished.
The look Flavio was aiming for was “Scrambler-Flat Vintage” so all of the Freewind’s existing bodywork was junked. The short bulbous tank was a remarkable find at his local corner market, it originally graced a Moto Guzzi Lodola 175 and instantly adds a dollop of the vintage aesthetic Flavio was after. The tank is left bare with some strategic dark blue painted around the edges to enhance its shape.
Flavio was not willing to settle for a single tail option and has instead created two units to cater for differing moods. Both feature a thick seat, clad in a deep navy leather, the scrambler option ends in a blunt square with the tail light mounted low on the rear hugger whilst the cafe option features a sculpted aluminium cowl with a built in light. The exchange of units is achieved simply by removing four screws and a few minor alterations.
Flavio loves working in the “Noble material” of aluminium, amongst the parts he hand fabricated for the project are the side panels, the front light fairing and ignition key cover, the sprocket cover, the fender struts and the license plate holder. The aluminum fenders are aftermarket items.
Flavio is unsure exactly how much weight has been saved in the transformation but approximates a thirty kilo reduction. He reports a remarkable transformation in the engine characteristics, eager to rev with far livelier responses, but this could also be down to the engine work.
“I think overall, some more hp were sprung, but in my opinion, pure numbers don’t matter. I am more interested in the practical yield of every kind of riding (city, mixed fast, tight mixed in the mountains).”
As the build progressed Vence Prodigal have established strong relationships with good local suppliers and expert craftsmen which Flavio will continue to develop in his future projects. A Honda CB500 PC32 and a small Guzzi Florida V35 are next in the workshop, maintaining the unusual donor theme of Prodigal bikes. Find out more at the Vence Facebook page. Now who out there is going to create the second Freewind to grace the Bikeshed?