“It all started a year ago with a Bet.” Ah, that legendary precursor to many a high story surfaces once again. Nothing quite prompts a burst of pull your finger out motivation than the pressure of a nay saying peer. For Dan Naylor, an IT man from Surrey, the wager was born as he was helping a friend with the cutting and welding of a custom tank for his Streetfighter project. Dan casually quipped that his mates bike would take years to complete and that he could buy and finish one of his own for a quarter of the price before it ever saw completion. The hook was baited and the fish bit, Dan had himself a mission. Two days post the stake was set, for the dizzying sum of 150 British pounds, Dan purchased the base of the bet, “A pig ugly ’81 Suzuki GN400 which had been stuck in a shed for 12 years”.
Dan approached the build with a little heritage in modification, “My custom fever started very young with bmx’s, at 19 I brought a 56′ VW Beetle that I built and dragged raced and lately with a 68′ Porsche.” But it hasn’t all been about cars, Dan has long had his own slow burning two wheeled project, which no doubt was further delayed by the little Suzuki’s arrival, “I have been collecting parts for a 500 Triumph pre unit bobber for what seems like for ever.” We will be intrigued to see that one when it eventually surfaces Dan, but back to the Suzuki.
Dan started stripping the bike and cutting away the parts that did not meet his approval. “I’ve always liked the tracker/brat style clean and simple look.” The stance was the first element to get right, he internally lowered the forks and dropped them through the yokes, he fabricated the rear seat hoop and relocated the the top and bottom rear shock mounts. Still not quite content, despite the bet enforced time pressure, he decided to take an inch off the rear end.
For the seat and rear mudguard Dan looked to his long standing non motor powered hobby of skating, “I haven’t quite grown up yet. I can still be found riding my BMX in the woods and trying kickflips in the garden.” Two old decks were re-imagined over and under the frame loop, perfectly fitting its kick, and fulfil the job perfectly. It is not the first time that the cross over between the skate and bike scenes has manifested itself in the Shed, BMX pedal kickers are a common and useful mod and this nx650 and xs650 have both gone for an unusua fly screen approach, but Dan’s seat is my favourite board adaptation to date. BMX stunt pegs replace the standard foot pegs and that appears to be a wrap of deck grip tape around the upper fork shrouds.
The tank proved one of the biggest build challenges, Dan ended up buying 3 before settling on the best one for the job. A BSA Bantam unit carried the day but required modifications along with the frame to make it sit just right. One of Dan’s goals was to hide as many wires and cables as possible by routing them through the frame, the bike now runs on the generator and has most of its switch gear hidden away. The front brake caliper is off a BMW F650 with a KX125 master cylinder up top and the exhaust is a tweaked, cut back, wrapped version of the original.
“It took me 6 months and was a budget build. On the road its the closest thing to a BMX light and nimble. On sunny days I even commute on it. I finished the bike 3 days before the BSMC III show and was luckly enough to get a last minute entry”.
The bike was one of the first to be seen by punters as they entered the show positioned in reception by the coat check and really got people talking and their creative ideas flowing. It is great to finally hear the little machines story and to have it here on the digital Shed. Now will that pre unit Bobber be ready for the next show Dan? Would a wager help expedite its completion? Speaking of wagers, Dan departs with a cheeky post script.
“P.S. My mate still hasn’t finished his build!”.