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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello!
I’m new to the forum and these bikes in general. Just picked up a ‘80 GS550E with 15k for $300. Looking to turn it into a cafe bike. I can do some mechanic work and have an idea of what I want to do but with little direction. Anyone who has started a build from an old worn bike have any guidance on where to start first? Plan to make it a project that’ll take some time. Any help is appreciated thank you!
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1979 XS750
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That is a Real slick bike, nice. I put some marvel mystery oil in the cylinders and let it sit while I rebuilt the carbs. New spark plugs and oil got mine to fire up. That’s where I started but it’s my first “build”
 

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That's a good looking bike. To make something era correct (and a hell of a lot of fun to ride) you might want to take a look at Wes Cooley's superbikes. If you were to do that and drop the "cafe" talk, think function not form, you might just attract 8ball to your post ,who is always armpit deep in Suzukis of this vintage and has a wealth of knowledge on how to make them better.
 

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That thing looks pretty clean. I like the advice of using the early superbikes as inspiration and not the classic cafe racers and certainly not the current "cafe racer" unrideable crap that you see on exif each day.

Post up some pictures of bikes you want to emulate. In the mean time I'd fous on getting it running before tearing stuff apart. Get it titled if it doesn't already have one. Then once you know you have a useable bike you can get more serious about mods.

quarter fairing, solo tail, smaller front fender, lower bars, good to go. Well, of course there will also be new brake lines, tires, rebuilding the suspension and a bunch of other things, etc...
 

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Here's a link to my '79 GS750E. It was a track bike that I made street legal. It's the easiest direction to go with what you've got.


Here's what I'd do if I were you:
-Full service according to the clymer manual/factory manual (Especially valve clearances)
-New braided steel brake lines
-New All Balls wheel bearings
-New tires ( I like Avon Roadriders, but there's a lot of good ones out there)
-New All Balls stem bearings
-Progressive front springs with heavier fork oil
-Fork brace
-Progressive or Hagon rear shocks
-Stock Carbs and airbox
-Muffled/baffled exhaust
-New throttle and clutch cables
-Dyna coils and ignition
-Superbike Bars
-New chain and sprockets

That will get you a bike that will run circles around a stock version... after that you could look at some spicier things like smoothbore carbs, box swingarm, cartridge emulators in the front forks etc.
 
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Everything CaTac said. Your bike looks to be in pretty decent shape with the exception of missing exhaust and carbs. Focus on function with any mods. Get the maintenance done and get it running and riding so you can figure out what it needs. CaTac mentioned valve adjustment. These things have stupid small lash clearance and the checking interval is every 3000 miles (basically every oil change). This needs to be done before you even try to tune or sync the carbs.

Personally, I’d forget the typical “cafe racer” look. IMHO, these things look stupid with a typical bum stop tail. The rear wheel ends up too far back and the big four cylinder engine makes it look unbalanced.

I will say this, absolutely FORGET about pod filters... even good ones! Starting in 1980 Your bike came with vacuum side CV carbs. I’m not one to say they can’t be tuned to work alright with pod filters, but “alright” won’t be good, and without a crap ton of experience, knowledge and probably some machining, the best you will end up with is a compromise. It may run good at WOT but stumbles on throttle transitions. Or you may get it to react well to throttle changes, but it falls flat on full throttle. Those CV carbs rely on the predictable still air in the air box to operate the slides. There’s a thread on here titled “A Pod Thread for Geeto” that is worth reading. It is more about the mechanical slide VM carbs on my bike than CV carbs, but all the issues apply PLUS about 20 more when it comes to pods and CVs.

You can read through my “winter build” that has turned into a 9 year evolution and see how I worked through many of the pitfalls that started with the previous owner and some pitfalls of my own making.


Good luck and have fun.
 

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Here's a link to my '79 GS750E. It was a track bike that I made street legal. It's the easiest direction to go with what you've got.


Here's what I'd do if I were you:
-Full service according to the clymer manual/factory manual (Especially valve clearances)
-New braided steel brake lines
-New All Balls wheel bearings
-New tires ( I like Avon Roadriders, but there's a lot of good ones out there)
-New All Balls stem bearings
-Progressive front springs with heavier fork oil
-Fork brace
-Progressive or Hagon rear shocks
-Stock Carbs and airbox
-Muffled/baffled exhaust
-New throttle and clutch cables
-Dyna coils and ignition
-Superbike Bars
-New chain and sprockets

That will get you a bike that will run circles around a stock version... after that you could look at some spicier things like smoothbore carbs, box swingarm, cartridge emulators in the front forks etc.
Perfect advice I'd say. up till the smoothbore investment, Its a solid UJM.
 

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These earlier GSes look so much better than the 83 and later bikes that I used to race. To me the teardrop style tanks are the best looking on any brand. My 83 and later 550E and ES had one glaring deficiency, carburation! Because of the way the frame was designed they essentially had two carbs instead of 4. They were oval shaped and each contained two carbs in a single housing. More power is made on most motors by getting more fuel and air into the motor and more exhaust out. Never got much more out of the motor but they were fine handling bike that had very good brakes. I still have a bunch of parts and a couple parts bikes that I would be glad to part with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So I ended up taking the bike completely down. Having some things painted and some powder coated. Replacing wheel, swing arm, and steering stem bearings. New clutch plates, fork seals, throttle and clutch cables, shocks, rebuilding and cleaning the carb. Valve adjustments and new tires. One thing I’m unsure of how to do on this is upgrading the big ugly instrument cluster. I wanna get just 2 analogue gauges (speedo/tach) what’s the best route for decent ones and how would they work with my current wires?
 

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One thing I’m unsure of how to do on this is upgrading the big ugly instrument cluster. I wanna get just 2 analogue gauges (speedo/tach) what’s the best route for decent ones and how would they work with my current wires?
Did you ever read through my build thread I posted above? I tackled that issue a couple different ways....
 

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I used a cable driven tach from a 450 Suzuki for years. Was able to use the gauge mounting bracket from the same bike and place the tach in the middle. Just happened that the mounting hole spacing was the same between the tach and speedo as the mounting holes for each gauge. Bolted right onto my GS 550E.
 

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Chuck,
These are great motorbikes and this genome have a very lot of racing history. To this end you are able to choose from a plethora of styles as you develop one that will make the bike your own.

These motorbikes clothed as everything from naked club racers with aftermarket pipes and number plates. To as stated before; in AMA Superbike attire (Wes Cooley on board) with quarter fairings and FIM World Endurance built (Graeme Crosby up) with full fairings and large fuel tanks. Lets you have all kinds of choices.

The really good news is the fact that there are aftermarket companies that sell on all kinds of things to make the motorbike just what you want it to be.

We are building a pair of GS1100's to race in the U.S. as Classic Superbikes and to also race in the UK and IOM in their vintage classes (we've already done the Manx Classic and Phillips Island so it's not a pipe dream) next year when we'll be welcomed again. I've found all kinds of bits so decking them out is not really a problem. Spend some time on line and check companies like Airtech, Tyga, HPS.

My advice: If the motorbike runs well don't start off messing with the engine. Do everything you can afford to, first make it handle with good shocks (nothing cheap here you really get what you pay for) and then you might want to go with Honda Superhawk forks. These forks Should have a new set of triple clamps made this will let you have a far stronger front end. You can also go with the whole Superhawk front. Either way it will let you use Olhins (or other) cartridges in those forks and you can also affix far better brakes (with very little filing Honda 929 calipers fit and are lighter and have larger pistons) with lighter wheels. Honda F3 forks also work but will cost you more. Work on getting the thing as light as you can. We use a lot of Titanium on the race bikes and we also go with carbon fiber wheels these are the things that make for much quicker turning and far faster acceleration. I'll admit these are costly things but it often makes far more sense than spending the same amounts of rupees on the engine. Remember the engine work is just as costly but it is something where, the more you do gets you closer and closer to critical mass and then you'll be starting all over again.

Anyway take a look at the Crosby and Cooley bikes on line and most of all have fun.

Cheers
Rich
 
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