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So I've been eyeing building a cafe racer for a long while but haven't ever had the means to do so. Until now. That being said, even after reading all of the online posts and guides and DIY tips and tricks, I'm not quite sure where to start. Personally not much of a mechanic (little to no experience besides basic car maintenance), but I have several family members willing to help me out. I will go through my thought process and what I have to now, and if anyone has any wisdom or advice they want to share, please feel free.

First things first:
1983 Suzuki GS850
This is the bike I am looking at getting.
suzuki gs.jpg

Not much to look at, but hopefully that will change. The guy I'm buying from says he put in a new ignition switch, air filters, and motor & gear oil, but the carbs need to be adjusted. Good news is that one of those family members I mentioned earlier can do carbs pretty easily. All the lights work, which hopefully means no electrical problems. My thought is that if I can get it running, then cleanup and cosmetics can come later.
What are some common problems

As for cosmetics, I am looking to build a classic looking cafe racer with the brat seat and the minimalist look.
Where can I look for parts and what parts really give the bike the "cafe racer" look?
I know you've got the clip on handlebars and the brat seat, but what else is essential for the look? Should I invest in a new tank, headlights, electronics cluster? Really just looking for guidance from someone that knows more than I do.

Hopefully, as I start the process I can document everything and upload for other newbies like me.
 

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The GS850 isn't a bad bike to learn to ride and maintain... but it's going to be an exercise in futility to meaningfully improve on its performance.

Have you taken the basic riders course yet?
 

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Single cylinder motorcycles have a fraction of the parts and problems, way better bike to learn to wrench and ride. Heavy old four cylinder bikes with old brakes and old suspension not so good.
 

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as above, its a cruiser, a shaft drive and 4 of most things to go wrong. probably only 2 of the ignition stuff.

you can make it into anything, and you can do it to that turd just to prove us wrong. like everyone else tries to. it'll still be a turd.
 

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So I don't race the bike; pyscho or cyclocrossfool or whatever you call yourself, I just love the look of old classic racing bikes. you have to admit it looks good though and that's all i'm really after. I'm actually a hospital administrator with a home, real job, boat, kids, wife; just a regular guy. Honestly, the best advise I can give anyone wanting to join this forum is leave this group/forum and join one where people will actually recognize and understand that all you really want is a cool looking bike. Here, you will be insulted, belittled, disrespected and for what? and by whom? a bunch of individuals that probably have nothing else going on in their lives other than these ridiculous motorcycles intended solely for the purpose fun and nothing more. I guess guys like you were born with all this motorcycle knowledge, huh? you just woke up and there it was, really? you didn't utilize forums or websites and seek advise from anyone, correct? what a complete waste of internet space, this site! you guys can keep it, I know it's all you have..
 

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So I don't race the bike; pyscho or cyclocrossfool or whatever you call yourself, I just love the look of old classic racing bikes. you have to admit it looks good though and that's all i'm really after. I'm actually a hospital administrator with a home, real job, boat, kids, wife; just a regular guy. Honestly, the best advise I can give anyone wanting to join this forum is leave this group/forum and join one where people will actually recognize and understand that all you really want is a cool looking bike. Here, you will be insulted, belittled, disrespected and for what? and by whom? a bunch of individuals that probably have nothing else going on in their lives other than these ridiculous motorcycles intended solely for the purpose fun and nothing more. I guess guys like you were born with all this motorcycle knowledge, huh? you just woke up and there it was, really? you didn't utilize forums or websites and seek advise from anyone, correct? what a complete waste of internet space, this site! you guys can keep it, I know it's all you have..
Motorcycles are not "for fun and nothing more." They are for transportation and they are dangerous. You can act like it is just for fun, but would you modify an airplane "just for looks?" I doubt it. No offense to you and those "that only want a cool looking bike" but I would much rather take advice from someone with "nothing else going on in their lives than these ridiculous motorcycles." You can act like you are looking out for the delicate new guy, but that guy posted once in March and had happily moved on before you decided to try and stir things up last week.
 

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Stir things up? my one and only response was "same bike, have fun"! that's it! its you guys that jump in with your insults and bullshit! No one knows better than me how dangerous they are as I was clipped by some fuckin' moron texting as he passed me breaking my thumb, wrist, shoulder and a number of bruises and scrapes! and ive been riding since I was a teen. and trust me, acting like I'm looking out for the newbie is not an act. gross behavior is a fact on this site.
 

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I Love old classic racing bikes :cool:
but veteran riders like many here have a very different opinion on what qualifies as old, classic or a racing bike.

 

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Stir things up? my one and only response was "same bike, have fun"! that's it! its you guys that jump in with your insults and bullshit! No one knows better than me how dangerous they are as I was clipped by some fuckin' moron texting as he passed me breaking my thumb, wrist, shoulder and a number of bruises and scrapes! and ive been riding since I was a teen. and trust me, acting like I'm looking out for the newbie is not an act. gross behavior is a fact on this site.
Dude - you posted a pic of your show pony bike with a racing number. And you don't race. THAT is insulting to real racers.

As for insults and bullshit towards you? I didn't see any until you got all butthurt of your own volition.
 

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my post was in reference to the motorcycle in question, and turning that into what he has in his head. i can't imagine the gs850l has the same frame as the gs850g, but the g is much more the basis for what this guy is looking for. the l has a frame that dips down at the rear to the shock mounts instead of the straight top rail his mind is envisaging. allegedly the g and l share the 19/17 wheel combo, but again what the op is after in his mind is something with 18 at each end. and the forks are too long, and he'll shorten them badly (as if anyone does it well) and at the end of it he'll have a bike that has sucked up a heap of money simply because it wasn't a good starting point. and it will show - well, to anyone who knows what they're looking at. and he'll possibly come to realise that he's put a heap of work and money into a bad starting point, and that feeling sucks.

offset of course by the fact that all the good starting points are much more expensive and that initial purchase price is the big kicker.
 
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