Suzuki Savage Street Tracker

October 2014 - May 2016

When you like never goes away. The Cafe Racer TV show didn't help either. For the last year I was looking at stuff, project bikes but didn't make the step yet to buy one and start. All the bikes I used to own were dirt cheap now...also the really fast ones, but I quit riding them just because of that. I needed something that was fun and not too fast. Then I started looking at a Savage again.... I remembered how fun it was to ride, but also the poor handling, but that's something I can fix.

Early October I found one local and cheap which was enough reason to pick it up. It wasn't pretty but it was a running and driving bike which is a great start, I only needed the frame and motor anyways. In my head the plans already formed, I started taking it apart and gathering parts. My plan was to use as much Suzuki parts as possible and keep it low budget. (since I am also building a car) Just for the record: the quality of my pictures won't allways be up to par, I know....I use my phone and sometimes there isn't much light or they are out of's just to document my build and I always have it with me.

It's a '86 model with the 4 speed gearbox (I had the '91 before so at first I thought I was missing a gear). After searching a lot and seeing pictures I think the bike in my head would classify best as a Street Tracker. I do not care too much how it's called, I just build it the way I see it and I like it.

Just days after I got the bike I found the front end I was looking for: Suzuki GSX600F (known as Katana in the US). The seller also had the rear wheel and brakes which I didn't know at first so I was lucky to get the complete set.

The front end just slipped in so that was easy, the rear wheel took some mix and matching but with the rear sprocket mounted backwards it lined up perfectly.

Even though it already started to look cool it was not the look I was going for. I bought longer shocks to get some ride height and stance I was looking for. The rear drum brake is held in place by a metal strip inside the swingarm (don't know how it's called) which interfered with the brake disk so I cut it off. I don't have power in the garage so I had to do it the old fashioned hand with a hacksaw.

I had been looking at gas tanks and after hours and hours googling on Suzuki tank I decided I wanted a GT550 tank. I really like the shape, the raised strip on top, the chrome gas cap and the raised letters (emblem) on the sides. It wasn't cheap but I found one.

When aligning the rear wheel it needed some bushings swapped and to be able to mount the brake caliper I ground down the GSX600F mounting bracket. The wheel aligns now and the tire just clears the swingarm...maybe I still need to modify it or go down 1 tyre size. Still need to make a mounting point for the rod from the brake caliper to the swingarm.

I bought a tracker seat and loosely fitted it on the bike...all good!

I bought another front end since the later models have adjustable forks which I liked. I ground down the casting lines on the clipons and the top yoke and prepared them for polishing. Also found the headlight I was looking for....again after searching for hours on google and ebay.

I cut the rear fender so I can use it as an inner fender/mud guard.

Found GSX-R gauges and footrests/controls. I only used the speedometer, hard to connect a 4 cylinder rpm gauge to a Savage but the speedometer will be connected to the front wheel so that's an easy solution. (and it will indicate correct)

This Vampire muffler will save lots of weight, be less restrictive and match the sound to the looks.

I just had to test it, slipped it on the exhaust header pipe loosely and started.

I had to make mounts for the new gas tank, after some measuring drilled a hole in the frame, slid through some full thread and secured it with lock nuts and voila...done. Sometimes it just doesn't have to be complicated.

The GT550 tank originally rests on a rubber block in the rear so I had to create a mount. I used 1mm sheet metal and a piece of rubber tile and fabbed myself a mount. Now the tank bottom is parallel to the cilinder ribs which looks right in my eyes.

Now the tank was in it's final location I could start making a subframe for the tracker seat. I got some square tubing and just started. I used the threaded bushings in the frame (for mounting the rear fender) since they were there already.

I started disassembly on the new set of forks so I could take of the paint with paint stripper and prepare them for polishing.

I cut up the gauge bracket and welded it back together to fit closely to the top yoke and so that I can also use the warning lights. My goal was to have the headlight as close to the forks as possible.

I made a braket to mount the headlight to the T-piece.

Now it was time to polish the lower forks and rebuild the forks with new seals and dust caps.

I cut up the front fender to a shape that I think will look good, still need to finish it but it's close.

Finished the gauge bracket, polished the top yoke and clipons and assembled the front end.

Next was making the tubes into a real subframe. The welds still need to be finished, I am not a good welder but slowly getting better at it. I am confident it will be strong enough when I'm finished with it.

I made an Autocad drawing of the bridge between the forks, originally this is a 2mm aluminum plate which holds the fender. Mine will be laser cut out of 10mm thick aluminum and probably polished.

I made the seat base out of thin (3mm) plywood which is very flexible. By glueing 3 layers together with the grain in the middle layer rotated 90 degrees a strong base is made which will hold it's shape once the glue has dried. I used Teenuts so the seat can be mounted with bolts from the underside. The bolts will be clamping everything together on the subframe using small metal plates.

Next was creating the upper mounting point for the footrests. I got some thick wall tubing, threaded them with M10 threads and made them fit the frame. I only had to enlarge the hole in the frame from 8 to 10mm

Last thing I did was weld in some bushing in the subframe.

I started with a wooden template (MDF) because it's easy to work with...just saw into shape, drill it and draw on it. I mounted the footrests on the wooden bracket and used a pencil to trace the shapes. Now it was easy to take measurements, I did my thing in Autocad and sent the file to the lasercutter to have the pieces cut out of 8mm steel.

I bought a small "cheese grater" to finish shaping the front fender. When I cut of the big pieces I did so with the jigsaw machine but it melted the pieces back together...guess I was going to fast or the blade was too fine. Just need to sand the edges smooth now and round them off a bit.

Got my parts from the laser cutter today. I mounted the fender to check fitment and to see how it looks. The fork brace now just needs to be polished.

I tapped threads in the brackets and tack welded them together. Next is fitting them on the bike and mark the exact location for the lower brackets.

Saddle and tank mounts are done! First I made a small bracket out of spring steel. I marked where the bolts had to go, welded a piece of metal to the subframe...drilled and tapped it for M6 bolts and it's done and holds the tank firm in place. I glued a piece of yoga mat (dense foam) to the wooden seat base. To create round edges I taped the foam over the edge of the base. After this I glued on a thin layer of soft foam with a fabric on top which I still had leftover from doing my door panels for the Nova. I then covered it with black vinyl, also had enough left of that. I stretched it over the seat and stapled it to the base.

I made a steering limiter/stop, drilled a hole in the existing tab and bolted the new one to it.

Still need to trim it a bit, but I'll do that later. I swapped the mock-up forks for the real one which has everything on it....also the stainless braided brake lines I found for a steal locally....they were new in the original packing but just 1/3 of the normal price....SCORE!! Cool To mount them I had to make room for the distribution block so had to modify the headlight later when I clean it up/paint it.

I tack welded the brackets for the footrests together for fitment...I'll have my friend finish weld them...I'm not good enough of a welder to do this. Took the bike apart today so I could bring it to my friend for welding. My tack welds didn't hold up... I did get some penetration but my welder isn't powerfull enough for the thicker material.... The frame just fits in my car, I left the motor in so I can build it up again easy to make the exhaust. Also we will weld a mounting point for the rear brake caliper reaction bar. The pics show the brackets bolted in place prior to welding.

Best masking tip ever, only spent 1 euro and it works great. Just deflate the tire a bit and slide the playing card between the tire and wheel.....and now we have color!

I modified the rear sprocket to fit on the GSX600F carrier, the Savage is 6 bolts and the 600F is 4..... the sprocket inside diameter is the same and even the bolt circle is equal....this means 2 bolt holes lined up and I needed 2 drill 2 new ones. I mounted the sprocket with 2 bolts and used the carrier as a drill guide....easy job. The 600F bolts were too short so I used M10 allen head bolts, high grade fine thread which I cut to correct length with the angle grinder and a cut-off wheel. I used the sand disc to grind 1 flat side to the bolt head so it keeps from turning when fastening the nut....just like the original bolts.

Sanded the front fender and gave it 2 light coats of white primer. Since I will be painting the bike white it already gave me a feel of how it will eventually look....and I like it.

My friend did some welding for me....he is an excellent welder, he used his TIG machine for this and explained me how it works...sounds easy...but I know better I mounted the bracket and footrests ont the frame and stood on the footpegs with my entire weight...felt solid! I made some pics of the welds....maybe someday I will be able to do that....just maybe.

I did replace the wheel bearings....the previous owner had probably put new bearings in...but WITHOUT the bushing! So I ordered that with the bearings. Just a reminder to check the condition when you buy second hand never know who or how they worked on it.

I also shortened the shifter rod... had to check twice I cut it at the right side since I don't have left thread cutting tools. I just cut the rod to length with the angle grinder, used the grinding wheel to bring the diameter down and then cut new threads....another job done.

I modified the subframe and made a mount for the tail light and license plate....just need to aim the light down a bit, but that's details.

Well.... I started making the exhaust....cut up 1 Savage header to make the connecting pieces from header to muffler. Since I don't have power in the garage I measured a bit on the bike, went home and cut it and tacked it you can see I was "a bit" off the 1st time.

But this gave me a good idea of how I had to change it to make it look and fit right. 2nd time came out a whole lot better I think. Now I need to finish weld it and I will then have another big job done. The muffler is attached to a flange with 3 bolts, I need to drill 3 new holes so it will mount with the right side it is about 60degrees off. I als got another brake master for the rear since the one from the 600F doesn't fit a bit on the GSXR rearset.

The 600f throttle cable worked (the Savage one didn't) with the 600f throttle. The clutch cable is connected too so getting closer. It took some measuring/staring at wiring diagrams and then cutting/splicing and connecting. I tried to switch the connectors to the Savage connector blocks as much as possible, right side was easy only left side took some more work. I also needed to install a special indicator relais to get it to work again, I guess it had to do with the lower load (LED indicators) Everything is working now for the electrics, just need to connect the tail light and install the gauge harness that I lengthened.

I drilled the exhaust flange so the muffler is mounted right.

I also modified the wiring, used the Savage connectors as much as possible with the 600F switches but also had to do some soldering and modifications. I now have full functioning wiring so another step further. Pic below is of lengthening the indicator lights.

I also got the new license plate and I had the new rear tire mounted.

The clutch cable hooked up to the 600F clutch lever no problem, I had a 600F throttle cable which I hooked up to the carb so the controls are installed and working now.

I wasn't happy with the LED tail light...(I have LED lights in my Camaro too and they are great) Okay it was cheap but it's barely visible in daylight and I want the people behind me to see me brake! I wasn't really satisfied with the look either...the more I looked at it the less I liked it... So back to the drawing board it was. I tried the original tail light and the fit was amazingly good....! I like the fact that looking from the side there is no void anymore between the fender and the seat. Only downside was that it had no license plate lighting which is mandatory here. So I drilled some holes in the bottom and opened it up to make a slot for the (white) light to shine through. This is the result:

Made a small (temporary) bracket to support the muffler...once I am satisfied with the fit I will make a permanent one.

I got myself some indicator light for the rear and used the brackets which normally are for securing the seat. I enlarged the holes and mounted them.

I re-used the original side stand, ground off the foot rest....still need to clean it up a bit. I heated the side stand and bent it so it clears the gearbox linkage. (still need to bend back the end)

I made this video, a walk around vid with the motor running....pretty happy sofar

Modified the headlight bracket.

Just made my first test ride.... about 10 -12 miles and it's fun!! Very light and quick, handles great. Max speed I did was around 70mph for a very short time. It's nothing like an original Savage.....pretty loud but not too. Thanks to the upgraded brakes, changed geometry and different seating position there's so much ground clearance and the bike is very short. It's a 86 so 4 speed, okay on the highway but perfect on country roads/around town.

I did some more bending on the side stand and it sits perfect now at a bit of an angle. I did have to grind a piece off the end to make it a bit smaller since it interfered with my foot....made shifting a bit hard.

The motor definately needs a tune up.... set the valve clearance, oil filter and oil and a new plug...maybe even take the carb apart and clean it. It has a bit of a stumble when I accellerate hard. Here is the (bit crappy) video

This is how it looked when I sold it... I needed to use my time and money on the Nova...

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