A childhood photo of the world’s only female Ducati Master Tech, Hannah Johnson, hanging out with biggol’ bikers.
Isaiah Pannier’s 1979 GS425e Cafe Racer
What you can do with some elbow grease and effort is truly amazing. Seeing high dollar builds with every detail planned and perfectly executed is definitely inspiring, each piece a work of art. But I think what I like more are garage built bikes, customized by the owner to their liking instead of a shop or designer. They both have their positives, but this is a great example of what I mean.
Isaiah’s cafe racer build began with a bike you don’t often find in the USA, a 1979 Suzuki GS425e.
Q. Can you summarize what all you’ve done since you got the bike?
A. I have had the bike since 2010. I have changed all of the gaskets from the head up, installed pod filters, rejetted and cleaned the carbs, new chain, replaced battery with battery eliminator, replaced throttle speedo cables, new rear tail lights. I pulled out the tach from the front cluster and am only running a speedo now. Rewired the whole bike from scratch, and used a skateboard to hold wires under seat. Repaired petcock, replaced the kick starter, repainted frame, wheels, forks, triple clamp… repaired the tank (right before the build some fucko decided kicking it over would be fun, I would smash their face with my skateboard if I knew who.) The tank had some major dents.
Q. So what’s the deal with the tail and seat pan?
A. I remade the stock seat out of 2 skateboards, chopped 12 inches off the back end and replaced rear fender with skateboard.
Q. Did you build the whole thing yourself?
A. I was able to do the whole build alone but I have had one other persons hands-on help- Todd Johnson for the rejetting. Soon it will be two people with Andrew Conelissen doing the 2-1exhaust.
Q. Is the build done? What left is there to do?
A. Still have to do the 2-1 exhaust and touch up some wiring issues and chopping the front fender. About 90% complete… I am mostly proud of the overall project even though I like perfection and it is far from that and compared to other bikes. I am stoked it turned out decent for my first build as well as some original ideas coming out of it. The biggest pain in the ass has been the wiring harness, after trying to get spark for months and them breaking the kick starter in the progress, the bike sat for four months and all I could do was look at it due to money. It really sucked looking at it but not being able to ride, but it was all good because it was winter anyway. Also a shitty thing is the way the paint came out (orange peel) haven’t painted in awhile and it shows, ran out of my industrial finishes paint so I had to spray can a few spots to cover up the primer. Should be done in the next few weeks because I have blown all my lights (wiring issues) and all new lights are in the mail.
Q. How much did the whole build end up costing?
A. About $1300 including the bike.
Let this be a lesson that it doesn’t take a million dollars and a miracle to make a bad ass bike you enjoy riding.
By the way, here’s the 1979 GS425e build thread/blog so you can see his processes. And here’s what the bike looked like before he worked his magic:
Photos by Alicia Mariah Elfving, copyright themotolady.com 2013.