Carlos Ruiz's 1981 Suzuki GS450L
Carlos Ruiz's 1981 Suzuki GS450L
If Carlos Ruiz’s brother ever asks you to dog sit for him, definitely take the gig; he pays in motorcycles. That’s how this 41-year-old Chicagoan wound up with a 1981 Suzuki GS450L that he’s nicknamed "Kyojin", which is Japanese for "giant" or "big man".
Of course, the ‘Zook didn’t look much like a kyojin when he got it in the summer of 2016. It ran well but it was a “total cruiser.”
Ruiz, a customer care associate for Quality Assurance purchased his first motorcycle in 2007, a 1974 Honda CB200 in a suburb of Chicago, a bike he still owns. He has been a fan of cafe racers since buying that Honda but never got around to buying a bigger bike.
“With the explosion in popularity of cafe racers and retro bikes,” Ruiz said, “it meant that any Joe Schmo felt that they could sell their dad’s 70s bike for more than the Blue Book value (I'm looking at you Craigslist dude who was attempting to sell a Honda CB550 for $1500! And, yes, it was not running and had rust). So now, being a bit older, making more money and not really having any big responsibilities (no wife, no kids, no mortgage) I felt the time was now to get my cafe racer.”
His goal was to have the bike ready for The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride in Chicago and when he met a mechanic through a mutual friend, the two put together a plan.
“I'm proud to say that my bike is 100% garage built and I did twist some bolts and put together some parts, so I'd like to think that I still had a small part in making my Suzuki happen.”
After five weeks of nights and weekends, Ruiz bolted on the license plate the morning of the DGR. Fabricated parts include the rear master cylinder tabs on the frame and the electronics box underneath the seat. The fenders are original but cut down. “I tried to keep as many of the original parts that came on the bike. I'm especially proud we were able to keep the helmet holder and rear passenger foot pegs without it taking away from the look of the bike.”
The tank is from a Suzuki GS450S. They moved it forward, relocating the holders and grommets and leveled the tank to make a more linear feel with the brat seat. They used a wire wheel to strip the tank clean of any paint, then clear coated it. “The tank has some small dings and imperfections but after the clear coat, it gave it a great patina.”
The rear wheel was originally 16 inches and they switched to an 18 inch instead, which meant a bigger swing arm. The new swing arm came from a 1981 GS550, so the frame had to be modified to fit it. The seat color is oxblood, purchased via eBay, as was the yellow headlight
“I also added a little yellow to the tires by coloring in the "DUNLOP" to make it pop a bit. It is a beauty and gets plenty of double looks and questions when I ride or when I'm stopped at a red light.”
The color scheme is based on Colossus, a character from X-Men. “But I couldn't name my bike Colossus because, well, it sounded cheesy. Colossus the comic book character is insanely strong, huge and indestructible. My bike, being a 450cc, is not. A buddy of mine gave me the idea of naming it something Japanese. If you translate Colossus into Japanese it's "Kyojin" which means "giant" or "big man". Nevertheless, I think Kyojin sounds cool and went with it.
- Black bates LED tail light
- Black titanium exhaust wrap
- K&N style red air filter pods
- 7" black headlight bucket
- Chrome 2.5 speedo w/black face
- Chrome 2.5 tach w/black face
- Vintage style fork gaiters
- Anti gravity battery
- Rear shocks