Bike of the Month December 2020

There are many reasons why you might single out a particular bike as a bike of the month but invariably those reasons always boil down to the same thing; the bike embodies, in some way, the values that make OSS what it is.

This month’s winner has been too many times the bride’s maid, and never the bride. It holds a special place in OSS folklore and special place in our hearts. It’s the bike that launched a hundred annoying banana stickers and a stroopwafel fueled track day race team/boy band. The infamous chart topping heart breakers that are team Banana.

So, what is it about this hurriedly put together and horribly abused little 750 slingshot that makes it so special? Well, it’s just that; for a hurriedly thrown together little track slag, it has equipped itself admirably around some of the UK and mainland Europe’s finest race tracks, it has been crashed twice repaired twice and really should have died a long time ago,  but it has always delivered the goods.

Knowing my good friend Rene, as I do, I sometimes think for a Dutchman, he would make a damn fine Scotsman ( apart form the fact he cant drink). What I mean by that is that Rene knows how not to spend money. We Scotsman recognise and amire a fellow tight arse when we see one. So the Banana was never going to be a “break the bank” build but then Rene’s builds never are. I used to think that Rene was the possibly the luckiest man I knew but I have come to recognise that he makes his own luck. He keeps things simple and that means for the most part, they work.

The thing I admire most about all of the bikes that Rene builds is that they are not built to look at. They will never win a beauty contest or a rosette. They don’t drip with high priced components. They are all built for a purpose. They are built to ride. Be it a journey, an odyssey, a pilgrimage or in the case of the banana a new sport.  Rene is a wanderer, he’s never happier than when he is travelling Europe and the UK, couch surfing his way round his many friends or sharing valuable time with his friends in a race paddock for a weekend.

This, for me, and for Rene, is a huge part of what OSS represents. Right from the beginning the rules were clear: you build a machine, you load it up and you take off on a journey to meet other people who have done the same. That’s what the Banana represents for me. It’s where the bike takes you and who you meet that makes a motorcycle the world’s single most amazing invention.

So, 2020 has been a real shit show. We’ve all missed out on so much but it won’t last forever. It will soon be time to get back on the road and back on the track. I wanted to finish the year looking back on a heart warmng high with one eye on a return to much better times round the corner. I don’t know if I’ll ever see the banana again, last I heard, she was looking a bit tired and sorry for herself, but if I don’t, the memory of it and the good times it represents for many of us, will live on.

Congratulations Reggie, the Banana is finally and rightfully our bike of the month December 2020

Members discuss this here

Bike of the Month November 2020

On OSS we make a point of having new people introduce themselves, preferably with many pics of (relevant) bikes, new and old. If you do it like this;

“If my gsxr were to be a human, it would rule the skatepark, scare children, snort all the drugs, start fights and go after the girls like its life depended on it. It does not care what anyone thinks and does precisely what it wants to do, be a tatty 1200 euro bike in a 90s tracksuits, with the results of my very concerning e-shopping addiction, badly bolted to its flanks”

you have my attention..

I met Cunnerz for the first time not even a year ago, I think. A Brit building a Slingshot pretty much round the corner from me and us not knowing eachother; downright weird. First time we (Jelly and myself) went to visit, we dropped off the purple people-eater ET Cunnerz bought off Jelly and promptly we went onto what could be called an “enthusiastic” run for Cunnerz to get to grips with the mighty 816cc of aircooled goodness we just unloaded on him.

We were told to “keep up” and got thrown the keys to his 400bhp v8 car. We had been there for all of 10 minutes, I’d never met the man before; this was gonna be fun… Back from the shakedown, we were brought up to speed about his soon to be finished slingshot; a bare frame sat on the floor of the shed, just back from the people that were supposed to just de-anodise it, and then had gone to blast the whole thing.

Now, I’ve met many people that had been very keen to get busy with a project and have their deadlines set with no wiggleroom; I personally always take this with a pinch of salt. In my few years, I’ve seen it all and probably bought more half-built projects than some of you will own bikes, because the builders involved lost interest when the enthusiasm wore off and time/money was needed elsewhere, leaving bikes to gather dust in corners, half built, waiting for someone like me to come and rescue them (on the cheap).

I’ve probably grown into the OSS-equivalent of a grumpy old man and honestly, I need to see it to believe it, so when Cunnerz told me he’d have it finished in a matter of months, ready for a trackday, that is exactly what I thought.

Passionate as he was about the 1100 in question,  we were given the rundown of how it came to be and where it was heading. Still a bare frame I was standing next to, stories of wheelies thought Italian towns, 2-up touring all across Europe, crashing it into the side of a mountain and still never missing a beat, It was like I was talking to myself. Owned since 2015 and done everything on one bike is a lot less like me though, because I just get a different one after blowing up/crashing whatever is in the shed at the time.

An unrelenting devotion to a bike so outdated it hurts, but still better than anything that left any factory before or after; there’s just nothing like it, and that’s why it was now in the state it was in; get it to the next level and make it everything better and faster than before, because it earned it.

Countless hours were spent to correct the damage done to the frame by the blasters, slowly but surely the desired finish started to shine through and before long, the engine was back in the frame. Suspension seen to by Dutch K-tech specialist Front Row Components, the front and rear ends followed in short order with a swingarm from a later ’95 (?) 1100.

Fancy PFM brakes with radial calipers up front get the chassis well into the 20th century but with Fiberman fairings to replicate the original silhouette, only those that know, will understand what they’d be looking at. Flatslides and the Yoshi 4-1 make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed in traffic though, even to the most oblivious of motorists.

Painted straight black, it was given to our own Quist to do some decals with the brief “something 90’s”  Knowing Quist and understanding his way of thinking, this could only ever become the loudest bike you’d ever seen, and I called it. When I saw the stickers, I knew I wasn’t wrong and Quist had truly outdone himself (again).

Finished in time ready for the Assen trackday, together with yet another international (inter-continental even) OSS member Kamikaze, the van was pointed in the general north-east direction to the “Cathedral of Speed” for the inaugural shakedown. I wasn’t there, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Cunnerz’ 1100 was easily the coolest bike there, with Kamikaze’s 750 in close second. There’s just something about these bikes, but I might be biased.

Cunnerz77, thank you for showing me that there still are people that put their money where their mouth is; “Imma build this” and then actually do it, in short time and to a standard I’ve all but seen in our little country. Took a Brit to do it, but still..  

I’ll be around shortly for a frikandel speciaal.

Congratulations Cunnerz77, your bike is this month’s Bike of the Month

Discuss here

Buildthread here

Bike of the Month October 2020

Up until very recently, I have to admit, I had never encountered a Cougar in the flesh. Not the rare sharp clawed big cat variety , not the even rarer Stiffller’s Mum variety and certainly not the rarest of them all Spondonesk small batch UK special motorcycle frame variety.

This Month’s Bike of the month winner Barry Armstong (AKA Cullinoc) has been a Suzuki nut for longer than most. He has countless high-quality OSS builds under his belt, built for himself and for others. In the last 2 years, I’ve watched him build 4 ground up quality olsdskoolsuzuki builds, all of which were worthy of BOTM and two of which were built and sold just to raise money for another very special ongoing build ( but that’s a different story for a different month) Barry also supports me as pit mechanic when I race so to say I trust his abilities and his eye for detail is an understatement.

Unusually, Barry has decided to keep the Cougar and run it as an everyday bike. He has a small stable of everyday bikes, all of which are Suzukis. He has no car license either so they are literally everyday bikes. Hardcore!

This month we are featuring Barry’s Bandit 12 powered Cougar. Barry bought this from another Suzuki nut and long time OSS member Pip Brodie. When he bought it it was powered by an EFE 1230 engine and an assortment of period early 90’s fittings. Barry’s original plan was to strip it back and refresh the EFE engine and upgrade everything else. When Rooster Racing were looking for an EFE engine for a race build last year Barry and Don did a deal for a fresh bandit engine and some frame mounts to house the oil cooled plant.

What has emerged is a very tidy, very usable looking Cougar framed Suzuki Special. Barry congratulations you are oldskoolsuzuki’s Bike of the month, October 2020. It’s your first time as BOTM Barry but I’m sure it won’t be your last.

Read about the build here. Members discuss this article here.

Bike of the Month August 2020

I regularly bore you with how OSS is something of a community and how we help each other out. I tell tales of how parts are sent across the globe just to get someone’s bike on the road, more often that not an exchange between people who never even met. It makes for a good story, but wouldn’t it be even better if I just show you what OSS can do?

Kev and I met in a field in Burton, 2014. A longterm member was having her birthdayparty and a whole bunch of OSS-ers were attending. I just got my 100€ 1100-G going and thought it be a laugh to just randomly turn up without telling anyone I was coming. Totally worth it..

I went to a party knowing full well what to expect and having met just about all the people there before, so it’s not really diving into the unknown; hardly an adventure. How different would it be if you choose to go to a random party you saw posted on FB, knowing near-0 people there, going to an OSS-do as a through-and-though Kawasaki fan but owning the most colourful B12 on the planet? Cue Kev.

He fitted right into our merry crowd of Suzuki-fanatics and it didn’t really take that long for us to make him see Suzukis really are better. He’s still building his Zed, but more on that some other time.

Me and Kev personally really hit it off. So much so that I attended his wedding not a few years later, along with a fair few people that were also present in Burton that weekend in 2014.

Over the years Kev had been playing with the thought of building a bike for his better half Jess and she suggested/asked for an EFE, because after he sold the B12-powered one he had (and crashed) a while earlier, the EFE shaped hole in their life was too much to bear. Mistakenly selling it, the deal was regretted for long and with parts few and far between, and prices for those parts on the up, the idea of building one stayed that; just an idea.

But, when you have OSS at your disposal, sailing the unforgiving seas of OldSkoolSuzuki-unobtanium becomes a ferryride across the Mersey river, a frame was acquired from PaulM to kickstart the build and it didn’t take long before other integral parts for the build were starting to turn up.

Me being me; I didn’t know what to get the couple for the wedding, so I took EFE-bits, happily received and put to good use a few months later when we chose to build a “bike” in a day over newyears. This is still start of 2019.

DaveCara supplied the enginemounting kit which was welded in place, we flung some engine in from a distance, bolted Kev’s old turboheaders on it for good measure and there was something there resembling the endgoal. I went home, 2019 got underway and Kev and Jess went on to do the project as anyone tackles a project, while keeping a normal life, entertaining a child and keeping everyone fed; slow and steady.

Taking no shortcuts, all was done properly; powdercoating, some pro modifications to the JMC swingarm borrowed of Dad Kearsley, some things even got 3D-printed (posh) and  wiring was done in the kitchen, as you do.

All pretty normal, and then Covid came. The whole world grinded to a abrupt halt, leaving many of us wondering what to do. No need to go to work and no option to go anywhere fun, Kev got the project on the rails properly and steaming to the finishline. Making good use of daytime tinkering, the bike went from “It’ll be done in a few months, honest” to, “It’ll be done in a few weeks, really”.

The world is still a bit strange with not being able to move around as we were used to, but if this whole historic episode brought one thing positive, it’s having yet another EFE back on the road. Time that was usually wasted on working for the man, was put to good use in the shed. With bits sent from all across the UK and beyond, this bike is a good show of force of what I mentioned all those times before and I’m proud to have played a small part in it.

Now, if all goes back to normal, I could actually go see it but until then, this will have to do.

Congratulations @Kid Kearsley and @MrsKid, you EFE is this month’s Bike of the Month

Buildthread here

Discuss here

Bike of the Month July 2020

When are projectbikes ever finished? ARE they even ever finished? Some bikes get moved on when the initial owner/builder reaches the goal that was set, or interest is lost, only for someone else to take up the challenge and see it through to the possible end. Some other bikes get broken for parts to be sold off and in turn help other projects get finished.

It’s a natural “circle of life” if you will, in the OSS fraternity and I think on average more bikes actually DON’T get finished than do, which is a good thing, because where else would we get all the bits from?

Owner/builder Katanasteve and myself have never met, we’ve never spoken, yet I’m quite aware of some of the projects that moved though his hands. Some finished, some others sold on or broken, as per my previous statement. One thing that did seem to be a recurring theme was the fact that Steve takes it quite a bit further than most.

Engineswaps, turbochargers, superchargers, dual front wheels; everything that you could dream up, Steve probably did it, and to a better standard than most of us could even dream it up to be.

For this build, something was done that we very rarely see on our end of the planet, yet in Japan you could say it’s almost normal; marrying 2 frames top and bottom, to have the runninggear from one bike, and the bodywork of the other. I’ve seen it done to Blandits, but this has taken it yet another step further; Slabside GSXR bottom frame, Katana spine (is that the right word?) and a GSXR1100 motor sandwiched in between.

Tank and sidepanels made out of aluminium by the very talented Kenty, another OSS heavyweight,  all was meticulously bolted (literally) together to get all the proportions right. No easy task as the original Katana must be a good 5” longer than the GSXR that is residing under this one.

A separate subframe was fabbed up to support the seat and have the added job of holding the top end of the twin shock conversion. The original Slabby arm was in turn also modified to work with the twin shocks and a brace was added for good measure.

Swiftly build up and MOT-ed, it has turned out as a bike that even those that do know what they’re looking at, need to give it a 2nd look; it’s done so right, that you could walk past it thinking it is “just a Katana”.

This build has been on my radar for quite some time and with it on the road and finished, I saw it fit for BOTM. I sit down to write this very piece and the topic is all the way up to the top again; Steve went ahead and started fitting spoked wheels and stacks..

They’re never finished. If we had to wait for a bike to be completely done to get picked as BOTM, we’d have a VERY hard time choosing, simply because few ever really are.

Congratulations Katanasteve, your bike is this month’s Bike of the Month.

Discuss here

Buildthread here  

Bike of the Month March 2020

As February has come and gone, you may have noticed a apparent lack of BOTM that month. They made that month too short; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It didn’t help that the weather was utterly miserable and riding bikes in the summer sun was a long distant memory. Cue March and we’re inching ever closer to spring. Yesterday was the first decent day of 2020 here and I even managed to get the bike out.

I don’t ride on the road very often anymore (not here anyway) but if there’s one thing I get the most gratification out off, it’s showing up modern machinery with our older bikes. Having the powerrangers scratch their Rossi-rep lids in disbelief how they just got left for dead by a bike older than themselves, usually ridden buy a guy in jeans and trainers. But, enough about me…

The above is best done on a bike that is very understated and one that, in the eyes of the unknowing, just looks “old” My pink-neon wheeled EFE doesn’t fit this category but the 1100M Oilyspanner built that you see above is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Even if you do know what you’re looking at, you’d have to look twice to see all that has been done to the seemingly stock-looking bike. Starting off fairly standard a few years back when it replaced a (much) later model GSXR, all was done to have the older bike get in the realms of modern sportsbikes.

Weight was shed anywhere and everywhere possible; roughly 40kgs (!) saved over stock and with a modern frontend swapped with the endlessly outdated (and questionably sprung) original Slingy USD’s, the rear was balanced out with a very trick raceshock from Nitron.

The buildthread of this bike reads as though a proper hands-on journalist is using it as a longtermer, with a wealth of information on chassis and especially carb-setup. Jetting all done on the basis of experience, “feel” and the use of a private road (officer), the bike has become what it should’ve been in 1991, had our friends in Hamamatsu had the technology of today.

Still very much a project but you can’t help but tip your hat to the work already gone into this bike to make it what it is now.

Congratulations Oilyspanner, your bike is this months Bike of the Month

I’d have left the purple wheels though…

Discuss here

Buidthread here

Bike of the Month December 2019

Some bikes are built because you can, some because you want and sometimes because you need to. A sense of urgency before you miss that window of socially accepted ownership, so to speak. Such is the tale of Kraptanaman’s turbo GS1000.

Excuses at the ready to justify the actual turbo to the good lady, parts were gathered from inside OSS-land and the build commenced swiftly. This very bike will be the first awarded BOTM twice, because the frame is YoshiJohnny’s old GS1000 Yoshimura-rep, previously earning BOTM way back on the old page.

Playing around with the hacksaw to make the engine fit properly without having to re-do the headers, all fell into place after some persuasion and focus was shifted to the frame itself. Deciding on a slightly shorted seat, the backend was lopped off and the seat shortened to suit.

Making use of the talents and knowhow of several OldSkoolSuzuki heavy-hitters and also a few local tradesmen, the project neared the end of the journey and after the obligatory MOT, it was out on the road, all nice and legal.

However, as normal with pretty much any bike built in any shed, trouble rears its head when you think you’ve done everything properly. This was no different and work was needed to the tank because it sprung a leak under the new paintwork, which ended up needing a different tank and another complete paintjob again.

Over time a trip to Blair’s dyno to get the best out of the old oilboiler, Andrew ended up with a 200+ Bhp machine, having scratched his mid-life itch of building and owning a turbocharged motorcycle.

Long overdue since it has been finished for some time; congratulations Kraptanaman, your GS Turbo is this months Bike of the Month.

Buildthread here

Discuss here

Bike of the Month November 2019

Wintertime, the offseason; pumpkin-spice everything, snow, iceskating, Christmas… Don’t you hate it?

I do; I’d rather be basking in sunshine, hooning the backroads on my EFE or trying to get that one lap even better than the one before on my next trackday. Another thing wrong with autumn/winter is basically, the lack of light and all that comes with that very fact. My motivation grinds to a halt, nothing gets done and that in turn demotivates even more.

However, you need the time off to get the bikes you broke during the summer preceding it, or building the racebike you dreamt up in your head, to attack the circuits next year.  I’m usually of the the former variety, breaking more than planned, having other projects taking a backseat to whatever I have to bodge first, to get myself underway again.

This also is less than inspiring and pretty much takes the fun out of it and turns it into frustration. One solution to turn all this around and get my mojo back to go and do something myself, is to read about others building their bikes. Most are built to a standard well above my ability, but it doesn’t hurt to have something to strive for.

Trackaddict as I’ve become, I get properly excited when I find true racemachines being built out off the bikes of our penchant. Probably because in my head, it gets translated to; “I can do that” (I can’t) but again, these OSS-bikes appeal more to me than other bikes, for obvious reasons, and get the blood flowing just a bit more than the next late-model superbike.

Duncan’s Slabby you see here, is one of those bikes. Purpose built for the Thunderbike championship, no shortcuts were taken and everything on the bike is there, because it needs to be.

Reading through the buildthread started all the way back in 2016, it’s a tale of triumph and defeat, coming out the other side, chin up and ready for more. Member of our Winged Hammer OSS-raceteam, I’m quite proud to see this bike used for what it’s built for, ridden on and over the very limit, making it better everytime the tires hit the tarmac and also, beating more modern motorcycles just because he can.

I met Duncan last summer when we both attended a weekend of trackday-fun at Cadwell; supernice guy and you wouldn’t think for a second he’s the Take-No-Prisoners racer that he is when the visor goes down. The bike too; it’s a black Slabby with gold wheels, until you start to look properly. Detail upon detail is found and it makes me want to start building my bikes to the standard this is.

I can’t, but I can try..

Congratulations Dupersunc, your bike is this month’s Bike of the Month

Discuss here

Buildtread here  

Bike of the Month September 2019

I’m late, I know it and I’m sorry..

We chose this months BOTM 2 weeks ago and I could have written this then. I was distracted by working on my bikes, thrashing them on various circuits (with a visit to the graveltrap included) and all other boring things that make up life.

If I had a timemachine, I could go back to the start of the month and pen this article in time for JB to gloat the full month, being awarded BOTM. Sorry JB; all my fault..

However, if I actually did have access to a timemachine, I really wouldn’t go back in time a week of 2, I’d go back straight to the time when our bikes were the newest/fastest/best you could buy. A different world, different music, fashion and a very different way of modifying bikes. I’d fucking love it..

Back in the 70’s and early 80’s, there were more than a few options to make a bike handle better with forkbraces (remember them?), aftermarket swingarms (Davida, anyone?) and even complete frames.

When does a bike stop being one thing, and start being the other? A discussion for later maybe, fact is that for many an aftermarket-frame bike is the pinnacle of bikebuilding and modification.

We still drool over Spondons, Harris’ and Marteks but there are a few more obscure manufacturers too. Not that these bikes are lower on numbers but a lot of the Moto Martins and Eglis are used what they were once built for; Racing.

When JB got his hands on the 750 you see before you, it had been off the road for quite a few years.  Diving straight in, the bike was in running order in not too long a time and even got in touch with the framebuilder to verify what the frame had been originally intended for; a GS1000.

One job at a time, it didn’t take long before the bike was on the road and not long after that, on the racetrack. I’ve been out with JB a few times and it really is quick; a testament to JB’s riding skills, building skills and further proof that theses frame really had an edge over the factory frames of the time.

Congratulations JB, your Moto Martin is this months Bike of the month

Discuss here

Buildthread here

Bikes of the Month August 2019

Rooster Racing’s bike 81 and bike 82. The GSXR 1100 powered Harris Magnum and the GSXR 1100 slabside are my firm choices for Bikes of the month for August 2019.

Rooster Racing GSXR1100 Harris Magnum and GSXR1100 Slabside

This will come as no surprise to those of you who followed my write up on Rooster Racing at Spa last month. We normally choose a single bike for bike of the month but the truth is, they both now hold a special place in my heart and a special place in the oldskoolsuzuki Winged Hammer’s hall of fame.

Rooster Racing team 81 and 82 Spa 2019
Rooster Racing Oldskoolsuzuki Winged Hammer
Rooster racing Angus Green GSXR Harris Magnum Spa 2019

Both bikes boast in excess of 165 BHP at the rear wheel, they are peppered with hand made functional engineering and they have one of the loveliest and well executed paint schemes you’ll find.

Rooster racing GSXR1100 Slabside Spa 2019

They were built with a single purpose in mind and they fulfilled that purpose admirably.

Rooster racing GSXR Harris Magnum
Rooster Racing GSXR 1100 Slabside

Don Hill and Rooster Racing you built our very first Bikes ( plural) of the Month.

Members discuss here