When it comes time to buy a new motorcycle, plenty of people turn to their favourite magazine to see which bike comes out on top in their latest multi-machine shootout. But the winning motorcycle is very often not the best bike to actually own, with journalists just as capable of being won over by gadgets, gizmos and flashy PR presentations as anyone else. Take for example the Suzuki GS500, it never won a group test in its life, and yet sales figures and user reviews don’t lie. These things are cheap, unbreakable and just plain fun to thrash on. So, for a guy who has a shed full of brilliant bikes, it was his 1999 Suzuki GS500 that he really wanted customised, and he turned to Poland’s Tomasz Gendera to produce this simply stunning result.

The GS500 hit its first market in 1988, and despite the engine being based on an earlier platform, the humble twin has only recently ceased production at Suzuki’s main South American facility. The supreme reliability of the parallel twin made the bike a favourite of learner riders, the world’s commuter population and those who simply wanted to bike on a budget. Learn to ride schools bought dozens at a time and yet being lightweight and with 45hp on tap, you could still have some fun. The owner of this bike has in his shed a 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000, as good a sports bike as you can get, and a 2022 Triumph Speed Triple, a true street shredding master.

So the fact he chose his humble GS for a makeover, shows you just how much these things tug at the heartstrings. And it was in the hands of his friend Tomasz Gendera that he entrusted the build, a landscape architect, who also owns a bike building workshop just outside the city of Poznan. Tomasz has been customising anything and everything since the first moped he owned as a teenager and was up for the challenge. The build brief? “He said it should be a better looking, faster and louder version of his GS from the old times. A bike that can be used for short dynamic rides around the city… to remain a GS500, with its tiny front fork and 3 spoked alloy wheels.”

This meant doing anything truly crazy was out of the question, instead Tomasz set himself the task of improving the GS in every single way, and to hep performance he’d put the already light bike on a diet. Stripping the it down, the first area to stand out for improvement was the huge seat and long tail which gives the bike its ability to carry a family.

The seat, plastics and taillight assembly were all scrapped and the grinder spun up to cut off the subframe. An ultra neat replacement was then fabricated from square steel and in a similar vein, a number plate holder is brilliantly integrated into the swingarm, before both were painted to match the frame.

The tailpiece is all made from scratch, “I made some drawings of the rear at first, then made a digital design using software I use for my architectural purposes,” Tomasz tells us. The cafe racer design has been given a slightly futuristic vibe, with two elevated steps that give the bike a sharp appearance. “Finally I made the seat frame and fitted the foam to grind it and get the shape I wanted. Then the seat was upholstered with a leather finish.” The fab work continues with the front fender a more blade-like design, made from two original units, and the rear fender was made using the same epoxy process as the tail.

“I painted the motorcycle black and blue. I created a new colour scheme but decided to save the original Suzuki logo on the tank. I did the painting myself using an airbrush and spray gun I had in my workshop.” Now that the bike was looking brilliant, it was time to make it operate that way and the brake calipers have all been rebuilt, new pads fitted and a custom reservoir added for the rear. At the front of the bike, a custom upper triple clamp holds rebuilt forks, with new springs and high-rise clip-ons give the look, while not putting all the rider’s weight on their wrists.

The 487cc twin-cylinder engine is certainly not Suzuki’s sexiest, but Tomasz has cleaned it up to have it looking as good as new. Inside the brilliantly engineered donk was still purring like a kitten, so attention was turned to giving the bike some bark with a shortened exhaust and a GP-style stainless muffler for a big improvement in the looks department.

To make the most of this breathing upgrade, the carbs were pulled down and rebuilt, with new jets to add some more fuel and a K&N filter for a rorty induction sound. Horsepower is now around 50, and with 12kg saved, the dry weight sits at a very svelte 157kg; you can see why these bikes can be plenty of fun around town!

To improve the functionality and add reliability, Tomasz took his time to rip out all of the old wiring and build a completely new loom. Now with less real estate in which to hide all of the components, a small li-ion battery is hidden in the tail and other parts below the seat.

Small LED indicators are used throughout, a custom taillight gets the call-up and the traditional headlight is remounted hard to the forks on custom mounts. A digital instrument cluster looks the goods which meant a speedo sensor had to be added, and for those cold Polish days, heated grips have been fitted for comfort.

This GS500 is now truly a gem, and Tomasz Gendera has shown that even the most workmanlike of bikes, can be made fun and fantastic with just the right changes.