They’re a class of motorcycle that you just can’t buy new anymore and not deemed ‘cool’ enough by most, some 20 years after the height of their popularity they’ve all but disappeared. The standard sport motorcycle was the bread and butter of any Japanese new bike dealer in the late ’90s, with names like the Honda Hornet, Yamaha Fazer, and Suzuki Bandit selling like hotcakes. They were so reliable that people spun the odometer on them multiple times, racking up enormous kilometres. But Bulgaria’s Tossa R found just the right example, a needle in the haystack, and appreciating the brilliant foundations of Suzuki’s Bandit have lashed this one with love, calling it ‘The Last Samurai’.
With a background in racing, the Sofia-based workshop headed up by Asen Zahariev always finds a way to bring out the best in any bike they touch and always ensure that even the most mundane machine leaves their shop with enhanced sporting credentials. So it should come as no surprise that they’ve actually already built both a brilliant Honda Hornet and a Kevin Schwantz inspired Suzuki Bandit. These naked bikes of the ’90s might have had bland styling and an upright riding position, but their engines were de-tuned versions of some of each company’s best Supersports engines.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you know how to extract their very best! So armed with a tidy example of a Suzuki’s GSF600, the bike that built the class, the boys stripped it down and readied it for a total transformation. It’s clear that extensive work went into ensuring the distinctive tubular steel trellis frame was restored to perfection. But there is simply no saving the stock subframe if you want a good-looking ride. So it’s been cut off and a super clean example fabricated, which is then welded back to the original mounts.
Those paying close attention will notice that this is not some super short piece to hold a tiny single seat. And yet the visuals give a very clear indication that the rear wheel is now suspended considerably further back than stock. To get this look, while not sacrificing seat space, a new swingarm is slotted in that has been extended 130mm, giving the bike an ultra-tough low and long side profile. To fill out the rear and give it some girth to match the extra length, a rear wheel from a K2 Suzuki GSXR was selected.
There are no corners cut, with the whole rear shock and linkage assembly all rebuilt, painted, and tidied up to give it an as-new look. Then to ensure the front end joins the party with the same profile, the front forks are lowered internally and dropped through the triple trees, before the flat bars were replaced with a custom set of clip-ons. The triple trees and lower fork legs have all been repainted, with the swingarm finished in the same satin black. Before the original Bandit brakes were rebuilt and the calipers hit with gold.
Bringing the looks to life the bodywork has been kept in a very minimalist fashion, allowing the slabside derived engine to take centre stage. But rather than try and hide the unusual Bandit chassis, Asen has instead made it pop with a glossy deep cherry red that is also applied to the rims of the wheels. It has the perfect effect of framing out the main components of the bike, with the original tank hit with a gloss black and period decals in gold. The front fender is a seriously chopped down unit and mesh fills the holes where the side covers once lived.
The de-tuned Supersport engine is never going to win any straight line speed races in stock trim, but it is ultra-reliable. To give it some extra pep and elicit a barking mad sound, the stock headers flow rearward to a drastically cut-down mid-pipe and an SC Project muffler that serves up a serious weight saving. If the engine had a weakness it was the carbs, and these have been rebuilt, sync,ed and tuned for the new pipe to ensure it all runs smoothly. The oil-cooler has been refurbished and fitted with a guard and then the whole engine is painted to restore it to a gleaming new finish.
Known for its comfort, none of that has been lost with an all new custom seat that looks brilliant and also offers up plenty of padding. The base pan was made in-house, with room underneath to help hide the electrics in the new subframe, before the top was shaped and covered in black and stitched in a theme-matching gold. An LED taillight sits just underneath, while upfront is a trick new headlight from Doxmall, with tiny indicators hidden in the clamps.
The finished product takes the basic and bland Bandit and gives it a new life, ready for the battlefield where this Suzuki Samurai can rule the streets.