We are privileged to feature an incredible array of custom motorcycles from the world’s best builders, but the beating heart of the scene has always been the backyard build. The world over, enthusiasts spend their limited spare time in the home garage, shed or any usable space they can find, wrenching, fabricating and learning as they go. And there is just no other feeling like that first ride on a motorcycle you’ve poured your own blood, sweat and tears into, as the agony finally becomes ecstasy. So, we had an instant affection for this home-built Bandit, from Edmonton, Canada. With a little help from his friends, Cody Wesley built his slick 2000 model Suzuki and understandably he’s all smiles from ear to ear with each and every ride. 

Having been bitten by the biker bug, Cody just needed to find the right donor to kick off his customising adventure. “The journey to my dream custom motorcycle started with a neglected and abandoned 2000 Suzuki Bandit 600. A friend and I have been tinkering and modifying motorcycles since before we could legally ride them, and after completing a custom bobber for him, I knew I needed to try and one-up his bike. I came across the Bandit in the winter of 2021 and could see the potential to transform a worn sport tourer into my most extensive project,” he tells us.

Staring at a clapped-out bike can be a daunting task, but being an industrial designer by trade, Cody knew that a few concept sketches and digital renderings would give him a head start, and he designed a bike that had the best blend of cafe racer and street fighter aesthetics. Now he could get his hands dirty, and in his home garage, he began tearing into the Bandit, stripping it back to a bare frame. Next, the grinder was spun up and the huge factory subframe was cut off, which has the added benefit of ridding the bike of its sizeable passenger pegs and hangers. In its place, Cody bent up and welded a new round tube piece, that gives the bike an ultra-clean appearance.

Having conquered the metalwork aspect of the build with his friend Emery, it was time for Cody to get itchy, and through trial and error, he made a neat seat base from fibreglass. The rear cowl would be made the same way, but to pick up the lines of the tank, he cleverly first designed and printed a 3D mould, before using this to bring the final shape to life. Now the frame and its new subframe could go out to be sandblasted and powder coated in black. To provide a stunning contrast, Cody wielded the paint gun himself, and laid down a beautiful Suzuki yellow finish, with a top coat infused with a candy sparkle effect.

The unmistakable appearance of that air/oil-cooled Suzuki engine means it serves as a big part of the bike’s look, and Cody has made sure it doesn’t let the build down. Having made sure the cases, covers and carbs are all neat as can be, the TPS equipped intake benefits from a bank of quality pod filters to really let the four-cylinder engine breathe. The four-valve head flows plenty of air, so to help make more power, reducing any restrictions is vital for performance and the massive factory muffler proves to be a major impediment. Cody’s solution was to fit a new mid-pipe which helps to adapt a lightweight Lossa Engineering reverse cone muffler.

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking the suspension is exactly the way it left the Suzuki factory, but serious work has gone into the handling transformation. The stock bike used traditional forks and a very budget rear shock, so when Cody literally “came across a 1997 GSX-R750 sitting in the trees behind a donkey pen,” he relieved the bike of its forks, completely rebuilt them and then used a custom steering stem to adapt them to the Bandit frame. At the back end, he’s gone down a similar path, using a 2007 GSX-R750 shock, with aftermarket dog bones to drastically improve the rear’s ride quality and performance.

The USD forks give the bike a much tougher appearance than the factory match sticks and also come with the added bonus of having the lower mounts for some beefy brake calipers. The Tokico items are another Suzuki parts bin find and matched with the big drilled discs offer exceptional stopping power. Matched up to the factory underslung rear caliper setup, late braking fun is now a big part of this Bandit’s appeal. Mounted on the clip-on bars, a Nissin master cylinder provides the power to the new front brake setup, and adjustable levers improve the feel.

To give the bars an updated and more custom vibe, a new set of grips and aftermarket mirrors clean things up nicely. Typical of the period, the factory lighting was huge, and Cody spent time carefully assembling an improved setup. A small LED headlight is the perfect fit for the front end and the LED strip for the rear keeps weight down too. A collection of clear-lensed indicators is just what the doctor ordered and his own custom number plate bracket hides under the seat; a piece he made too! “A love of sewing and after-work upholstery classes resulted in the final seat, which has ribbed pleats and two fabric types.”

It’s the perfect cherry on top of this Suzuki sundae and having built his own Bandit, there is extra pride whenever Cody hits the Edmonton roads for a ride.

[ Cody Wesley ]