Swallow 1Suzuki’s DOHC four-banger is arguably a more handsome lump than the offering from HMC but for some reason GS donors have been relatively ignored by the custom scene. We’ve featured a few on these pages and would gladly see more. Thankfully Sebastien Joigne from Mr Swallow Customs in Normandy, France sent in this rather gorgeous 1981 GS850.

Swallow 2The Suzy was in a sorry state and required a full strip down prior to any aesthetic rehabilitation. After all new gaskets and seals the engine was ready for 25 hours of polishing, to stand out against the gloss black epoxied frame and very dark green tank.

Swallow 3The original fuel tank was swapped-out for a more slender GS550 version, proportionally matched here with a stubby, hollow café tail, complete with frenched-in LED indicators. The leather seat is Seb’s own handiwork.

Swallow 4Firestone must have been running an eight day working week over the last few years such is the demand for the Deluxe Champion, for good reason too, the tread pattern and cartoonish ballooned sidewalls are subtle enough to be noticed whilst allowing the rest of the builders efforts to shine through. On these late seventies and early eighties café racers they look just right. For extra girth on the rear Seb fitted a 16″ wheel and accompanying 5.00 rubber.

Swallow 5A new wiring loom is usually necessary after three decades of butchery and amateur MacGyvering so Seb made one, hiding it along with the Solice battery under the seat, yet still managing to keep the rear loop clean and clear. Switchgear is a mix of upgrades and custom made, mounted to clipons on forks lowered 80mm.

Swallow 8The exhaust is a proper Marving 4-into-1 from the Italian pipework stars of the 1980s. Everyone of a certain age must recall trying to choose between Micron and a Marving zorts. Seb has incorporated a 21st century soundtrack by shortening the muffler slightly, after all, he wants people to hear as well as see his endeavours.

Swallow 9

This GS is the 6th build to roll out of the Swallow Custom workshops and by January that number could rise as Seb is due to open a small, semi-professional garage catering for existing customers and those liking his style. We’re pretty sure business will be brisk.

Words by · Bike by


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