Gary Haythorn is well known within the classic world having been a regular attendee with his stunning machines at the many classic shows over the last few years. His latest creation is a superb better than new Suzuki X7, the first 250cc machine to be capable of a genuine 100mph, a position it held for two years until the next generation of quarter-litre bikes arrived.
Known locally as Dougie, Gary Haythorn grew up in the 80’s, his first motorcycle experience was on a Honda C70 at the age of twelve. “It literally took my breath away”, Gary recalled, “the feeling was euphoric and that was it, I was hooked”.
“I was allowed a field bike FS1E at thirteen, and then spotted in the local Ford garage a Suzuki X5 200, taken in as a part exchange, 8000 miles on clock in yellow, £150.00 later and it was mine. The local lads all had proper bikes, CB’s GT’s, and the bike of the moment, the X7, it seemed so much bigger and better finished off than the X5. The frame, and bike in general, looked the same but it was fatter, as were the tyres, the talk all X7 too, it did this and did that and could also power wheelie, so the legend grew quickly especially for those not fortunate to ride one. I was mesmerised by the bike and it stuck with me throughout formative years. I passed, my bike test in 1987, and guess what I bought, that’s right, an X7, tatty I agree but still an X7. I did a quick,17-year-olds restoration on it and it looked good, well at least I thought so. It was fun and I thrashed it, blew it up, re-built it, thrashed it and blew it up, in an endless series of such incidents. I now have a large collection of Japanese two and four-stroke bikes including a GPz900R Kawasaki and many Suzuki’s, and just recently had an idea to restore an X5, and another idea to do an X1, and then thought, hey, lets have a full house and restore an X7 as well. I looked and bought as cost effectively as I could a fair condition £700 machine with some damage, and painted in some pretty funny colours, the restoration had begun.”
“Once the very sorry looking X7 was home, I stripped it, photographing every stage of the tear down, but soon noticed that it had seen some down the road action, along with some horrid wiring loom repairs. First things first, strip down the rear dampers and find better silencers from the great eBay, and send all the chrome work for replating. Next, degrease and wire wheel brush all the nuts and bolts and fasteners and linkages etc and send off to a local zinc platers for their attention. One week later, all the parts were back and looked fantastic, all the original bolts with the digits 4 and 7 on the heads and that Suzuki “S” mark looked new.
Next came the frame and its various bolted on components, all were sand blasted by myself in fine sand, and brought to a perfect clean bright finish. Two pack primer was applied, then flatted off before lashings of two-pack black was sprayed on and that was it, the frame was done. My attention turned next to the motor, I fully stripped it to leave the bare cases, which were blasted with fine grit so as not to damage the delicate surfaces. new pistons were fitted along with a complete set of gaskets, and all the lovely re-plated bolts clamped it all together.
The engine covers were flatted with wet and dry and a semi-matt grey metallic applied leaving the completed motor looking factory fresh and as new. The next job on the list was the electrics and this proved to be the trickiest of the lot, the loom being in a really poor state having been repaired with scotch locks and white tape. A new one was no longer available form Suzuki so I turned my effort to that great supplier of all things unwanted by others, eBay.
Many hour spent searching the world failed to turn up a new loom, not even a usable used item appeared so I had to change my line of thought. years earlier I had scrapped an X7 for spares for my road bike at the time, some parts remained in a box languishing up in the attic so a quick hunt soon revealed a tidy wiring harness that once cleaned up and a few connectors had been replaced was working and looking like new again.
The paintwork was next on the list of jobs to be done, this is my specialist department, so one relatively easy for me to do in house, saving much expense in the process. I learnt this trade working in a body shop from leaving school at 16 until 21, and then changing to my current job, working on HGV’s. The panels were mostly cracked, and the tank dented, but this job comes as second nature to me having been shown the right way to tackle such work. Decals were made by the friendly and helpful chaps Graham and Ted, at the Image Works, Ilkeston, Derby. These were carefully applied and lacquered over and the end result looks fantastic. There is nothing better for spurring on a restoration job than having the finished tank and side panels sat on the shelf awaiting fitting to the chassis. I am also lucky to have a good friend for all the new parts, CH Biggadikes Motozone at Spalding Lincs have been a great help, Clive spends hours sourcing Suzuki parts for me, lets me raid his parts bins of old parts, and then gives me discount on top of that, he makes endless cups of tea too. The final build up was fairly straight forward as much of the work had been anticipated and completed well in advance based upon the restorations I have completed before.
To finish the job off, where possible, every cable and clamp, indicators and lamps was purchased from Suzuki via Clive. A new seat was needed but, as the X7 seat is a no longer a stocked part, a search on the internet found one at T and GT parts in Holland, a chap called Macel helped out no end with this purchase. When the seat arrived it didn’t fit correctly, so another search began, this proved more than difficult, but, after 12-months of looking, a new one appeared on eBay but at a price, £275 changing hands before my X7 looked right and was completely finished. Seat apart, the bike took about six-months to do in total, using up many nights and weekends, as well as tea breaks at work. My boss, Malcolm Roffe of Roffes transport ltd, Sutton Bridge, tolerates me and I cant thank him enough as his haulage yard and workshops are littered with my complete bikes and parts of bikes awaiting attention. Also a very big thanks to my local Ford car franchise dealer, Leesons garage of Sutton Bridge, John Cooper, the proprietor lets me use his low-bake oven for all my painting requirements, what a guy he is, but he does have a bigger collection of bikes than me.”
- wiring loom had been bodged with scotch lock connectors
- hidden crash damage proved tricky and expensive to repair
- some new parts didn’t fit correctly wasting both money and time
- parts in general hard to locate for most early Suzuki’s
T and GT parts Holland
X7 owners club – tel. 0115 953 2469
Suzuki GT forum and website
Image works Derby tel 01159 443 111
CH Biggadykes Motozone tel 01775 723 037
1980 Suzuki X7 EN Specifications
- Type Air-cooled, two-stroke, twin cylinder
- Capacity 247cc
- Bore x stroke 54 x 54mm (x inches)
- Compression ratio 6.8:1
- Fuel System 2 x 26mm Mikuni VM28SS
- Primary/final drive 3.1:1, 2.866:1
- Clutch/gearbox wet clutch, 6-speed, chain final drive
- Electrics 12v 5AH, PEI electronic ignition
- Frame tubular steel single down tube
- Front suspension 32mm telescopic forks
- Rear suspension steel swing-arm with twin oil damped shocks
- Brakes front/rear 254mm disc single-piston floating-caliper, 178mm single-leading-shoe drum
- Wheels front/rear 3.00 x 18 3.50 x 18 inches
- Tyres front/rear 3.00×18 Kenda 3.50×18 Cheng Shin
- Dry weight 128kg (282lb)
- Wheelbase 1310mm (51.6inches)
- Seat height 762mm (30inches)
- Fuel capacity 14.8litres (3.3gals)
- Top speed 101mph
- Max power 28.5bhp@8300rpm
- Fuel consumption (claimed) 35mpg
- Price new £ 836 inc vat (1980)
Gary’s top tips for restoration
Concentrate on the paint work first as this is often the time consuming bit as well as being a good thing to urge the restoration on
Don’t give up looking for parts and make sure everyone has your details and parts wanted list
Often the help you need can be quite local so try to build up relationships with the smaller businesses
Don’t rely on eBay too much prices are becoming inflated so beware
Buy as cheaply as possible to allow spare cash for those unexpected items
Avoid boxes of parts at all costs
Suzuki GT250 X7 Restoration Gallery
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