Creating a street special is never easy but to achieve such a radical shift and yet still retain the essential looks of the donor machine takes some doing, Andy Jones has done just that as Classicmotorbikes.net take a trip into Bandit country.
Andy has really nailed the art of keeping the essential vibe and looks of the original machine and yet playing with the senses and making one do a double take. This is the case with his latest efforts, the Skoal Bandit kettle, to the passer by at least, it looks every bit the classic Suzuki GT750, but closer inspection reveals there to be hardly an original part left unaltered or attended to. Andy’s attention to detail is typically intense, from the stunning paintwork and general finish to the pure functionality of the whole machine, it certainly looks as well as it goes.
On the move this big stroker should be a real pussy cat, with a four-stroke like power delivery often thought to be the preserve of reed valve equipped machinery. The piston port triple can chug along happily before clearing its three throats and heading off leaving little but a sizeable cloud of blue smoke and the distinctive hollow roar behind it. the weight of the bike although a good deal less that the way it originally left the factory, does help keep the machine on a sure line on the road while the modded front end helps by sharpening the steering keeping this relatively big machine agile.
The use of more modern cycle parts has transformed this early 70’s Superbike into something altogether more up to date feeling. Where there was wallow and uncertainty, now lives accuracy and road holding akin to something altogether that bit younger and lighter too, even more impressive as currently the bike runs on Tomahawk remanufactured radials. So much so that Andy has taken to getting the machine out on track as often as possible, regularly upsetting the plastic rocket, power ranger, dressed brigade with the Suzook’s pleasant manners and usable engine power.
“After a few track days on one of my other Kettles, I decided that I wanted to build a more track orientated kettle, although I was happy with how they went and handled, I was pretty sure we could improve things, especially in the exhaust department as these were the first thing to ground out even with the racy Allspeeds fitted.
“I had nearly everything needed to build another Kettle and it was decided after top kettle guru Mick Hopson suggested probably the best and cheapest way to go would be to fit Bandit 600 running gear, cheap and plentiful to get hold of and giving the chance to fit modern wheels and tyres. The front end was ok as it was, being Bandit forks, wheel, brakes, and yokes which had been modded to fit by removing the Bandit stem and having a kettle one welded in so it would drop straight on with no change of head bearings, this made the front wheel spindle about 20mm closer to the frame compared to standard kettle forks, the rear end needed a lot more work, the standard Bandit swing arm will slot straight into a kettle frame using a couple of spacers to pack it out but it is about 5+ inches longer than a kettle one making it look like a drag bike, trying to keep the geometry about the same, I had the first swing arm cut down in length and had the monoshock mounting cut out and rebraced so I could get the rear wheel in around the right position..
I had obtained a set of Campbell Geometric expansion chambers via eBay, they had strange cast finned end cans but gave the clearance as they all went under the frame of the bike, the centre pipe is almost triangulated to fit up tight between the 2 outer pipes, and then exit out either side of the swing arm, the downside being that the centre pipe hangs very close to the ground and does touch at times, hence the reinforcing plate that has been welded on.
The pipes were offered up to the bike, but because of the wider bandit swing arm the centre pipe wouldn’t fit, these again were dispatched to the metal wizard, along with diagrams measurements and pictures, also 3 RGV250 end cans which we had decided to cut down by about a third and fit in place of the raygun ones, Mark worked his magic and the pipes again came back exactly as I wanted them he also made 2 sets of removable stingers, loud and ear bleeding silly modes, again all done via mail order and they fitted perfectly, the man is a star and in his honour I had the MRC end can decals made, Mark Reeves Conversions.
The engine was a decent runner so left as is, but the fitting of a EBC heavy duty clutch kit and earlier J model slide carbs up jetted on Ramair filters were used, Neutronics electronic ignition was also installed, and platinum plugs, I had a period nose fairing to go on along with a belly pan which had to be severely cut and shut to get to fit, RGV 250 clocks went on, with the electronic tacho innards removed and Kettle mechanical ones put in with a re done face so it was reading correctly.
“On the bikes initial run out, a couple of things were very apparent, there was a massive flat spot in the revs, doing nothing really till 4000rpm when it then took off like a rocket all the way to and past 7000rpm, and show the bike the slightest bump in the road and the centre pipe would hit the deck, [I had asked mark to reinforce it with a skid plate but that wasn’t going to last long at this rate] I even managed to deck the pipe on what I would consider was a flat bit of motorway at about 80mph which made me jump.
To gain some height I dropped the front forks down in the yokes, and after a chat with Hagons they made me some special order rear shocks which arrived the following day.
“I was really all set to do a classic Barry Sheene RG500 paint job but there are quite a few doing the rounds, so I went for another scheme which I really liked which was the Skoal Bandit one, and as the bike is half a Bandit 600 I thought this was very apt. I prepped and did all the masking for the paintwork, returning each time a new colour went on, Ian from Autocrash, painted it for me. The lads at Imageworks did another excellent job and provided me with all the decals and logos, again nothing seems too much trouble for them and I cant thank them enough for their efforts.
“Does it work? In my opinion yes, very well, it has a very modern feel to it now, and its a lot lighter than a standard kettle which lets face it is not hard to achieve. It stops and goes round corners without grounding anything away and after taking it to a track day at Oulton park, it does everything I set out for it to achieve, putting over 10 modern bikes to shame in the novice group, which was a great laugh for me but one particular owner on a 07 plated CBR600RR was getting really peed off with me, we must have passed each other 3 or 4 times a lap but after a do or die run up the inside of him in one of the last corners the 31-year-old Suzuki triple came out ahead.
I have found out why there isa flat spot in the revs, after some research on the exhausts I found that the maker, John Campbell is out of retirement and is now Campbell custom exhausts down south, he gave me the story behind the pipes. It turns out that a certain Mr B Sheene came to see him in the 70,s for some exhausts for his TR750, and these are the copies of the pipes Bazzer ran on his bikes, John explained that they were never designed for a road going kettle, thus there is no way you can fit a main stand and you have to remove them to change the oil, and that is why they don’t work really below 4000rpm. On the track at circuits like Oulton and Cadwell its not really a problem, just keep it spinning up around 4000rpm and its fine, all in all I’m very pleased with how it turned out, it cost much more and is far prettier than I meant it to be, but as a classic track tool it does exactly what it says on the tin.
“The Kettle Club has been invaluable in the making of this special. If you have a Kettle or want a Kettle you cannot beat the camaraderie of this friendly club, with members who have excellent skills and years of knowledge. Its amazing what you can learn or find, be it a friend of a friend who can provide a service you need, or an illusive part that Suzuki don’t make anymore and you wont find on ebay, the network is brilliant. We also have a small band of us who have now become addicted to taking our specials on trackdays, why not a modern bike someone recently asked me? it just wouldn’t be the same as 500 odd lbs of bucking Kettle thrashing about between your legs, but in all honesty, the bike is now lighter, faster, handles and stops, well enough to put a lot of modern bikes to shame, with a dynoed 71bhp at the back wheel its now good for well over 120mph, What’s next? Well I have since sold Chromeaggeddon, I’m afraid it was not being used, so I now have space for another non-standard kettle, Supermoto kettle anyone? Watch this space.”
Many thanks to the following;
- Welding and fabrication of swingarm and exhausts/footpegs/seat bracket – Master of metal Mark Reeves of the Kettle club
- All stainless fabrication – Chris Roberts of the Kettle club
- Engine rebuild – Mick Hopson of the Kettle club
- Engine tuning – Adrian (81bhp) Mann of the Kettle club
- Graphics/decals – Imageworks 01159 443111
- Martin at Crooks Suzuki – 01229 822120
- Paintwork – Ian Jones of Autocrash Buckley 07963 788784
- Hours of endless advice and banter – Dave Pitcher Kettle club President
- Hagon rear shocks – 0208 5026 222, www.hagon-shocks.co.uk
- All the lads from the kettle club who have helped with their knowledge and advice
Suzuki GT750 Special Specifications
- Engine – Liquid-cooled piston-ported two-stroke triple
- Capacity – 738cc
- Bore & stroke – 70 x 64mm
- Compression Ratio – 6.7:1
- Carburetion – 3 x 40mm Mikuni
- Max Power – 71bhp @ 6500rpm
- Torque – 53 ft-lbs @ 5500rpm
- Ignition – Newtronics electronic
- Transmission – 5-speed chain final drive
- Frame – steel twin loop cradle
- Suspension – 41mm telescopic forks Hagon twin shocks
- Wheels – 120/60 x 17 160/60 x 17
- Brakes – 290mm discs 2-piston floating-calipers, 240mm disc 2-piston caliper
- Wheelbase – 1460mm
- Weight – 251kgs
- Fuel capacity – 17ltrs
- Top speed – 125mph
Suzuki GT750 Special Gallery