The only thing better than building vintage motorcycles is having someone else pay for the parts. So, when I saw that BikeBandit.com and Cycle World were teaming up to sponsor some lucky reader’s build, I was all in. Not that I ever win anything, but hey, nothing ventured, as they say.
And even though I submitted the form, sent in a photo of my bike and everything, I was still a little skeptical when a nice lady from Cycle World called to tell me that I was selected. "Really?" I thought. You don’t need my credit card up front? I don’t have to send my banking information to your cousin in Nigeria?
Nope, it was legit!
The bike I was about to build was possibly the roachiest 1975 Suzuki T500 in existence. Several years ago, I bought this rust bucket as part of a collection of bikes and parts from outside Reno, Nevada. Out in the middle of nowhere, a guy was herding 1970′s-era two-stroke motorcycles in a couple of giant Quonset huts. Rumor was he was also selling illegal weapons from those huts. Unfortunately, the Federal government frowned on his method of making a living and arranged alternative housing for him in one of their fine gray-bar hotels for five-to-seven years.
Due to his "forced" vacation, his family members were tasked with selling off his collection, and I struck a deal with them. If I would take them all, I could have them for the paltry sum of $50 each. I was soon the "proud" owner of this T500, which appeared to have been parked outside and abandoned. And while it was rough, it was original and only had 8000 miles on it. I figured I would set it aside and get to it one day.
Well, "one day" arrived with news that I had been chosen, so I set about putting together my wish list. The T500 was Suzuki’s answer to the Yamaha RD400, and as such, it had a enviable racing heritage. It would be important to acknowledge that history and faithfully represent it with the café-retro mod I had in my mind.
Sometimes, the translation from your minds eye to actual nuts, bolts and metal can go sideways, but working with the people at BikeBandit.com made everything go just the way I envisioned it! The website was easy to use, and the communication was top-notch. I don’t know how they do it, but their contributions were nothing short of military precision. The BikeBandit.com e-mail confirmations kept me abreast of where everything was at any given time, and parts soon began arriving. The bulk of my order arrived in three days and long-lead time items were four-to-five days. Amazing.
While trying to bring a 37-year-old relic to life can be about as daunting as making a cow out of a pound of hamburger, the BikeBandit.com website sure made my task easy. From a $50 rat bike, through the ease of ordering from BikeBandit.com, to the sheer joy of assembling this project, the whole experience has been nothing short of a dream come true.
– Don McGregor 10/2/12
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