GN400 minimalist (cafe) truck-bike

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DaveKamp

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So it's not a wing... actually, very much the opposite... This is a Suzi GN400 that I bought half-missing, but with a clean title, good tires, and perfect for making into a minimalist kick-start lightweight cafe-type bike to tuck inside my service truck.

Granted... this was in 2001... 18 years ago...

I started with this...

Notice, no front fender, no headlamp, no gauges, no key, no seat, no seatrail, no turn signals, no fuel tank. Megaphone is wrapped in place with tinfoil held on hose clamps. Lots of missing parts, but surprisingly, disconnect one wire, and kick it, it'd fire.
 

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DaveKamp

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So I trimmed off a bunch of unused metal and brackets. I relocated the footpegs, removed the original handlebars, and made some clip-on type bars (more to make it narrower so that it'd take up very little space inside the service truck). Mirrors were missing, too, btw...

This is a Honda tank, not sure what bike it came from, but probably around a CB-350ish, probbaly a twin. Had recesses for knees, and actually dind't fit half bad.

Yes, the seat pan/rear fender combination was something I hand formed and TIG welded from aluminum scraps I had.
 

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DaveKamp

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The airbox and battery box were gone, wiring was half-out. Clearly this bike had been scavenged for parts, but I'm not sure why. I removed the 6v regulator and 6v lamp filaments, and made a 12v shunt-regulator to replace the (missing) unit... made some rather drastic wiring reductions... this is how the wiring diagram STARTED... and how it was after I finished removing everything unnecessary...

(oops... I posted them backwards)...
 

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DaveKamp

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That sounds right. At the moment, the tank has a little problem- the metal around the petcock has become too thin to retain gasoline... (sigh)... And there's lots of dust covering it. I fired it up and took it for a spin a year ago... needless to say, I ran the carb dry before I parked it... not necessarily by choice... it just sorta happened as I was pulling in the driveway... :whistling:

The GN's powerplant is close family to the dirtbike of same size, and one of the reasons I chose the GN, was because it had a kick-starter. My previous truck bike was also a little thumper... a KZ250, but it had electric start only, so it HAD to have a battery, and it HAD to be well-charged, which in a stored-and-ready application, well... it wasn't too bad, but not what I really needed. The GN has a CDI magneto ignition, and as a result, no battery is required, just a swift kick to get it going. This thing I started with had been scavenged for lots of electrical parts, which was of practically no consequence as a result... I just made a 'running regulator' system out of it- a 12v regulator circuit to replace the missing 6v reg, and I made mine so that no battery charging load was necessary... once the engine is running, the headlamp and taillamp are on.

I had to find a suitable headlamp bucket, but lacking battery and airbox was no problem. I removed lots of other pieces, and I'll admit, I didn't spend much time making it glamorous, I just unbolted, unscrewed, and tossed stuff... to remove anything that wasn't absolutely necessary.

You'll also see in the (future) pictures that it has a front fender... a plastic sportbike-type aftermarket fender, and I believe it actually mounted up working, and looking better, in a backwards orientation (I never really could tell for sure). Just black plastic, function over form.

Oh, and when I get further pictures, you'll notice that it looks like it sits lower. I did no modification to the rear suspension... but I did lower the fork tubes in the triple-trees by an inch and a half or so, and for two reasons- first, my clip-ons are aluminum block clamps that grab those tubes, and second, with a fair amount of weight removed, the bike wanted to sit a little higher, even with my side of roast beef hangin' on it. I originally figured that the clip-on clamp would need to be rotated to provide shelf-clearance when in the truck, so I made it so that an allen wrench would make it a 20 second job to loosen and flip it forward, but turns out the handgrip slipped nicely inside an unusable space in the truck shelving, so I never had to swing 'em out of the way. I figured that if it became a regularly necessary thing, I'd adapt a quick-release skewer from a bicycle wheel or seat clamp so that it was a no-tools operation, but never had to.

The rotted-out megaphone came off, and since I was clamping this to the wall of my service truck, I put a shorty slip-on muffler that's effective, but very compact... IIRC it came to me through JC Whitney, but it was smaller than the typical bologna type on my Sportster, but it fit, and in place, with clip-on bars, no right hand mirror, I could put the bike tight up against the wall with the peg up and not eat up floor space, and it was low enough not to obstruct the shelves of parts above.
 

DaveKamp

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There was a time when I was somewhat concerned about local constibulary being concerned about it's minimalist nature. With turn-signals being integrated into my left arm, I really only had two other concerns... first being the horn, second being the lighting. When the engine is at speed, all lights and horn work fine, but as you can imagine, at idle, it's a different story... the headlight works fine, but it does go rather yellowish. Taillight works too, gets rather dim, and brakelight works, but not as hugely bright. Of course, when I'm stopped, I've got two feet on the ground, and this thing is so light that there's hardly ever a need to use the brake at a stoplight... even on a hill... after riding ANYTHING else, it feels more like a bicycle than a 400cc thumper... so it's rare that anyone would even notice that the lights dim...

...but remember, this hodgepodge was made long before LED lamps. One'a these days, when I dig it out, it'll get an LED lamp in the tail, and that'll probably solve that forever.

When idling, and I press the HORN button, well... it sounds like a pissed-off duck... or my dad's Model A Ford, but without the AhOOOoo.... it's just Gahhh.... I should take it hunting, it'd call drakes in by the hundreds! :smilie_happy:

Of course, once I bring the engine up off idle, it sounds normal... except for the fact that the muffler doesn't disguise the 400cc bellering coming from the backend. Suffice to say, I don't think I've ever used the horn in traffic. matter of fact... I can't remember ever using my GL1200's horn for anything other than testing... I'm not a horn-wielding driver... I just keep my eyes open, and ride like nobody can see me, and if they don't, i get over it... that's motorcycling. :wave:
 

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:smilie_happy: Hah! "Easy"??

Actually, the cable was bound up really tight down at the bottom, and broken just inside the handle, so I disconnected it, then made a temporary replacement, and tried it. I decided that the 'Hot Start Assist' didn't help me enough to be worthwhile, so I nix'd it. I'm a smidgen over 200lbs, so kicking it wasn't a big deal... plus... it keeps idiots from thinking they can easily steal it... I figured that I'd leave it parked somewhere where I could see it while having a burger and a shake, and hopefully some moron would try to abscond with it, and I'd get free entertainment...
:popcorn:

I DID replace the rear sprocket. OTH I don't remember what tooth count it had originally, but I found a replacement that was like... 3t smaller in the rear, which brought the ratios all up a fair amount. Now, some would wonder just why I'd go higher... well... with it being a fair bit lighter, that meant that first gear would get me out of a stoplight and further down the road before 2nd, and that's exactly what it needed... it didn't really need climbing power or slow-speed parking lot manners. The stock first gear was probably a perfect choice for it's original clothes, but in the cafe-mode, going to a higher ratio brought the ratios in closer at the mid-range speeds, and reduced the interstate RPM a bit. At 4000rpm, this thumper is buzzy enough (especially with my bench seat) to rotate your eyeballs in their sockets... by shedding several hundred RPM, it meant that the round-town range AND mostly-reasonable-interstate speeds weren't so bad. It moved the 'buzzy' frequency out of a normal riding zone... and it did work out well.
 

mcgovern61

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The compression release fooled a few folks that thought they could kick her over without it. Brand new and at her best compression, many of my friends got "slapped" in their sides by the kicker when they couldn't kick that single cylinder over. :smilie_happy:

You had to pull the little lever with a little bit of pressure while you slowly kick the pedal down and then release would click in place. Pull the kicker up and give her a swift kick and she always started like butter with almost no effort at all!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJWyRuxgG1Y

 

DaveKamp

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Yep, that's the process. the other way is Fuel On... handlebar switch OFF, roll starter to compresson stroke, bring it to top, put a boot on it, and kick it like you mean it. Without the hot-start assist, and without knowing that OFF is really ON, well, it's kinda hard for someone to steal...

Did I mention mine came without an ignition key? Had a title, but no ignition key... i solved that. :yes:
 

skiri251

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Nice!
I had GN400 chopper back in Japan some 35 years ago.
gn400-wagoto.jpg

gn400-atago1.jpg

gn400-sarobetsu.jpg

I wish I could buy another one here and now.

And yes, the engine was bore-up version of legendary(?) SP370 dual purpose.
 

DaveKamp

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Cool look, Skiri!

Okay, so, if you'd like another... I have a parts bike... it's missing wheels and tires, tank... mebbie other stuff, but engine and frame, forks are there. You could fit a coffin fuel-tank to it... a really high sissy bar, another fishtail... do some metal magic to the rear and darkside it with oh... a 245-70R15 car tire and something tall-skinny on the front... make a chrome skull for the front, and put small LED beams in the eyes, and another in the mouth... Maltese Cross mirrors, forward controls...

I got a guy who'll be coming a spot 30ish miles east of Phoenix in the near future, it's a bit of a trek over from Torrance, but if you want this one, I could put it in his truck for you to meet him...
 

skiri251

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[url=https://classicgoldwings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=212240#p212240:1zgnjzze said:
DaveKamp » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:11 pm[/url]":1zgnjzze]
Cool look, Skiri!

Okay, so, if you'd like another... I have a parts bike... it's missing wheels and tires, tank... mebbie other stuff, but engine and frame, forks are there. You could fit a coffin fuel-tank to it... a really high sissy bar, another fishtail... do some metal magic to the rear and darkside it with oh... a 245-70R15 car tire and something tall-skinny on the front... make a chrome skull for the front, and put small LED beams in the eyes, and another in the mouth... Maltese Cross mirrors, forward controls...

I got a guy who'll be coming a spot 30ish miles east of Phoenix in the near future, it's a bit of a trek over from Torrance, but if you want this one, I could put it in his truck for you to meet him...

Well it's tempting but Phoenix is a bit too far, and I realize my garage got no room for another bike.
 

DaveKamp

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...if you'd like another... I have a parts bike... ... got a guy who'll be coming a spot 30ish miles east of Phoenix in the near future, it's a bit of a trek over from Torrance, but if you want this one, I could put it in his truck for you to meet him...


Well it's tempting but Phoenix is a bit too far, and I realize my garage got no room for another bike.

Well, I'm sure eventually I'd have someone coming into LA... but the latter isn't a viable excuse... because it isn't a whole bike! :smilie_happy:

Didn't know fish tails had to be used in pairs.. LOL

I had a buddy with a KZ440LTD with just one fishtail... it was a factory megaphone 'till that UPS truck ran over it... It sounded a little FISHY, but it still SWAM fine. He rode the CARP out'a that bike, but couldn't wear it TROUT. Swingarm was bent, so it steered like SHAD. The seat was raw, really hard on your BASS, it road ROUGHY, and gave me a HADDOCK...
:smilie_happy:
 

skiri251

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I had a buddy with a KZ440LTD with just one fishtail... it was a factory megaphone 'till that UPS truck ran over it... It sounded a little FISHY, but it still SWAM fine. He rode the CARP out'a that bike, but couldn't wear it TROUT. Swingarm was bent, so it steered like SHAD. The seat was raw, really hard on your BASS, it road ROUGHY, and gave me a HADDOCK...
:smilie_happy:

LOL

I should really RIDE what I have now.. They are sitting in my garage for too long.
Sadly I ride only my dirt bikes nowadays and that's only in winter (too hot during summer.)

My 82 GL1100A got a dead battery. When it went, I am afraid it took the ignition with it.
Now with a new battery, the engine turns over but no spark.
 
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