Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Keeping it Simple

The Suzuki Savage (or Boulevard S40 as it’s been called since 2005) is hardly the type of bike that is likely to keep you up all night in a “gotta have that bike” kind of frenzy. Proof of that is the amount of them one can see on the roads. In my 20+ years of motorcycling, I myself have seen three of them in the flesh – and one of those was sitting forlornly in a corner of the Suzuki dealership where I bought my first bike (a 400cc Suzuki Bandit). Even the Dealer Principal dissed it when I showed curiosity about it. “Oh no, you wouldn’t be wanting that one…” So we’re obviously talking about a seriously underwhelming machine here.

Ryca CS-1: Rebel with a parking ticket

But the Savage/S40’s dowdy looks and decidedly lacklustre performance figures didn’t deter ex-NASA technician Casey Stevenson when, along with his business associate Ryan Rajewski, he decided to make it the basis of their company’s activity – even if making aftermarket conversion kits and parts might initially strike one as a rather elaborate form of corporate suicide. Stevenson claims that he was looking for a simple single-cylinder machine to get him around L.A.’s urban sprawl in style. The fact that he ended up forking out his foldable for a Savage can only be ascribed to the fact that NASA must encourage “thinking outside the box”.

Once he had the bike in his workshop (and no doubt with the thought “what the fuck have I just done?” ringing round his mind) he decided that he was going to turn motorcycling’s equivalent of Nora Batty’s wrinkled stockings into… a café racer. [...]

The finished transformation became the basis for the company’s CS-1 kit. The basic kit includes a seat unit, a restyled petrol tank, clip-ons, rearsets, modified front and rear suspension, an 18-inch rear rim (laced onto the stock hub) and a very vocal slip-on reverse-cone mega. The only requisites are that you send in your S40’s tank and rear wheel when you order the kit. Both items are modified and returned to you when the kit is sent out. This is to ensure that even people with only basic mechanical expertise and a limited supply of tools can fit the kit to their donor bike. The company has a YouTube channel replete with video covering various steps of the assembly. This should notably help reducing the risk of chopping off the wrong bits of the stock frame (part of the rear loop of the stock frame has to be amputated using an angle-grinder).

Ryca CS-2 Scrambler - ideal for a dirty weekend

Since it was brought onto the market, the CS-1 kit has been a resounding success; so much so that even Suzuki USA were impressed by the changes made to the S40 and have been supplying a few Savage/S40s to Ryca. It also means that customers who don’t feel up to the task of building the bike themselves can buy it fully assembled at selected dealerships in the USA. Otherwise the guys at Ryca can provide turnkey bikes directly.

The main selling points of the CS-1 are its exclusivity and the fact that you can build one on a shoestring budget. Even if you buy one over-the-counter you won’t need to fork out that much hard-earned either.

Ryca CS-2 Standard - Everyday chic

And for those riders who think that the stock engine’s performance might be a bit feeble for such a racy-looking bike, Ryca offer hotter cams and are currently developing a big-bore kit.

But Ryca are not limiting themselves to the CS-1. Their budget DIY caff racer has now been joined by the CS Tracker, the CS Standard, the CS Scrambler and the very pretty RR1 Hardtail Bobber (incidentally that is the variant I’d be most likely to part with my cash for – after all, I already own a ‘racer). Alongside that, they are working on a conversion kit for another of Suzuki’s ugly duckling bikes, the TU250 and on a Moto Guzzi based kit.

Ryca RR-1 bobber: Bad...

...to the bone...

Personally I’d love to give the CS-1 a proper road test, partly for my own pleasure but also to give the Thruxtonian’s readers an idea of what it’s like to ride. Unfortunately Savages/S40s are very scarce here in Europe (I have yet to see one here in Spain*), so it’s even more unlikely that I’ll bump into a CS-1 parked on an Iberian street. Of course, if any of our European readers own a CS-1, we could perhaps work something out.

* The day after I wrote that, I came across an S40 parked in the centre of town. Typical, eh?

Photos © Ryca Motors

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