Gavin’s Suzuki TS400 special
Here’s another lockdown bike, built in 2020 by Gavin, whose unique Cagiva/Bimota Squalo 500 has featured earlier in these pages.
This 1974 Suzuki might look fairly standard but it’s got wide rims, a small front wheel with a Fontana-type brake, modern Michelin Anakee tyres, and non-standard electrics. The centrepiece is a stator kit, made by Vape in the Czech Republic. But it also has a Bates-type headlight, twin horns, and new old stock speedo/switchgear (from some other Suzuki).
Gavin suggested having the battery on the rack in a trail bag, but I still wanted to find a home for it somewhere under the seat. As you can probably predict from the shape of the air filter housing, I failed. The battery did fit, but it would take half an hour to do the seat screws up afterwards. So it’s out on the rack for now.
The Vape kit worked OK. The rotor nut thread was tight, and needed retapping to run smoothly onto the crank end. Timing the ignition takes a bit of effort. The new rotor doesn’t have a woodruff key; it just relies on a tight fit on the taper. So you have to find TDC yourself and then rotate the engine backwards 22 degrees (the full advance figure).
Next, without moving the crank at all, you fetch off the rotor, and refit it with the timing marks lined up. It’s hard to be 100% certain you haven’t moved the crank a tiny bit during this process, but a cross-check afterwards showed it was accurate.
This engine has a strange firing system: two spark plugs but one HT lead. Gavin explained that the spark would arc across to the second plug all by itself. Suzuki continued doing this for a few years before stopping.
Gavin had a few more jobs before the engine could fire but it’s already an interesting bike: all the charm of an ancient trailie but with proper rubber and powerful lights.