1979 Suzuki GS 750L – Tin Shack Special




Before & After

When my friend Tim came to me talking about the Ossa motor transplant, and going on about websites like bikeexif and pipeburn, I got the bike “itch” again. I was nearing the end of a lengthy Land Rover project, a completely rotted bulkhead (firewall), and tub rebuild, and thought a bike would be something fun. So, the Ossa came into the shop and I went on a craigs list hunt to find a bike for myself……….one week and $610 later I had a 1979 Suzuki GS 750L, game on!

Stripped down, wheels powder coated, Avon Speedmasters ( I was under the Wrenchmonkees spell)

The stock tank sucked, the 750L’s were a chopper attempt by Suzuki with a little tear drop tank, ugly. I tried a nice square GS1100 tank found on ebay, but it was just too bulky and long. So, I located a Benelli Mojave tank, it didn’t fit worth a damn either.

Out came the backbone of the frame to get the tank to sit right


Welded up and trellised, now the tank sits perfectly

Gutted wiring harness and mocked up battery tray

Tabs welded to frame to support the stainless battery and electronics tray

Electronics mounted

Rear frame loop welded on

A wooden buck made to help form the aluminum tail. I built it in three sections, tig welded them together, then spent a lot of time grinding, filing, then polishing. The goal was an aluminum tail that looked nearly chrome and as if it were one piece.

The starting point for the tail

Mocked up tail pieces in tin……….just making sure the bends are right before annealing and bending up the 6061 aluminum

Center section formed and welded………a perfect fit over the battery and electrics

All three sections welded up………now the comes the smoothing, grinding, filing, and polishing

The tailpiece after a lot of work and first polishing

Cross drilled the rotors by using a rotary table on the old 1966 Bridgeport Mill

Engine out, painted, polished

Frame back from paint

The 2-day carb clean and re-jet

The re-assembly starts

Tank is painted Mini Cooper Royal Grey by the guys at Autobahn Body Works in South Burlington,VT (we flattened it just a touch), stainless lines from Z1 Enterprises, an ebay find 70’s vintage fork brace, and Tarozzi rearsets & clip-ons

Carb hose manifolds

Hand painted tank logo done by Charlie Decker of Bandit Pinstriping. Charlie travels the country striping and signing hot rods. I met up with Charlie at the Street Rod Nationals in Essex, VT, he took the GS 750s’ tank to his hotel for the night and came back to the show the next day with the tank all lettered up………….awesome, just doesn’t get any cooler!

More photos, some details, and a few of the completed bike

Me, the “Special”, and the “Merc”……….Zak, photographer from Rovers North came to the shop with a real camera and talent to get some good quality photos of the Special.

45 Replies to “1979 Suzuki GS 750L – Tin Shack Special”

  1. Thanks David,
    The rear is a 5.0 x 16 Avon Safety Mileage, front is 3.50 x 19 Avon Speedmaster.

  2. Hi David,
    The “Special” did have a 17″rim, same as yours, when I bought it. I wanted to run the 5.000 x 16 Avon on the rear so went on the hunt for a 16″ rim. The sixteen inch rim was an ebay find, and supposedly off of a 1981 GS 750L (the seller was a salvage yard so experience tells that you never really know what the parts came from), everything lined up (rotor, spacers, etc), I think I had a bit of luck there.

  3. I saw your bike on pipeburn. Amazing job. I just picked up a 750GL last night and am starting a café conversion. Where did you get that pipe? I already have a 4 into 1 header but it has this big goofy slip on muffler.

  4. Hi Matt,
    Thanks very much for the compliments……….glad you think the bike is cool. You’re in for a fun build and great bike to ride……I love these old Suzuki 750 engines. They run for ever, sound great, and still have pretty good power even by todays standards.
    If you go to the Mac website (http://shop.macperformance.com/) the part number for the pipe I used is 203-0301…….that should get you started.
    Send some photos when you get the bike finished, I love seeing what others come up with on these builds.
    Have fun!

    PS Not sure what you have for carbs, but on the VM’s I ended up running #20 pilots, 112.5 mains, and going with hotter Accel Dual Tower coils, their part number 140403.

  5. Hey,

    Great job on the bikes and land rover…oh and the website…
    I stumbled onto you site on another site…

    I have a few bike (as well as web) on the go…

    Keep up the great work!



  6. Nice Job on the GS I’ve had my 79 GS1000 N since 1980 and 40,000+ mile on it.
    So I can really appreciate the work you put in to it. I’m the the process of cleaning up the front end with new spokes and steering damper and looking for a fork brace.
    Do you happen to know what the brace you used came off of ? it’s a good look.
    I’m down in Mass so I have to run a front fender. Did you do any engine modes besides the pipe and jetting?

  7. Hi George,
    The fork brace on the Special is a vintage Cal Cycle dirt bike. They seem to turn up on EBAY quite often, here is a link to one that’s listed now:http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&vxp=mtr&item=261341997954.
    The brace needs to be reworked a bit to sit properly, nothing too involved there as I recall.
    Other than jets/pipe, I didn’t do any engine modifications, the bike was such a nice low mileage piece to begin with I hated to potentially shorten the life of a great old Suzuki engine.
    Thanks and good luck with the 1000!

  8. Thanks, I kinda figured that it was just going to bolt on. If the price is right anything is worth a try.
    Don’t be afriad to modify the motor because they are pretty much indestructable.
    I put valve seals in at 38000 miles. And I will admit the first 3 years I had it I redlined it everytime I got on it thats 20000 hard miles.
    Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question.

  9. Hi guys, I’m slowly working on a 1980 GS750L. Did you fab your rear sets or did you purchase them?

  10. The rearsets on the Special are Tarozzi brand purchased from http://www.fastfromthepast.com/. The Tarozzi stuff is super high quality and it’s very cool that they still make such nice parts for these old bikes. There are four different types of rearsets in the Tarozzi lineup, the set on the Special is Tarozzi’s Type 19 which have a knurled surface peg that folds.
    Good luck with the build,

  11. Hi Justin,
    I did upgrade/update the regulator/rectifier with a unit from ElectroSport. This was the brand/unit recommended by the guys on the GS Resources forum……..a great place to go if you’re restoring or rebuilding an old GS. The unit is mounted discretely under the stainless seat pan in the open air so it stays plenty cool.

  12. Hi,
    First, I’m french and excuse me by advance for my poor english…
    Very nice job !
    I also have a GS750 from 79.
    I’m a fan of wrenchmonkee’s job and of your’s now !
    What type of battery did you put on your bike ?
    Thanks for the answer.

  13. Hi Sylvain,
    Your english is far better than my french. I’m a huge Wrenchmonkee fan also, love Monkee #7, the old Sportster with the vintage Husky tank……way cool!
    The battery in the GS750 is a Ballistic brand Evo2 eight cell version. They’re a nice solution for custom builders, very compact and can be mounted in any position.

  14. Thanks Colby !
    The monkee#7 is very cool.
    The contrast of husky tank is amazing… Like your Laverda tank.

  15. Hi Colby, very clean looking bike, was going to drive my gs650g with few modifications but now that I saw yours I would say I’m jealous… I did a cafe out of it as well… Lol just finishing up… Again thanks for the inspirations…

  16. Hi Duncan,
    Thanks very much for the compliments. I really like what you did with your GS650, very tight/compact, and very cool finish on the tank, nice work!

  17. Colby, This bike is sick!

    I have just acquired a 1977 GS750 – I have just finished stripping it down to parts to modify and rebuild. Lots of other project bikes do away with the old front end and replace the shock and steering arm. What did you use on this bike?

    All the best

  18. Hi Jonny,
    Thanks for the high praise, much appreciated. Sounds like you have the perfect year (in my opinion) GS 750……..I believe it is the “DB” designation bike, spoke wheels with dual front discs…..perfect! My GS is the “L” model…..cast wheels with longer forks and leading front axle…….not optimal for a cafe stance so I slid the forks up in the triple trees to give the bike the stance that your bike probably has in stock form. So, my GS has essentially the original suspension which still works quite well. If you wanted to improve your suspension without breaking the bank, I would put Progressive springs in your forks, and shop around for some higher quality, slightly stiffer rear shocks. Send a photo along when you finish it up, I love seeing what other people come up with.
    Have fun!

  19. Barely…….get the bike to TDC and you get about one half of the stroke before interference with the Terozzi rearsets…..far easier to push the start button, and no damage to the nice rearsets!

  20. Hi Colby,

    I have started my own cafe build on a 78′ GS750. I was wondering what you did with the “PCV” valve coming off the top of the engine? I have the same pod filters and now have no where to hook up the vent line. My other question is what are the filters coming out of the bottom of the gas tank in front of the tank?

    Thank you and great work!

  21. Thanks very much……..you picked a great bike to start with, the early GS’s are the strongest running, most reliable bikes of that era…..in my opinion of course! The two filters you see coming out from under the gas tank are the PCV system. I made a stainless plate to fit the curve of the tank, then a manifold with a small pre-filter that feeds into the two small K&N’s. When I run the bike hard I most certainly get some crank case vapor feeding into the crotch of my pants, but hey, the price you pay for a cool looking custom……….and over the years I’ve owned some custom Harleys that have left more of a mark on me than just crank case stink!
    Good luck with the build and send a photo when you finish up,

  22. Not sure if this page gets checked anymore or not but…

    What brake and clutch levers are on the bike? Thanks

  23. Hi,

    Just wanted to say I really like this GS!

    I just picked one up (’81) and yours is the direction I’d like to take my build.


  24. Thanks Tim, glad you like the GS. Good luck with your build, these old GS’s are wonderful bikes.

  25. A. MAZE. ING.
    I’ve always wanted a bike and am close to pulling the trigger on a ’78 GS750. If I could turn it into half of your bike I’d be thrilled, (unicycle?! lol). I’m in Milton VT, where is your shop? If I get into this I might have to start stalking you… 😉

  26. Hey Colby,

    Love the bike, man. Very cool. I’m currently building a cafe racer from a ’79 GS1000L as well and your build has been a great inspiration to me. The “L”s are a little different, even within the GS family, so it’s been really helpful seeing what you’ve been able to do with it. A few questions:

    What clip on bars did you use?
    I’m not a savy fabricator, so do you know of any company out there building/selling seats with the electrical components already built in like yours?


  27. Hi Evan,
    Thanks for the compliments and I’m glad the bike is helping you out with your GS build! I used a set of Tarozzi clip-ons for the bike, the best there are by a long shot, available here -http://www.fastfromthepast.com/clip-ons. I used the Tarozzi rear sets also, very high quality stuff.
    I don’t know of anyone building ready made seat pans with wiring included……if I had it to do over again though, I would wire the bike up using a Motogadget m-Unit…..very slick system, I used one on the Harley street tracker I just finished…..Revival Cycles carries a nice selection of the Motogadget stuff.
    The seat cowl itself would be pretty easy to build if you went with steel…….forming aluminum makes things more difficult by a thousand………..so some sheet metal and then cool paint would be easier to start with and be a good experience. Or, you could check out Dime City Cycles, they have a seat selection that will make your head spin.
    Have fun with it!

  28. The three main tubes needed to be lowered to allow the tank to sit level. Pretty simple job as long as you measure ten times, cut and weld once. You should also install a trellis on each side of the main frame tube to the outers.

  29. Hi, you have done a beautiful project here. I want to ask you if you had any problems with the fuel petcock? I can’t seem to find the rebuild kit for this bike, theres a lot of kits and new petcocks for the 80’s GS750L model but not for the 1979, do you have any suggestion? Heres a picture of my bike I just finished a week ago but a can’t use it because of this matter. https://www.pinterest.com.mx/pin/173740498108689235/

    Greetings from Morelia, Mexico.

  30. Thanks very much, glad you like the old GS. “Oldbikebarn.com” stocks the rebuild kits that you’re looking for. Or, if you want to break the bank and get a ton of fuel flowing there’s always Pingel.

  31. Hi. Nice work on the bike. I have a 79 suzuki gs750L I am working on right now and I was really impressed at clean your wiring is. Do you have a diagram you used or one for your bike?

  32. Thanks very much. That was just the stock harness cleaned up. Anything that wasn’t getting used got stripped out, anything aged was replaces, I then just re-sheathed the harness and installed.

  33. Hi Colby,

    Your project looks amazing. The style is right up my street.
    I have just bought a 1979 GS 750E and was intending to carry out a nut and bolt restoration back to original.
    The only issue is that I have just come across your site and now the Devil in me is saying “what the hell, go for it!”
    I’ve just retired from my job as an electrician and want to get into motorcycle restoration/modification. My knowledge is limited but I’m a quick learner. Should I leave it until I gain some experience or should I go for it? I think I could do a reasonable job.
    It really does look FANTASTIC!!!

    David (UK West Yorkshire)

  34. Hi David,
    Thanks very much for the compliments, glad you like the GS. I have to say though, think long and hard about altering an “E” model GS. They are getting very difficult to find in original condition, at least here in the states. But, in the end it’s your bike, these old GS’s are exceptional bikes when compared to the rest of what was available at the time, whatever you choose to do you have a good one there.

  35. Wow, that’s some extensive work…
    I want to praise and commend you for building this out of the less desirable L model GS’s vs the sporty standards, E models, or S models… I hate to see those classy bike’s get chopped up (& often ruined/abandoned/left for dead), & I’m always pushing people to build Cafe bike’s out of L models, LTD models, and other less sought after old bike’s that have a lot of the same basics.
    Good looking work. You should tune in to the GS resources for some performance mods now in terms of shocks, fork internals, fork brace, front brake “twinpot” upgrades, Wiseco K844 kit, oil cooler, series regulator-rectifier and power distribution mods/single point grounding mod, etc… these bikes have soooo much potential. A pods/pipe/rejetted 748cc SCREAMS on the upper end of the tach, but with the K844’s, and maybe even some Web or Megacycle Cams, these things are absolute street monsters!!!! Put some more “RACE” in your Café Racer!!!!
    Great bikes… thanks for sharing.

  36. Thanks very much Chuck, glad you like the bike. I agree, I to cringe when I see a nice “E” model GS, especially an early 1000 model, cut up and poorly executed. Now, that said, I would love to find a nice early 1000 E and do what Pops Yoshimura used to do to those bikes………I feel that would be more of a tribute to the bikes history and what it was/is capable of and not just building something that looks cool.
    I did in fact reach out to folks on GS Resources when building the bike………..the “O-Ring” guy was awesome!!

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