A Brief Synopsis
|The GR650X was undoubtedly Suzuki's finest
moment. Light weight, lots of power, perfect handling, excellent
economy and all the controls fell easily to hand. It was cheap,
too. Well, that's what the roadtesters said in 1986.
Leaving aside the frenzied ravings of bribed professional
liars, it's not quite that good. Not good at all, really. Compared
to modern bikes, it's fairly heavy (200kgs) and ridiculously underpowered
(40bhp). It's a 650cc, air-cooled, DOHC 180° parallel-twin with
a monoshock rear end.
This particular example started life as a parking inspector's
bike in Melbourne. After the Traffic Nazis had finished thrashing it
and declared it surplus to requirements, the bike passed through an unknown
number of owners and was crashed several times before being stored under
a house for five years. Rescued from the cobwebs and cockroaches, it needed
significant work to make it roadworthy. Most of the mechanical bits were
as Suzuki intended, if quite worn (not surprising after 95,000 hard kilometres),
but the tank and exhaust were rusted out and the brakes and tyres were shot.
There were rats living in the airbox, which was tastefully decorated with
gum leaves and chunks of well-gnawed wiring loom.
Steve bought the wreck for a pittance, christened it "Project
Shitbox" and painstakingly restored it. If that's what you'd call it.
He fixed the tank and exhaust, cleaned out most of the rat turds and
bribed corrupt officials until it was certified roadworthy. Then came
Part 2 of his evil plan: to flog the bike to work and back every day until
it died. This is taking a lot longer than he expected.
It's the perfect test bike, because if we kill it, we're doing
a public service.
Project Shitbox is, quite simply, a menace to civilised society. The
engine burns more oil than petrol, and it trails a blue cloud wherever
it goes. Despite the rubber-mounted handlebars, footpegs and seat, the whole
bike vibrates like a jackhammer. The frame seems to have an invisible hinge
in the middle. The brakes are like government workers. They do work, but
fairly ineffectually, only if they feel like it, and in their own sweet time.
The suspension goes up and down, although there is no damping to speak of
and the springs are softer than jelly. Steve replaced the tyres with the
cheapest round black things he could find. They're supposed to be made of
rubber, but they're harder than tempered diamond and slipperier than greased
lawyers. The wiring loom has been butchered several times, so sparks and
smoke pour out from under the seat regularly. It's a dog of a bike, and like
any other canine it's hard to handle, marks it's territory and loves riding
in the back of a ute. It goes like crap, but it does go. In fact, it positively
refuses to stop!