Perfect Ride BIG DrakeR
By Gareth Charlton - 26 Jan 15
Our Polish readership are likely very familiar with Motocykl magazine, the countries leading bike related publication. Motocykl reviews all of the latest machinery whilst keeping its audience abreast of current racing news and other bike related shenanigans. What they might not be aware of, is the pet project of the man behind the pages, Editor Piotr Ganczarski. Tucked away in his private garage in the mountains of Bielsko-Biała in the south of Poland, Piotr has been crafting motorcycles to counter the anodyne, factory fresh machines he spends his days with. This Suzuki DR800 is the first of Piotr's builds to be let loose on the mountain roads under the monicker of his new bike-building enterprise, Perfect Ride Handcrafted Motorcycles. On its release in 1987 at the Paris International Fair, the Suzuki DR 800 was affectionately referred to as "Dr Big" due to the sheer size of the thing, it remains the largest single cylinder adventure bike ever built. Everything about the bike was huge, unsurprisingly in a short time it became a cult bike and gained a new nickname, "Drake" due to the bird like appearance of its front beak. " The plan was simple: on the basis of the DR BIG create a stylish bike, not afraid of curbs, and referring in style to street tracker machines: wide handlebars, a small, flat fuel tank, spartan seat, a minimum of body and only what is necessary to be street legal." Piotr set to work on his '91 model, as well as being Editor of the magazine he is a qualified mechanical engineer, a handy sideline when it comes to bike building. He stripped the DR down to the frame, which he then modified with the customary chopping off of everything that was needless and the addition of a custom subframe. The new slimline frame was suspended on WP USD forks from a KTM EXC whilst an Ohlins shock absorber took care of damping duties at the rear. The wheels were upgraded with wider rims (17-inch rear, 18 front) and chunky tires. The fuel tank was relieved from its boring life of slow commuting aboard a Honda CG 125 and modified to fit the wider main beam of the frame, Piotr adjusted the fit and sit of the tank until he achieved a straight line with the tail section which was taken from CB 450 S and extensively modified for purpose. "The seat is made of natural cowhide and vintage leather on a custom made aluminum pan. To maintain a clean line of the bike, all cables and electric stuff goes under the seat. The cable bundles from the custom made steering buttons were threaded through the handlebar. Rear light and indicators are now LED stripes." Those of you lamenting the absence of the ugly, standard, side mounted oil cooler would find it in a trash bin in the corner of Piotr's garage. It is replaced by a smoother, subtler unit from an XR 250. The stumpy short can on the end of the wrapped pipe had to be "DB-Killed" because of the unendurable noise it produced, but Piotr reports that it now produces a more neighbour pleasing sound, similar to that of 50-years old thumpers. Piotr desired a worn, vintage look for the machine to counter its naturally fearsome attitude. The body is covered with a "strained" paint job while the frame and running gear received a coat of structural black. Tasty details were added with the use of natural materials - robinia wood and natural leather. With four other bikes awaiting Piotr's attention he will have to juggle spanner time with his day job and the desire to take the DR for a roar around his idyllic mountain surroundings. At this time Piotr refers to himself as a semi-pro builder, but he does harbour an ambitious development plan and the complete skill set to execute it. If they live up to the big DR then we certainly look forward to seeing those future four builds. We will let Piotr close with his expert review of the machine. "The bike weighs more than 30kg less than the original DR 800, and with updated suspensions its now a real curve eater. Though the seat is not very comfy and the handlebar forces you to take everything on the chest, it gives a whole bunch of fun when riding it. And that's what street trackers are all about!" There's also a video here to enjoy.