Cafe ala Carte - LS650 powered ground up custom


From streetfighters to cafe I build them all
Hello all, new to this forum but I thought I would share a few things. Here is my most recently finished build. It took way to long but that is the price of having a full time job and an active family.

If you frequent the suzukisavage forum you might recognize this build.

Also if you want to see my previous projects go to

On there I have both a two stroke cafe build from the early 1990's called Smokin Blue and my 2004-2006 build of a GSX-R1100 Street Fighter called Bad Attitude

Here is the final bike with pictures from late this fall.










Now I just need to get that tank badge done.......

The bike is named Cafe a la Carte' due to the fact I built it using selected parts from many bikes. I think I have it all totaled up now. It appears that the parts came from 19 different models.

Here is the rap sheet of components:

Engine - 1997 Suzuki LS650
Frame and Tank - 1968 Wards Riverside Mojave
Note the frame and tank were made by Benelli in Italy and represent a knock off of a Rickman racing frame.
Rims - 1973 Yamaha TX750
Front Hub - 1979 Suzuki GS750
Rear Hub - 1997 Suzuki LS650
Head Light Shell and trim ring - 1964 CB77
Note that is a brand new old stock (50 year old) OEM trim ring - rare find.
Head Light - 1983 Suzuki GR650 Tempter
Front Brake Disc - 2002 Ducati 944
Front Forks - 1993 Suzuki GS-500E with 2" over tubes by Forking by Frank
Front Fender - Aftermarket for a mid-70's Ducati 750SS
Swing Arm - 1981 Suzuki GS450
Rear Hugger - half of a 1989 Suzuki 1400 Intruder front fender
Tail lights - 2006 Suzuki SV650
Front Brake Master - 1995 Suzuki GS500E
Clutch lever and perch - 1992 Suzuki Katana 600
Triple Clamps - 1982 Suzuki GS1100
Center Stand - 1974 Suzuki GT250
Shocks - Works Performance shocks for a 1967-1972 BSA Goldstar
Seat Latch - 1996 Suzuki GSX-R1100
Shift and brake levers and pegs - 1988 Suzuki GSX-R750

yes all parts are heavily modified in some form or another other than the Ducati rotor, the front brake master and the front hub.
Re: Cafe ala Carte

Here is some history of the build for those that like details. The early history has been lost but I will post what I have.

from 2007
I am happy to say project Cafe ala Carte has finally begun. I thought some of you might be interested in seeing some of the work.

The goal of this bike is to build an ultra-clean and ultra-minimalistic 1960's style cafe bike using a Savage engine. The engine is a 1997 with 2,000 miles on it. The frame is from a 1968 Wards Riverside 260 Mojave (made by Benelli in Italy). This was a frame that was a knock off of a Rickman racing frame and orginally made by Benelli to house a 650 twin. It was a bike that never made it past prototype stage but they ended up using the frame for the Wards bikes.

My build will be in two phases. The first that I am in now is what I am calling the Title Build. To title the bike I need to take it in as a running functioning bike so this first build is a very rough fast build to get the title work going. Once I have the title in hand I will tear it down to the ground and start over and do it right.

Here is a picture of the Mojave frame.


As of November I had gotten the engine in the frame. I have modified a GS450 swing arm to fit it. The GS450 is the correct length and much stronger and better looking than the stock unit. The picture below shows the bike with a GT250 swing arm on it which I will use for this build since the GT rear wheel fits it with no mods. Eventually it will have either the GT or the Savage rear hub laced up to a polished aluminum high shouldered rim from a 1975 XS650.


In the second build I plan to cut out the swing arm pivot plates and replace them moving the pivot (and engine) down about 1" to 1-1/2". The rear shocks are currently stock Savage units, again for the title build only. I would like to put a set of gassers on it for the final build.

Here is an update of my work to put a new front end on the Benelli frame. I am using GS1100 triple clamps
because they look correct for the era and will fit the GS500E forks (37mm). The issue is the stem is too
short for the Benelli frame and I want the Savage style stem and top nut. So I had to "stretch" the stem.
Here is a photo tour of the work that took place in Dec and early Jan.

Here are the original parts. GS1100 triple on the left and LS650 on the right.


The I pressed the stems out. The LS came out nice the GS maxed out my 12 ton press. Some heat on the
triple clamp took care of it and it went with a BANG!


Here are the stems side by side with the LS on top. It takes a nut where as the GS's had a bolt.


Suzuki made one small change in the LS by having the press diameter 0.004" lager than the bearing dia.
I turned it down on the lathe to match the GS design.


The to do the stretch I was going to cut the pieces and put in a spacer.


Then face off the ends so they are square.


Then bore the ID slightly to make sure it was true and concentric with the OD.


Here is the stem cut and ready for the spacer.


Now to start on the spacer. Select one fine piece of cold rolled steel.


I turned down the OD to match and then the ID to fit in with a slip fit.


Then cut if off and do the same to the other end.


Here is the new stem pieces


Here is the stem assembled. It was then cross drilled and pinned. Once everything is final I will weld
it solid.



Next a little grease on it and into the press for assembly. No heat needed on this one. First the stem
then the bearing.



Now here is the GS1100 lower triple clamp with the newly stretched stem.


Now on to the uppers. Here are the uppers side by side. Note the small hole in the GS must be enlarged to
match the LS.


I set it up in the mill and indicated in the hole (centered it under the cutter) and hogged it with a 3/4"


Then I finished sizing it with a boring head.

Re: Cafe ala Carte

Here is the new triple clamp!


Then I pressed in the new cups and races into the frame.



Here is what it looks like now with the GS500E forks set in place.



NEWFRONTEND.JPG it is time to put some braking on this beast. I am going to use the hub that is on that rim
which is a GT250 hub (same as all the spoked GS's) and lace up a high shouldered aluminum rim when it is done.
But for brakes I will not be using the GT rotor but a larger 320mm Ducati 996 front rotor (thank you ebay! Brand new $50)

Here is a comparison of size with the stock LS650 wheel.


I will need to make a spacer to move the rotor outboard as the offset is less than I need but that will
allow me to set up two bolt patterns as there is a 2mm difference in bolt cirlce diameter between the Suzuki
hub and the Ducati rotor. But more on that in the future!!!

Until then keep the rubber side down!!
Re: Cafe ala Carte

June 2008

As of June 2008 - Progress has been very slow due to other responisibilities..(Man life can get in the way of fun some times!)

Here are pics of the adapter ring I machined to mount my new Ducati rotor. The rotor is 320mm in diameter so it is huge. With the twin piston binder I am going to put on it should about stand the bike on its nose!


Here it is mounted on the wheel.


Now here is a bike as of today.


The seat is just sitting on it but you get the flavor. I need to get bustin' on this thing so I can get it running this summer yet to get the title inspection done before winter so I can work on the real build! All in all it is coming together nicely and I think will look very sweet when finished.
Re: Cafe ala Carte

March 2009

A few people have asked me for an update on Cafe ala Carte.

It has been a while as work has had me buried since October and family life with the kids is running me ragged but I have made some progress. Things are calming down so I am starting to get seriously rolling again. Well here goes the update.

I made it through my titling late last fall. I went in for my inspection Oct 7th. It was very short notice as first I thought I had 3 weeks lead for an appointment then it as 5-6 weeks which put me into November. This can be an ugly time in Minnesota to prove a bike "can run". So I called in and all of a sudden they had an opening the next week. I scrambled to put the finishing details on it so that it would be "fully legal" bike that ran.

To understand the significance of this realize that the frame I am building this bike around is a 1968 Montgomery Wards Mojave 260 frame. That bike was actually made by Benelli in Italy and was a knock off of a Rickman racing frame. Orginally built for a 650 twing but scrapped before it came into production it came out of the factory housing undersized 260 and 360cc engines for MW in America. Now this frame that is 40 years old and has never had a title. I did have written signed history dating back to 1969 from the guy I bought it from. The DMV said bring that and all my reciepts of all parts and a running motorcycle and they would inspect it and then I could file for a title. So the initial 9 months was slamming together a bike that would run. I did not want to sink much money into it until I knew I could get a title for it. So I did what I call the "title" build. I built, not the bike I wanted but something that would run.

Nervous as all get out I showed up with all my paperwork, and my bike. Turns out the inspectors look at the title for the bike my savage engine came out of, look at my written history on the frame, write down the engine number and the frame number and checked the box that says PASS. They handed me the sheet of paper, wished me luck and sent me on my way. Never asked to have it started, never asked to see a single reciept. Whoa...out the door in 7 minutes. Took me longer to unload and load than the inspection. Far cry from some of the horror stories I had heard from others.

So this picture is of the bike last fall right before the title inspection.


Now I had to wait 7 weeks but my title finally came.....with the wrong year!!!!!!!!!!!! Feeling like I was walking on thin ice I went back to the DMV and politely told them this brand new title for a 40 year old frame was WRONG and it was THEIR FAULT. After a week of convincing them selves that my paper work did indeed say 1968 and not 1965 they asked me to return my title and issued me a new one with the correct year. My bike is now offically a 1968 Montgomery Wards! I just happens to have a 650 in it rather than a 260! :cool:

So Christmas vacation (manditory this year by the company) was spent ordering parts! here are some of my goodies......

new shocks from Works Performance. Gas charged dual rate spring Street Trackers.... sweet! These were made for a BSA650 and the guy didn't come through with the payment so Works had them on their ebay store discounted about $150

Next I ordered my fiberglass fender from Glass from the Past. Great glass at a great price...$50


Then I ordered up my digital dash. It is a Trail Tech unit kitted for a DR650 so it has the 10mm spark plug temp sensor. Got it for $101 delivered to my door from an Ebay storefront.

Here is the mid 60's head light that it will go in.


so it will look something like this once I make a billet surround for it.


next I ordered up the chain. I found an ebay store front that had this for less than half of list. I am going with a 520 oring version with 520 sprockets rather than the 530 that most have converted to. I need the narrower chain and what a weight savings! ;)


Then I ordered up my sprockets from Vortex. These are 520 width and I am going to run an Aluminum 46 tooth rear and I bought a 15T and a 16T front which are nickle plated steel. With my taller rear rim this gives me a 3% over or a 10% over stock gearing. I plan to start with the 10% over.


Then came the shipment of my Avon Roadriders.......


which brought me to the last adventure. Custom spokes for hubs and rims that never intended to come together in unity. I went to the gods of spokes...Buchanans Spoke and Rim. I am running GS750 front hub in a 19" high shouldered Takasago aluminum rim from a 1970's Yamaha XS650. These are just like the Akront racing rims of the 60's and 70's. They had all the specs on the hub and rims to make those spokes. Then came the Savage rear hub in an 18" high shouldered Takasago aluminum rim from a 1970's Yamaha XS650 and that one they had to dig on. They had seen a savage front hub before but had no specs on the rear hub. So, I sent them my rear hub from the savage and the rim off the Yamy and they made up the spokes to fit.

What I bought was Swaged 8-9 gage stainless steel spokes custom to my application. Took about a week and my spokes were on the way back to me.


I have the rear laced up and trued and the front is almost done also. Right now I am about to start machining the rear sprocket carrier from the rear hub as I need to move the sprocket inward about 1/4". I am also going to machine an 1/8" off the front spacer that rides on engine side of the counter shaft sprocket so that that sprocket moves over also. Then I will have to set the engine 1/8" off center to line it all up.

Once that is all nailed down spring should be here in Minnesota so I can get back out to the garage where my frame jig is and cut out the swing arm pivot mounts and make new ones to move the swing arm pivot down about 1-1/4".

So until the next update that is where I am at..... :)
Re: Cafe ala Carte

Ok so here is an update on Café ala Carte. I has been a slow summer with family things taking most of the time but now I am rolling again. Basically the big accomplishment is I now have a rolling chassis so I can really get down to business.

To fill anyone in that has not been following this (slow moving) project this is going to be a café bike built with a Savage engine at its heart. The frame is a 1968 Wards Riverside Mojave 360 now modified to hold the Savage engine. The Mojave was made by Benelli in Italy for Montgomery Wards which sold motorcycles during that era. The frame is mild steel however it is a large diameter tube with a frame design that was a knock off of a Rickman racing frame so it is extremely stiff.

So here we go. Here is a picture from late spring showing the basic look of the bike. Note at this point the swing arm pivots are in the their stock position. Later on these will be completely cut out and lowered 1-1/4”.


Now the first thing was to add mounting lugs for the Savage engine. There was a cross bar up front that I had to cut out and then another big one behind the rear of the engine. The front lugs were made by boring through the frame and inserting a drilled and tapped solid lug. These mounts will hold bolt on front mount tabs. They were welded in and then the outside welds ground smooth so they look integral to the frame.


The rear lower mount was made by again through boring the frame but this time inserting a tube to allow a full length cross bolt to go through from one side of the frame through the engine and out the other side of the frame.


The top engine mount was done similar to the lower with tubes inserted through the backbone tube.


Next the swing arm mount had to be lowered. This frame was designed for a Benelli 650 twin which had a very high counter shaft. Now it came to America with a 260cc or 360cc engine but it’s original intent was a 650cc twin. (Using the 650 was scrapped before it ever went into production. Eventually it did come wrapped in a new frame as the 650 Tornado.)

Many swing arm pivot plate designs were mocked up and this is the final choice.


Next new pivot mounts were turned up from 1 ½” solid stock and set in place in the frame jig


Next plates were cut from 3/16” steel.


These were welded in and here is what it looks like


Next it was on to moving the rear shock mounts outward 3/8” on both sides. Here is a picture of the old shock mounts. Note the 3/16” plate of the mount.

Instead of cutting out the old plate mounts the old studs were cut off and drilled out ..


and new section plates were fabricated to create a boxed section mount.


These were welded and ground smooth. Then new studs were fabricated and welded in place.


The swing arm is from a GS450 with the pivot tube narrowed to match the frame width. Now there was a slight clearance issue with back end of the swing arm with regards to the sprocket bolts so part had to be machined away for clearance.



Then a 0.080” thick plate was cut and formed to fill in the relieved area of the swing arm and welded in place and ground smooth.


Now I have converted the belt drive to sprocket an moved that in-board 1/8” which was about the max I could shove it toward the engine and still clear the cases. I am also moving the engine to the right in the frame 1/8” from center to allow for better chain clearance with the frame. Even with that I had to cut scallops out of the frame tubes and weld in formed plates. These were welded and ground smooth.


So here are more shots of the frame


The center stand is from a 1974 Suzuki GT250 with new mounts fabricated and welded to the frame.


Note this is a Savage rear hub laced into an 18” high shoulder (Akront style) rim off a mid ‘70’s Yamaha XS650. The spokes are 8-9 gage stainless steel spokes from Buckanan spoke. Interesting note was they had the spec’s on the front hub but had never made spokes for a Savage rear hub so I had to send them mine so they could measure it.

The sprocket is an aluminum for 520 chain. To accomodate all the movement of rear chain inboard I had to move the entire sprocket hub inward which meant machining down the center boss that spaces out from the bearings as well as the drive webs of the crush drive. This also meant the rubber crush blocks had to be thinned out.


Here is a shot from the right.


Note it has the Savage rear brake so the swing arm needed a tang welded on to for the brake arm to slide over. This gives the rear brake a very clean look.


The front wheel is a 19” high shoulder rim (again from a mid 70’s XS-650) laced to a Suzuki GS750 front hub. The forks are from a GS500E with Race Tech springs and Gold valves.


One other thing I got done was making the dash surround to hold my digital dash. This was machined by hand using a cross slide on a rotary table on a Bridgeport - not with a CNC!!


Here it is sitting in the headlight shell which is from a 1964 Honda. I chose it because not only was it time correct but it had the oval speedo opening that would just hold the digital dash.

So, now that I have a rolling chasis I can really get cranking on all the other components.
Re: Cafe ala Carte

Now onto 2013

Wow! This has been a long slow project. I have not posted for quite some time as family life and work has taken priority of my time, This project is not done but a major milestone has been reached. Café ala Carte is now on the road for shake down testing. After debug it will still need paint, polish, and powder coating.

I am currently working on jetting in my Mikuni TM36 carb which is proving to be quite a job but I am getting close. I did add a temporary O2 sensor and Air/Fuel mixture gage and that has been a huge help since the carb came way over jetted and no guidance to even start by.

I have done all the work myself except for the upholstery of the seat, the ceramic coating the header, and the fabricating of the muffler.

For now here are some current pictures.



Notice in the next picture how the header takes a nice side step around the front frame rail. Yet, from the photo after that one you can see from the side it still looks like the classic BSA header. THIS TOOK HOURS TO GET RIGHT. I made that header from J-Bends (mandrel bent blanks) where each section is cut and welded together and then the welds ground smooth. There are 8 sections that make up that header. All ground smooth and then ceramic coated in black.


The muffler is a beautiful piece of custom work done by Epco Stainless out of Ohio. They built the muffler to my design and print in polished stainless steel. It is made up of two rolled cones (so they technically have a seam in the back) and a short straight at the connection point. They fabricated it and ground out all the welds and mirror polished it. I cannot find any of the welds except for one tiny weld pit on the back side. Absolutely stunning considering a mirror finish quickly shows optically any surface waves.



Some explanation on these tail lights. Inside I have LED’s tail lights from a SV650 that have been split and laid on their side. They match the curve of the tail and point directly rearward then so it worked out. I wanted frenched in lenses so here is how it was done. Before any windows were cut in the tail, I took 3/16” thick red acrylic and heated in the oven to the softening point. Then I stretched it over the tail section in the place I was going to put them and allowed them to cool. I made 4 for each side so I would have extras. Then I cut the openings in the fiberglass tail section. From there I cut the lenses to fit. I then had to go back and heat and form 1/8” clear acrylic over the same areas so I could cut rings of it for form a flange for the inside of the lens to hold it in the tail. I bonded those rings to the lenses such that the lenses were flush with the tail. Now they fit perfectly and match the 3 dimensional curves of the tail section.


Hope you enjoyed it. I will try to update in the future as I have tons of photos of the custom work and much detailing to come.
Re: Cafe ala Carte

Ok double wow... 2015 update. This is pretty sad when my updates are 2 years apart. My spring blew up and the the summer spun by. I have finally been able to work on the final assembly of my bike.

I had it painted last fall and the frame powder coated this past winter. I spent the little time I had this summer polishing aluminum. Now finally this fall I have had time to work on the final assembly. I thought I would share some photos.

Here are the rims all polished and ready to be spoked. The hubs are powder coated black and the spokes are polished stainless spokes from Buchannan.


Here they are assembled


Here is my exhaust clamp I made. It started from billet. I machined the entire thing. Then I did some and shaping as my goal was to make it look cast. From there I had it abrasive blasted and then I sprayed it silver with GunKote.



Now back to the bike. I got the forks reassembled with my new fork tubes and powdercoated lower tubes. Also put in new bushings and seals from AllBalls.

Got them back on the bike and here are pics of the front end.



More pics to follow as I get them uploaded.

I have many more pics to upload but here are a few more..

Here is the bike this weekend ready to roll out of the basement.


Now here are some close ups of the tasty details.

custom made axle/chain adjusters.

I Machined a hole in the end of the swingarm and welded in a nut and blended out the welds. Then I designed and machined the axle carrier. The adjustment bolt is a stainless steel cap screw cross drilled for an 1/8" adjustment spanner (hardended 1/8" pin) that is used to turn the bolt. Then lock it down with the SS lock nut.


here is the other side


Here is the shifter side rearset.


I the rearset is custom machined. The lever, peg carrier, and peg are from a 1988 GSX-R750

The brake side rearset was a little more involved. I used a matching 1988 GSX-R750 brake lever parts but had to machine the back side to accept a second piece that came up and formed the lever arm to actuate the cable pull.


and here is another shot of the exhaust clamp on the engine.


Here is the engine with a complete set of polished SS cap screws in place of all the rusting stock hex head bolts.


I have a couple more photos for you with details of the build. Here is a POV shot of handlebars. I did not want the area cluttered up with switch gear so I had to find a new place for what I needed to keep.


In building this bike I stripped out a lot of the electricals. it is pretty much down to the bare bones. I had to keep the hi low beam switch and the starter switch. So here is what I did. I used the old Honda head light switch (see the black switch on the head light below) and rewired the internals of it slightly. The switch is my head light high beam, low beam, and off. I also had to find a place for the starter button. The silver very low profile switch on the right side of the head light shell is the starter button. It originally was a high beam indicator but I used the spot for the starter switch.


Lastly this is one of my favorite shots. I love the flow of the bike from such an odd low angle.

Re: Cafe ala Carte

Thanks guys! It was a long build but I was very happy the way it turned out. Still need to get that tank badge done.
Re: Cafe ala Carte

If you have a picture of the underside of tail lights to get a better understanding on how you did them, would be great.
What do you have in mind for the tank badges?
Re: Cafe ala Carte

Which part of the lights do you want to see? The lights themselves or the lenses in the tail section?

Not sure exactly what I want to do on the badges.
Re: Cafe ala Carte

How they attach to the seat itself.
You are very talented!!!!!
Sorry for the delay, I had to dig up some old photos on the subject.

Here is how I did the tail lights. I found that the SV650 lights had a slight curve to them that when laid on its side matched the curve of my tail section. This allowed the lights to face straight back just rotated 90 degrees from how they are set up on the SV.


I then used a dremel with a cut off wheel to split the weld of the lens to the body


Here it is opening



With the reflector removed


Note the stock wiring in the pic below


I hadn't counted on 7 individual boards wired together. I assumed it would be one board up each side. So at this point I had to make a decision. I decided to cut each board. But I had to cut each half leaving the screw to reattach it to the black backing. This meant one side to the screw and the other side would not have one. At this point I had to buy a second light so I could do the same to that one and have a set of boards with backing that still had the mounting screws. Now had 14 individual boards and two back pieces. Likewise I split the reflectors. Then had to jumper each cut board so the circuit was complete again. You can see this in the pic below.

At this point I also bolted them back to back so that they would form a V shaped assembly.


I built mounts then on the frame to hold this assembly right above the rear tail loop.


From here I formed the lenses for the tail section and then cut the openinnings in the tail to line up with the lights. The lenses were cut and fitted into the tail section.

I have the seat and tail section bolted together so if I pop the seat the entire tail comes off leaving the lights on the frame.

That all make sense?
That tail light setup is slick as dog shit. Really like the way you did that. Of course its only fitting for the rest of the bike, the whole thing is super clean.
Thanks Pan1 !

if you want to see another very clean build I did check out my old street fighter in this link

and for many more details go to my website at and click on the Bad Attitude link.
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