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  • Bob LoCicero

Building an SV650 Track Bike: Part 3 - Assembly

Putting the pieces together and starting it up

Suzuki SV650 track bike
Jean smiles as she sits on her new SV650 track bike

Putting together a budget SV650 track bike takes time, patience and the ability to follow directions. It helps to have a budget that includes funds for the unexpected and an enthusiastic expert who can provide ready advice.

To recap, our project is building a budget track bike from a lightly crashed SV650. Our goal was to purchase the bike and retrofit it for $2,500. Our track bike builder, Jean, is working through her first major project.

The project requires disassembling and replacing approximately half of the chassis. "I didn't know anything when I started. It wasn't too hard to figure out", said Jean, "I just had to follow directions"

Upgrading from an stock SV front end to a GSXR 600 or 750 front end replaces the OEM components with a fully adjustable, track ready setup. The swap is bolt-on, meaning you do not have to fabricate components to install it.

Jean purchased forks, controls, triple clamps, bearings, steering stops, steering dampener, front fender, wheel and brakes. Used forks, triple clamps and bearings can often be found sold together on eBay. Occasionally, the entire front-end can be found as a unit, but these are harder to find.

In Jean's case, she purchased a GSXR-600 front end. The steering stops on the GSXR do not align with stops on the SV. The stops can be fabricated or purchased. Jean purchased hers from Spears Enterprises for $85.

The bottom bearing on the GSXR-600 front end is a ball-type bearing which matches the gen-1 SV setup. Jean chose the better of the two and installed that in the SV. The top GSXR bearing does not fit the SV bearing race. A $50 kit specifically made for the conversion replaces the stock SV bearing race with one that fits into the frame and is sized properly for the GSXR stem and bearing.

To make the triple clamp fit, a special washer is required. Jean searched hardware stores for the washer to avoid paying $9 for the Suzuki part. She was unsuccessful, but Miles Hubert of MotoFab generously donated one from his shop stash.

A hideous yellow fender completed the front end. "It's great! It's so ugly, I don't care if I drop it", Jean said.

The rear shock replacement was a straight swap, since the Ohlins shock was designed for the SV. "Ideally, it would have been flipped, so the hose coming off of the reservoir was on the other side", Jean said. The standard installation puts the hose on the same side as the high mount exhaust and routing it safely is tricky.

Fitting GSXR style rear-sets required the purchase of longer shifter rod, because the pegs and controls are further back. In addition, Jean converted the shifting pattern from standard to GP to better suit the bike's track orientation. Jean was able to find this part from Woodcraft. "The nice thing about Woodcraft is you can buy each part separately", she said.

Since the bike's previous maintenance patterns were unknown, Jean removed and cleaned the carburetors. The procedure required disassembling them. "I removed them both as a single unit", she said. "I disassembled one at a time and placed parts in Zip-Lock bags with labels. I took my time, because it's so precise."

Jean purchased her replacement o-rings from the hardware store, saving money and cleaned the components with a standard carburetor cleaner.

Throughout the project, Jean followed the rule of clean it now. "I'm in there, it's dirty, I going to clean it. I'm never going to able to access it again and cleaning it keeps chunks of dirt from getting into stuff"

A minimal amount of wiring was required. Jean removed the kick stand to improve clearance and save weight. The SV has a kick stand safety switch, which must be overridden by removing the switch. Soldering two wires together completes the kick stand circuit and indicates to the starting system the kick stand is up.

When it came time to start the bike for the first time, Jean was hopeful, but realistic. "I was afraid, since I had removed and replaced so many things." The bike didn't start. "I was disappointed, but not surprised", she said.

She meticulously traced through the shop manually troubleshooting procedures to find the problem: a spider had left eggs in the starter switch and pushed a piece of plastic between the contacts. After removing the eggs and plastic, the bike started on the first try.

Before her first test ride, she checked the torque of every fastener. "You're taking apart so many things - and some you might have to take apart and reassemble more than once - that it's really important to make sure you torque everything" before you ride, she said.

Her advice to those who undertake a similar project as their first: "Find someone who is enthusiastic and excited to share their knowledge" to guide you. "Take your time and have a place to work where you can leave your things out."

"It's a great way to learn about bikes. You can take all that you learn on your track bike and apply to your nice street bike. You don't have to worry about what your track bike looks like: it's all about function."


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