Check out this custom GSX-R1000 big bore built from just a frame and wheels.
Sam Myers is no stranger when it comes to building jaw dropping custom motorcycles, and his 2002 Suzuki GSX-R1000 is a testament to that fact. Not one part of the bike, from the eye-catching body work to the big-displacement engine, has gone untouched. It is quite simply a machine that you could spend hours looking over and still not catch all the intricate details – and all of that happens before you even start up the engine.
Myers, of Sligo, Pennsylvania, has been into motorcycles since he was eight years old. His first bike, a 1985 Honda XR80 dirt bike, sowed the seed for a life-long interest in fast two-wheeled machines. However, simply riding the bikes wasn’t satisfying enough. No, he wanted to see what made them work. He wanted to get his hands dirty, take them apart, and rebuild them to be better than before. “I just found motors very interesting, how everything worked inside an internal combustion engine, it just fascinated me as a young child,” says Myers.
This isn’t to say it’s all been sunshine and butterflies when it came to rebuilding engines. No, Myers is a graduate of the school of hard knocks. “I simply self-educated myself over the years from trial and error. It did cost me a few motors at a younger age because I didn't really know what I was doing and I was trying to teach myself. The XR80, which was my first bike, broke down and I tried to rebuild it myself. It only ran for about 5 minutes and jumped timing and trashed the whole motor. It was a very disappointing time for me, being such a young kid. It was my first rebuild, but I didn't let it discourage me. I pushed forward and kept trying to learn more,” recounts Myers.
And learn more he has.
You see, the first-generation Suzuki GSX-R 1000, originally released for the 2001 model year, was a techno-marvel in its day. The bike made most anything that came before it, save for the first-generation Yamaha YZF-R1, look almost prehistoric. It sported an all-aluminum perimeter frame, inverted forks with titanium nitride stanchions, six piston brake calipers, fuel injection, and streamlined bodywork. The bike tipped the scales with a scant dry weight of 375 pounds. This lightweight package was paired with a 12,000 RPM screamer inline-four engine that netted a crankshaft-rated 160 horsepower and 81 lb-ft of torque. It could be said that this was a seriously high-performance bike right out of the box.
The quest to eek more power out of an already radical machine takes not only determination, but quite a lot of mechanical knowledge and skill.
The build started when Sam came across a bare frame for sale. That’s right, just a frame. Okay, so it came with wheels too, but that’s it. “That didn't bother me though as I already had the mindset I was custom building it all anyway so I figured this would be a cheaper way to get started,” says Myers. This blank canvas was just the ticket to get the creative juices flowing.
Visualizing what you want the end result to look like is a huge factor in successfully completing a motorcycle build like this. As Myers found out, that initial vision tends to change a bit once you get going: “To be honest when the project first started, my main goal was appearance more than performance. As time went on, though, the performance aspect started to get me, so I decided I had to build a big motor for it.”
As it turns out, Myers didn’t just build a motor, he built an absolute powerhouse.
Myers sourced a stock 988cc engine from a 2002 GSX-R 1000 and then immediately disassembled it. Maximum power and responsiveness was priority number one.
The cylinder casing was sent to Millennium Technologies in Wisconsin to be bored out to 1071cc and then the cylinder walls were re-plated in Nickel Carbide Silicone. Myers had the cylinder head sent down to KWS Motorsports in South Carolina where a full port and polish was performed along with a complete valvetrain overhaul.
The crankshaft was the next engine component to get the performance treatment. A.P.E. in California put the crank on a diet by precisely machining away mass and removing the counterbalance gear. They then gave it a thorough balancing to ensure a smooth-revving engine. The finished product is said to be as light as the crankshaft in the new BMW S1000RR. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
With the major engine modification work completed, Myers set out to reassemble the engine utilizing the best parts available. Yoshimura camshafts were dropped into the cylinder head with adjustable timing gears. Carrillo H-Beam connecting rods were fitted and were fastened up with SPS connecting rod bolts.
Next were the pistons – which in these applications must deal with the increased heat and stress found in high-strung, high-RPM superbike engines like the GSX-R’s. Myers decided to go with Wiseco pistons, part number 4819M07600. These pistons are 3.0mm overbore and feature 13.5:1 compression. The pistons are fully forged aluminum and come with a deburred brushed dome done by a propietary Wiseco brushing process. Forged pistons give you the added strength and reliability needed when dealing when high RPM engines such as this one.
“I chose Wiseco pistons for this build as Wiseco is one of the leading brands in the piston world. I run Wiseco pistons in all of my race quads as well. They keep their products to very strict tolerances and exhibit high quality control. Their products are just unbeatable in my opinion,” says Myers.
With the engine bolted back together, it was time to get down to business making the bike look as good as it could go.
Find Wiseco pistons for your bike or any other project here.
The Frame & Bodywork
The cosmetic features on this bike are what grab your attention and never let it go. The journey to making this bike stand out from the crowd all started with the bare frame. “The very first thing I started with was polishing the main frame. I hand sanded and polished the entire frame which took forever doing it myself but it was the very first step I did. The main frame itself is the only part that is polished aluminum, everything else is chromed.” And by everything, he means everything. It was all shipped off, from the swingarm bolt to the subframe, to Classic Components and South Bay Chrome, both located in Southern California, to have the chrome plating performed.
A C&S Custom swingarm, featuring a length of eleven inches over stock, was installed to assist in getting the engine’s massive power to the ground. To top off the frame reassembly, new bearings, seals and bushings were fitted to ensure the bike would have a tight and composed feeling while riding.
The fairings and gas tank were given the color treatment to finalize the appearance of the bike. However, finding the right color wasn’t an easy task, as Myers explains, “I looked through hundreds of color chips from various companies before deciding which color I wanted to go with. I wanted a color that would really set it off. I finally landed on this color which is called ‘Tangerine Pearl Coat’. We then added a slight twist to it, putting various other pearls of different colors in the paint. It really screams out in the sunlight, very sparkly.”
Fulfilling a Dream
A build as involved as Sam Myers’ GSX-R 1000 does not come easy, nor by accident. It must be something you crave – a goal that you have longed for. “Building a fully custom bike was something I always dreamed of doing,” says Myers. “One of the biggest challenges of this project was the motor build. It took so long sending pieces out all over the country and waiting to get each piece done and then get it back and finally put it all back together.”
However, there are triumphs in the build process that help offset difficulties endured. “One of the parts I’m most proud of on this bike would have to be all the chrome work and the paint job,” Myers explains. “I spent all that time and labor hand polishing that frame and so it really makes me proud. Every time I pull in somewhere, people admire it. No matter where I take it, people comment on all the chrome or the amazing color.”
A build such as this doesn’t simply happen overnight. It’s perseverance and vision that will see someone through to the end. “If I had any advice for anyone that is thinking of starting a bike build like this, it would be to never give up. Sometimes it seems like it will never end, or the cost is just overwhelming, but you must keep pushing forward and stay focused on the main goal, which is finishing the project so you can someday enjoy it,” Myers encourages. “My bike is proof that your average guy can build the bike of his or her dreams with hard work and dedication.”
If that’s not pure inspiration to take on a motorcycle build of your own, then I don’t know what is.
Photos and information courtesy of Sam Myers.