Modern inline-four muscle bikes from Japan appeal to my practical side—they’re big, comfortable, reliable and have gobs of power. My only gripe with would be that they can come across as a bit bland, visually. You can go very far, very fast, but some of them look and sound like big sewing machines.
The owner of this 2008 Suzuki GSX1400, Luke, is no tailor. But he is something of a custom motorcycle aficionado. This is the second bike he’s had built by Tom Gilroy and his team at Purpose Built Moto on Australia’s Gold Coast.
The first was a Honda CBX1000 café racer, and Luke loved it so much that he decided to give it a worthy stablemate. He was primarily using his Suzuki for touring duties, and thought it also deserved the full PBM treatment. So with the CBX to compare to, what did Luke want for his GSX?
“Our first conversation was mostly about aesthetic upgrades, some mild engine performance mods to match, and better handling to boot,” Tom tells us. “It’s hard not to improve a motorcycle when you’re cutting weight off and letting the beast breathe easier. Our plan was this: rebuild the angular subframe to create a shorter, sharper style, and pick up the design from where the CBX1000 left off.”
To kick things off, the bike was torn down. Most of the factory body parts were discarded, with the exception of the fuel tank. It was decided early on that the wheels had to be white—so with the color palette taking form, they were sent off to paint while work began on the subframe.
The back end was cut down, and a generously-padded custom Alcantara seat was ordered from Timeless Auto Trim. Longer YSS shock absorbers were fitted to new shock mounts, raising the rear of the bike and sharpening up the steering angle for a more aggressive turn-in (and look).
The front end is just as wild as the back. The white wheel and lower fork legs are set off nicely against a custom front fender that was put together using one of Purpose Built’s own fender kits.
The headlight panel shrouds a 4.5” PBM LED headlight, which acts as the high beam. The low beam setting is taken care of by a pair of small projector lights mounted to the top of the oil cooler—a nod to the CBX1000 build. The low beams also have their own shrouds, painted to match.
The headlight nacelle, rear cowling and the shrouds that protect the low beams were all hand-beaten out of a sheet of aluminum. This is a skill that Tom and the team have been working on for some time, and it’s great to see them constantly growing and evolving their repertoire.
With the front lighting assembly taking up space the instrument panel’s space, a Daytona gauge was mounted to the bar clamps. The stock bars were swapped out for set of black ProTaper Contour units, adorned ProTaper grips, PBM’s own 3-button switches, and a pair of 3” mirrors. The hydraulic clutch and brake master cylinders were upgraded to Brembo units, for extra feel and stopping power.
You may know that before Tom got into building bikes, he specialized in custom motorcycle electronics. PBM still offers all their own products for sale, and the full suite of goodies was used on this bike. From the switches up front, to the lighting and the Black Box control module under the seat, everything came from the shop’s own stash.
Tom wanted to do something special with the exhaust, so he left the stock headers in place, then fabricated a connector that snakes its way through the subframe. A custom made muffler terminates under the rear cowl, made from 3” perforated tubing with two-stage muffler packing inside. And yes—this thing howls like a banshee.
As far as engine modifications go, there isn’t much to report on. PBM fitted a new set of DNA pod filters, and treated the big Zook to a dyno tune. It now shows 107 hp at the rear wheel, with 130 Nm of torque on tap. Not bad for a touring bike, hey?
“The only thing better than looking at the bike is riding it,” explains a rather proud Tom. “The 1400 four is an absolute beast, and delivers handfuls of torque wherever you are in the rev range.”
That’s not hard to believe. The power of the inline four, together with the huge weight loss and suspension improvements must have Luke grinning from ear to ear every time he rides it. And it’s a looker too, with paint inspired by older Suzuki MotoGP bikes, laid down by Justin at Pop Bang Classics.
“We had another great experience working with Luke, turning out this blistering custom,” beams Tom. “He picked it up from our shop and rode it for seven straight hours, taking the long way home to his place on the New South Wales coast. I couldn’t think of a bloke more deserving of this custom GSX1400.”
We couldn’t have written a better ending than that.