Suzuki’s humble TU250X retro bike is cheap and cheerful and Mid Life Cycles has kits to caffeinate it
‘Built not bought’ is the essence of any cool, custom scene and bikes are no different. But going by the number of custom bike builders in business now, there’s obviously a demand for unique machines built by professionals.
You could, of course, walk into one of the many Deus stores on the planet and buy a ready-made cool creation straight off the floor, but you might be surprised by the price tag, justified or otherwise.
If you lack the tools or space to pimp your ride then you can sign up to a communal, DIY workshop such as the Kustom Kommune in Melbourne or the Rising Sun in Sydney with access to in-house experts.
If you have a vision and a modest budget but perhaps lack the time or skill then Mid Life Cycles in Melbourne can save the day with the assurance of reliability and rideability.
The Richmond-based business has created its own kits to caffeinate Suzuki’s sweet little TU250X, and you can buy them straight off the shelf to fit yourself or leave your bike with them to build your dream.
Priced from just $5990 (plus on-road costs), the standard TU250X is powered by a fuel-injected, 249cc single with the convenience of electric start. The retro bike also contains all the right ‘blank canvas’ ingredients including a bolt-on rear sub-frame to mix ’n’ match seats without getting out the angle grinder and potentially compromising structural integrity and resale value.
The TU250 is $3000 more affordable than Yamaha’s iconic – and similar – SR400, which unapologetically comes with kickstart only. The SR400 does, however, come with an enviable industry of aftermarket parts and accessories.
KIT AND KABOODLE
Mid Life Cycles offers two caffeine kits for the little Suzi, priced at $1550 and $2500.
‘Stage One’ includes a bolt-on rear frame loop, a modified seat and alloy inner guard while ‘Stage Two’ (as seen alongside the factory-standard bike) adds an alloy front guard, clubman-type ’bars, trick lighting, bar-end mirrors and a mighty muffler to unleash the thumper. Owners have a few options with the type and style of handlebars, mirrors and lights and there’s an à la carte menu of other potential modifications.
Either kit can be fitted in about a day by a competent pair of hands or Mid Life Cycles can fit the Stage Two kit for $3270 which includes parts and labour.
If that seems a lot to spend on a circa-$6500 bike, Mid Life Cycles suggests owners check what many enthusiasts have spent on rebuilding and customising older bikes that can lack the convenience, rideability – and often the reliability – of a late-model retro bike. There’s also the peace of mind knowing the bike can be returned to standard, if necessary.
BOLT ON, BOLT OFF
Mid Life Cycles somehow allowed a pair of flannel-clad ratbags to get up close and personal with two TUs – a temporarily standard example and the other flaunting a ‘Stage Two’ kit. Second-hand bikes are fine for conversion and save you money.
Each is privately owned and was sent to Mid Life for the custom treatment. The standard bike belongs to Shaun Chambers of Lake Macquarie, NSW, and is in line for the Mid Life makeover with a few additional touches requested by Shaun.
Alex Boffa of Melbourne is the master of the modified machine. If you’re a fan of what you’re seeing, then thank ‘Boffa’ (his nickname surely) because he volunteered his bike as the guinea pig for Mid Life’s café racer conversion kit for the TU250X. Onya Boff.
The first task for the Mid Life Cycles crew and ace fabricator Paul of Fabwell was to develop the rear frame loop and custom seat unit that would bolt on in place of the standard (and cumbersome) subframe, rider’s seat and pillion pad. At the same time, Paul fabricated a neat alloy rear guard to carry the main electrical components and protect them from road grime.
The standard seats, subframe, mudguard, tail-light and indicators can all be removed with a few simple tools and a little care in disconnecting the wiring for the tail-light and indicators. The Mid Life Cycles frame hoop then bolts straight on using the standard fittings.
The custom seat is modified, with a locating plate at the front and two brackets to secure the rear to the frame. The NitroHeads seat is longer and upholstered to achieve the right visual balance over the rear wheel while concealing the mounting points at the junction of the seat and tank.
OLD BULL, YOUNG BULL
The visual bulk (or lack thereof) is immediately obvious when comparing the pair. Where the young, hip example is agile, purposeful and perhaps a little brash, the original has the charm of yesteryear and does an admirable job keeping up with the modern world. A bit like the bikes really…
SPEX | SUZUKI TU250X
TYPE: Air-cooled, SOHC, single-cylinder, electronic ignition
BORE & STROKE: 72 x 61.2mm
FUEL SYSTEM: EFI
TYPE: Five-speed, constant mesh
FINAL DRIVE: X-ring chain
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
Tubular steel cradle
37mm telescopic fork
REAR SUSPENSION: Swingarm type, coil spring
FRONT BRAKE: 275mm single disc with twin-piston caliper
REAR BRAKE: Drum
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
WET WEIGHT: 148kg
SEAT HEIGHT: 770mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 12L
WHEELS & TYRES:
FRONT: 18 x 2.5-inch wire-spoke rim with 90/90 R18 Cheng Shin tyre
REAR: 18 x 2.5-inch wire-spoke rim with 110/90 R18 Cheng Shin tyre
PRICE: $5990 (plus on-road costs)
COLOURS: Pearl Black,
WARRANTY: Two years/unlimited km