La Tigre - The rebirth of a neglected 2003 Suzuki GS250 Thunder

A long term Bali resident bought an old 2003 Suzuki GS 250cc to the Deus Temple one day. Known as a Thunder, time had not been kind to this bike as it had been made into something of an ugly duckling by people unknown, leaving this once wonderfully acquiescent motorcycle in an frustratingly wretched state.

The maddeningly rare Suzuki Thunder 250 is a sort after base on which to build a modified bike in Indonesia. Initially released in 1999, and only for the Asian market, the sport-touring Thunder came preloaded with what Suzuki dubbed its Twin Swirl Combustion Chamber (TSCC) a system whereby the fogging of air and fuel in the combustion chamber effected a twin rotation so combustion came faster and more complete. The single cylinder engine also has 4 valves (2 suction & 2 exhaust) enabling it to generate up to 22 hp at 7500 rpm. Unfortunately, they were completely discontinued in 2005 probably due to the release of the little brother, 125cc in 2004, which is rather lackluster and the rise of the Japanese Yen exchange rate making them financially unviable.

After a crystal ball's worth of foresight and a few conversations with Gianluca, the owner, we set sights on a classic upright modification, nothing to radical to ride nor to be seen on, he liked the classic English bikes, for look as well as style, in fact when we were talking tanks, he merely said… ‘something like a triumph’.

We build bikes for the rider and with Gianluca not being a massive bloke we knew ahead of time that whatever we’d be building would be something smaller and compact. Over our couple of meets we completely understood what he wanted and where we wanted to go… and ladies and gentlemen, damned if we didn’t get there with this graceful swan of a bike.

A large filled cardboard box still sits in the Bengkel of all the bits we unbolted or chopped off. The entire rear end, subframe and swingarm, the seat, the tank, the bars, electrics and a lot of what not. Or should we say, want not.

Our Bengkel Boys started the laborious undertaking of engineering all the wants. The tank, side covers, and fenders were all bashed out of fresh aluminum sheet. The new subframe was bent, cut and twisted to get just the right geometry. While that was all going on the engine was completely disassembled and sent to be vapor blasted. The finish it came back with was so nice it was decided we'd leave it mostly that way with only the two sides of the crank cases being buffed to a high polished finish.

We sourced an original swingarm and bought some adjustable Answer Gas rear shocks. An aftermarket rear disk brake was added. 17” Rossi rims, 350 back and 300 front, were laced with stainless spokes. They were shod in Shinko Trail Master E705’s, 140/80 & 130/80 respectively.

Stang High Tracker bars were adorned with switches from an XSR, the original cast Aluminum levers and a set of Hurricane Grips. There is a little Daytona Taco to track the revs, speed not being that important. Two exhaust ports mean two pipes and the Boys bent up a matching set of stainless steel headers topped with aftermarket silencers. The engine is well fed through a 32mm PWK carburetor. For riding comfort, we shaped up some foam before wrapping it in tan cow hide. A light waxing sealed it up nice and gave some warmth and depth to this, the business end of the bike.

Something of a new Deus Indo trademark is the brake light. Not for the first time, nor the last, we asked Koko to fabricate one of his organic shaped ally plate pieces that mount perfectly to the rear fender. Looking more like it was cast, they are an excellent punctuation point on any build. A 7” Day Maker in a sourced clam shell housing will ensure he sees nice and bright at night, and a set of Posh Type 71 indicators will make sure everyone else knows which way he wants to go.

For the paint, a grey metallic was chosen as the base colour, enhanced with the area of the knee panels polished to a high sheen. We added further embellishments with gold pin lines and ‘Deus Special’ detailing on the side covers. Acid etched badges were produced, painted, and polished with the shapes finally rounded to sit across the front bulge of the tank where they look amazing. Given that the list of new bits ended up being exhaustingly long, and that there isn’t any one stand out item. This build is just one of those wonderful composites of the whole coming together.

Last week we asked Gianluca if he had a name for his bike or if he wanted us to chew the backs on our pens to come up with one. ‘La Tigre’ he answered. And then there you have it, she’s called The Tiger, in Italian.