Custom-Made Suzuki DR650 Trades Off-Roading Prowess for Elegant Looks

Custom Suzuki DR650 11 photos
Photo: 485 Designs via Pipeburn
Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650Custom Suzuki DR650
Needless to say, the DR650 from Suzuki is by no means flashy nor particularly enticing as far as aesthetics are concerned. This utilitarian nature is arguably what makes it such a great motorcycle, though, as you can be sure it won’t let you down when the going gets tough.
Its torquey 644cc single-cylinder engine is next to indestructible, but a curb weight of just 366 pounds (166 kg) is not to be sneezed at, either. Some would go as far as saying the Suzuki DR650 is the gold standard of the dual-sport segment, despite remaining mostly unchanged throughout its lengthy production run. However, it’s not just adventure riders or dual-sport aficionados who dig this thing.

The DR650 gets a lot of love from the custom bike community, too, and that really doesn’t surprise us given its bulletproof reliability and versatile nature. Countless people, from amateurs to professionals, have had a go at customizing Suzuki’s rugged workhorse to varying degrees of success, but we’d say the guys at 485 Designs did it better than most!

Operating right outside Denver, Colorado, 485 Designs is a two-man venture run by Nick Mercer and his teammate Nik Esposito. Their main specialty is exhaust fabrication for both motorcycles and sports cars, though what we’re here to talk about are the duo’s mesmerizing custom projects. Without further ado, let’s dive in and see what’s up with their DR650-based stunner, shall we?

For starters, the first thing you may notice is that 485 didn’t go down the scrambler route like so many other builders. They instead did away with the donor’s off-roading capability altogether and turned it into a much sexier machine with supermoto vibes. Now, the DR650 was many things and visually attractive wasn’t one of them, but all that changed following this makeover.

Custom Suzuki DR650
Photo: 485 Designs via Pipeburn
To get the ball rolling, 485’s bright minds took the bike apart and didn’t think twice about ditching its factory bodywork in its entirety. Then, the boys amputated the stock subframe to make way for a custom alternative fabricated from scratch. It’s just long enough to accommodate a two-up saddle, and we see a flush-mounted LED lighting strip integrated into the rearmost portion of the tubing.

As for the aforementioned seat, it was put together in-house using black upholstery and gold stitching for contrast. Right in front of it lies the repurposed fuel tank of a Kawasaki KZ model – one of just two bodywork components on this DR650. The other is a custom, high-mounted fender attached to the bottom triple clamp, but 485 Designs added no such protection against road debris at the opposite end.

A state-of-the-art LED headlight enables the creature to see where it’s going after sundown. Little to no OEM equipment is left in the cockpit, which was outfitted with an abundance of aftermarket bits and pieces during the overhaul. Digital instrumentation, an orange ProTaper handlebar, and bar-end turn signals are a few of these components.

The upgrades covered thus far are all top-notch, but just wait until you see what 485 did to the running gear. They spiced up the DR650’s suspension with a premium pair of inverted forks taken from a GSX-R, and these alone would make a world of a difference for its on-road handling. What’s more, the Gixxer's forks were transplanted along with its twin-disc braking system to really dial everything all the way up to eleven.

Custom Suzuki DR650
Photo: 485 Designs via Pipeburn
Floating aftermarket brake rotors from Galfer were mated to the GSX-R's Tokico calipers, and a new disc can also be seen at the back. Then there’s the motorcycle’s delicious footwear – a set of laced 17-inch hoops supplied by Warp 9 Racing, with grippy Michelin rubber hugging their rims. The build was coming together very nicely with all these goodies installed, but there were still a couple of aspects the lads needed to address.

Even though the bike’s 43-hp thumper was left pretty much unchanged internally, it only made sense for the exhaust specialists at 485 Designs to come up with some fresh pipework. As we mentioned earlier on, this is their primary area of expertise, and the stainless-steel exhaust system worn by the DR650 makes that fact abundantly clear.

It snakes its way back to a tiny muffler low down on the right-hand side, keeping visual bulk at a bare minimum as it does so. Last but not least, this specimen’s color scheme is an outright masterpiece in and of itself, even if there’s nothing overly complex about it. Its rims and rear brake fluid reservoir feature the same orange hue as the handlebar.

On the other hand, the gas tank was painted gloss-black and finished off with gold pinstripes, turning it into a perfect match for the saddle we talked about earlier. Black paint also made its way onto the swingarm, upper forks, and front fender, while exposed metal is the name of the game for the subframe and engine covers.
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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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