This featured motorcycle is what finally turned talk into action and resulted in Retro Write Up’s existence. We often spoke about the lack of international visibility of South African built custom motorcycles and how we should do something to rectify the matter. Talk is cheap over a few beers. In October 2012 this motorcycle was featured on Return of the Cafe Racers, an Australian website. It was the first South African creation that we had ever seen featured beyond our borders. Marnitz decided to start the blog and asked me to join him in sharing our passion and our country’s custom motorcycles with the world.


The Suzuki GS450 sold in volumes in 1980 in South Africa. It was a boom year for all motorcycle sales and the GS450 had very little competition in the light commuter twin cylinder class. Other Japanese manufacturers were making smaller capacity twins, more suited to delivery use, or bigger four cylinder motorcycles. The GS pumped out 44hp and was capable of accelerating rapidly to a top speed in excess of 160 km/h. Although very popular back then, they were never perceived as objects of beauty or desire – people like Michelle and the crew at V Custom Cycles have changed that perception.

Michelle is an architectural student and her flair for design is apparent in her GS450 cafe racer. V Custom’s execution is sublime. The look of the motorcycle has changed from daily commuter to cafe racer sexy. The new tail piece and seat give the standard tank flowing lines which it never had originally. Powder coated wheels and blacked out elements contrast with the matt pearl white paint job with the performance enhancing red stripe.
Clip-on handlebars and bar-end mirrors give the racer look. Large gauges with all the idiot lights have been replaced by two simple, small gauges. Sound effects are provided by a pair of wrapped open shorty exhausts.
The difference between a good custom and an excellent custom is in the finer detail. The red piping finishes off the seat, the gators complete the forks, the stripe enhances the paint work. The number 278 on the tail piece pays tribute to Steve McQueen as this was his racing number. Some may say that this number should only be used on a Triumph. We think Steve would have felt honoured to have his number on Michelle’s Suzuki.