Suzuki GS500 Scrambler

I built my scrambler! 🙂


I had the chance to have some free time last August and since I like DIY projects, I spent 10 days to work over a period of one month and build a scrambler from a Suzuki GS500E.

Here is how I ran my little project…

The Idea

Before starting the build, I had spend quite a bit of time looking at bikes and custom online. I fairly quickly settled for a GS500, firstly because it is a very popular bike and secondly because it can be transform at very low cost…

I was very lucky to find someone who went through this journey before and already shared his experience: 2005 GS500F Scrambler Project.


Then, I also found other GS500 scramblers on Pinterest I could use as models.


Finally, the GS500 being a spanish built bike, there are few shops specialised into custom build in Spain, such as Herencia Rides.


The Build

From the idea, I found a 2005 GS500E for $2500 and I set a budget limit of $4000, bike and tools included!

The Beginning

Here is what the bike looked like when I picked it up…

As on the pictures, it was a stock GS500E with 35K km on the clock, few scratches here and there but in a fairly decent condition for its age.

Dismounting fairing

The first step was to dismount the seat and rear fairing of the bike. This was a pretty simple task more particularly on my bike as few bolts and nuts were missing at the back near the license plate…

Cutting & Welding

Then came the time to cut the frame!

This was really biggest transformation for the bike which required me a little help from one of my dear neighbours who happened to have all the equipment for his work 🙂

GS500 rear frameIMG_1003

I had spent a good amount of time looking for a rear loop but I could not find the right size and diameter for the GS500 frame. I ended up buying 2x 25mm half bends and welded them together. The end result of the tube welded on the rectangle frame of the bike is pretty nice, I was really happy with the result!

Many thanks to my neighbour on this!

Seat Base

Once welded, I continued by building the seat base with resin and fibreglass sheets.

I layered 7 sheets of fibreglass to get a base about 5mm thick and very solid.

I used a 1kg Large Fibreglass Kit and some additional woven clothes.

  1. woven clothe
  2. fibreglass chopped matting
  3. fibreglass chopped matting (nuts installed)
  4. woven clothe
  5. fibreglass chopped matting
  6. fibreglass chopped matting
  7. woven clothe

I finished the top with a big layer of resin to get a clean glassy effect.

Here, I really followed what Joester41 did on the GStwins forum….

For the nuts, I simply welded nuts on spacers on which I had made some holes previously to allow the resin to hold them tight!

Paint Work & Rear Fender

Paint work! I must say, I always had mixed feelings about aerosol paint work and this time again, I screwed up the first try on the frame :/

I painted it before making the seat base and I most likely put too much paint which ended up taking ages to dry… and as such, I made a first mistake to put my thumb on the rear while trying the rear fender, and then a second mistake when setting up the blue tape (see pictures) to shape the seat base. The tape got glued on the fresh paint.

I had to do it all again, but this time, I made sure to apply thin layers and waited few of days before touching it again! 🙂

If I had to do it again, I would spray only when I am done with other mods around the frame (rear fender setup, license plate, etc.).

I used 3 different types of paint:

  1. Super Etch Primer – very thin layer (like mist) directly on the steal to avoid corrosion
  2. Motospray One Step Primer Putty – a thick layer (the white paint on the picture above)
  3. Satin Black Spray – 4-5 thin layers

Now, here is where I did not follow what Joester41 did: I kept the battery, air filter and fuses at their original position. I initially looked for building a new aluminium battery box like he did, but it turned out to be difficult to find someone to build it and quite expensive.

I wanted to keep things simple, so instead, I trimmed the original rear fender as shown on the pictures above, and built a fuse box to hide the electrical components on the right side of the bike.

Fuse Box

I could not move the fuses inside and keep the fender at the same time. I saw many other projects online, just removing the fender and hiding the electrical components, but I was concerned about getting dust, mud and other debris under the seat and on the engine. So, for lack of better option, I simply built a box in fibreglass and resin which is held in place with 2 belts I found on $5 hand bags 🙂

It makes the job and doesn’t look too bad!

I also ended up reusing one of the hand bags with 3 button studs to hide the left side and other electrical components…

Electrical components on left side

License Plate, Signals & Brake Lamp

For the rear plate, I first looked at bikes on the web and then online stores. I got signals on ebay and the rear brake from Third Gear.

I then used a scrap steal plate 3mm thick that is bolted on the frame and a stainless steal angle bracket to hold the signals.


That was a headache until I found Mona Vale Motor Trimming! I searched on the web for a café seat that would fit the GS frame with no luck. There was always something wrong: too short, too wide, etc. They shaped the foam and trimmed the seat for me in a couple of days with a great result and a great price 😉

After discussion with Owen, I quickly settled for diamonds and 2 types of vinyl. Again, here the result is pretty awesome 🙂

Big thanks to Owen and his son!

Front Fender

As for the rear and most of the built, I wanted to keep things simple and affordable!

So, I trimmed the original front fender and used 40mm tubes to lift it up and allow the new front tyre to fit in.

Handlebar & Grips

The handlebar was old and rusted, I got a cruiser touring handlebar from Third Gear. The paint work is pretty fragile, but once setup it’s pretty nice and for that price I can’t really complain!

I bought the hand grips on ebay… The setup was a bit awkward as I ended up reusing the original throttle tube.

Exhaust Wrap

Another fun job: setting up the exhaust wrap!

I used 2x 5m tan wrap from Third Gear to cover the GS exhaust. Since, it is a twin cylinder it needs a good length, I used it all.

Handlebar, grips and exhaust wrap

There are plenty of “how to” videos online about this. Long story short, wear gloves, long sleeves and eye protection, they are made of fibreglass! It was a bit of a pain!

Front Fork

For the last job, I decided to paint the front fork in black and for this, I used a can of plasti dip rubber coating. I sprayed 5 thin layers for a great result, waiting about 2 hours between the layers for a better grip.


Finally, the tyres!!! This is obviously a big part of a scrambler project. After discussion with one of my friend who happens to be a motorcycle mechanic, he recommended me the Heidenau K60 Scout tyres. They are great looking tyres, well made for road and off-road and with a strong reputation.

  • Front 120/90-17
  • Rear 130/80-17

They made such a big difference, more particularly on the front, filling in the gap with the fender!

140 would likely not fit at the rear (130 is actually 135mm)…

The only lesson learnt is while the rear tyre is tubeless, the front requires a tube!

The Result

In the end, I was able to build my own scrambler project in 10 days of work and stay on budget!

GS500 Scrambler Budget Summary

I am very happy with the result, as you can see on the picture below, it made quite a difference on GS…

GS500 before and after the scrambler build

Obviously, as for any DIY project, you can always make more mods… At this stage, I very happy and want to ride it!

As an Agile Coach for living, there were 3 things that really stood out during the build:

  1. Keep it simple! The fuse-box is the perfect example where there were several options, but none of the others were satisfactory to me, either to complex and expansive or required to remove the rear fender, this is why I came up with the simplest solution I could find: keep the fuses where they are and hide them!
  2. Value first: focus on the changes that brings you to your goal – keep it lean. There are always lots more mods you can do on a build project but then, it’s a matter of time, cost and the added value is not necessarily great. How many times did I hear: “you need to change that yellow colour!”…
  3. Keep it running. I tried to finish the big mods one at a time, so that I kept focus and did not immobilise the bike for too long. In the end, it was immobilised for 2 weeks from the cut of the frame to the setup of the new seat.


In my wish list:

  • I will install a new exhaust which is sitting in a box in my garage!
  • Headlight grid
  • New mirrors


I recently added decals on the tank to beef it up!

Note: the yellow colour hasn’t changed!

35 thoughts on “Suzuki GS500 Scrambler

  1. Hi Johan,
    I love the bike you’ve made here! I’m doing a similar project and was wondering if you could tell me more about your rear loop? What diameter where the two half bends you used? And did you use slugs to weld it?

    1. Hi Hamish,
      Thanks for your message 🙂
      I used 25mm tubes and welded them altogether.

  2. Great build and write up! I am inspired to do likewise. Did you register your bike then mod it? Does it pass slips in its current format?

    1. Hi Simon, thank you for your comment and happy that you like it 😁
      The bike was already registered when I did it, so since then I only had to renew it with a simple slip check…
      She passed without any issues – it’s mainly about front and rear light, signals, horn, brake and overall condition. But I guess it depends where you are located. I believe it is also easier if you have your full license…

  3. Peter Coxshall 27/09/2018 — 16:43

    Hi Simon. I have just bought a GS 500F, and your project has opened an option should I get bored with it as it sits. I could simply change it to what you have done or something similar, thereby giving me a new riding experience cheaper than changing bikes altogether. Thankyou for such a well documented journey of change to your ownership experience.

    1. Thanks for your message,
      Johan 😉

  4. Peter Coxshall 10/10/2018 — 12:16

    Hi Johan. On looking at your finished bike again, am I right in thinking you have the direction of the front tyre the wrong way around, or is the front direction peculiar to Hiedenau?. I have shown the pics of before and after to some mates who are very impressed as am I. We may be doing a collective project similar to yours. I think you’ve started something here. Well done.

    1. Thanks Peter!
      You might be right with the tyre, the guys set it up for me, I did not think about that, but I can see on pictures online it should be the other way around 🤔

      1. Johan, I’m by no means an expert, but I think on bikes with scrambler type wheels, the front tire is placed with the tread on backward because it supposedly helps with stopping power. You should double check this but I remember reading that on someone else’s build. Great job, bike looks amazing! Inspired me to give it a shot.

      2. Hi Sean, yeah, you guys are right, I checked on few forums and comments about the K60… I’ll get it swapped soon!
        Thanks for the comments 🙂

  5. Nice build, but 400 for the tires ?!

    1. Up to you mate to choose tires 🙂

  6. Very nice! I am getting ready to do the same thing with my sons GS500. So happy I found your blog
    Question: That is the stock front rim with a rear tire size. Correct?
    Example. The bike currently has a rear tire size 130 /70-17. Did you just place the same size tire on the front stock rim?

    1. Happy that you like it!
      Yes, it is the original front rim with a rear tire. Mine also had a 130/70-17 road tire before the upgrade.
      As you can see in the post the front tire is a 120/90-17 and rear 130/80-17, I don’t think a bigger tire would fit at the back…

    2. There isn’t much options of front tires on 17 rim with Heidenau
      Might be worth also checking other similar brands… but I am pretty happy with them so far!

  7. Excellent. Thanks. I’m sure I’ll have more questions as I progress. Not sure I can match your craftsmanship, but will give it a go.

  8. Sweet! Where did u get that tank decal?

    1. Thanks! I bought simple black decals on ebay and ordered custom Suzuki white decals on the web.

  9. Hi Johan I’ve just bought a GS500 and the main thing I’d like to do is remove side fsirings. In your opinion how could you just take them off and leave the original seat there?

    1. Hi, the fairings are easy to remove. But I remember well the rear lights and the seat mechanism are attached to the fairings, so you will have to find a way to keep all this working.
      There are quite a few pictures of GS without fairings on Pinterest, you should have a look and also check on website.

      1. hi thanks for info – will check out pinterest

  10. Joseph Dantay 23/11/2019 — 13:20

    Johan I’ve been really, wondering how to hid the electric part on the side and I like your idea for the box. How did you make it? Was it hard and how can I do it myself?

    1. Hi Joseph, it wasn’t hard. I used an old plastic box as a base for the resin and fibreglass. Once sanded and painted, I was able to attach it with belts to the frame.
      The result is quite alright and much simpler than moving the electric component under the seat…

  11. Johan – this is so great! Planning a winter rebuild of an ‘05 GS500F. The seat/electric box is exACTly what I was looking for! Also love what you did with the handle bars, forks, fender, exhaust tape. I’ve got to deal with an ugly front fairing, plastic headlight assembly & convert to just a headlight/instrument panel. Shouldn’t be too difficult. Really appreciate your efforts here – blog/site/pics/story – that took some time too! You so made my day, mate! Maybe I’ll take before/progress/after pics as it unfolds. I’m in no rush, so plan to chill, take my time, do it right. Curious – were there many/any special tools that you really needed to purchase? I’m planning to make it a game of frugal cost as well… 👍

    1. Hi, thank you for warm message.
      It is a fun build!
      Check on GStwin for more builds. The one linked in my blog is also based on a GS500F and he went through the whole process with the fairing.
      One my friends also built a cafe recently and posted it on GStwin…
      I did not have to use specific tools. For me, the most delicate job was the welding. But if you have this handy, it should be no problem.

  12. I’ve been looking at dual sport tire options for the GS500. I’m thinking about using a 120/90-17 rather than the stock 110/70-17. One thing I noticed was that this would affect the speedometer as it is attached to the front wheel, right? Has this caused any issues for you?

  13. Hi Johan,
    Love the set up, in fact I just bought a gs500 that someone has modified in almost exactly the same way (only clear difference is the tyres.)

    The problem is the way the licence plate has been mounted it hits against the back wheel (in fact it just fell off.)

    Do you have any ideas for mounting it in a more sensible manner?

    Cheers, Olly.

    1. Hi Olly, thank you for your message. My plate is quite solidly attached to a metal plate screwed to the frame under the seat. As you can see here:
      The setup was quite simple and I used scrap metal parts I had remaining so it did not cost much…

    2. Is your seat much shorter than on my bike? Mine is a 2 seater

  14. Eric Dreibelbis 22/11/2020 — 11:15

    Hello , the bike looks great ,

    Doing something similar as well .
    Why is it that the front tire needs a tube ?

    1. For some reason, this size needs one not too sure why. Could be because it’s a rear / front tyre ?

  15. Now you really inspires me and given me idea on what to do on my old bike!

    1. Thanks Jason, glad it inspires you!

  16. Where’d you get that tank decal? I’d love to know

    1. I ordered car black decals on ebay and then late the white letters on a local site in Australia

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