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Thread: 81' GS550 Cafe Racer Kickstart Retrofit

  1. #1
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    Mar 2020
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    Default 81' GS550 Cafe Racer Kickstart Retrofit

    whats up guys. I just recently bought an 81' gs550 as a project bike. always loved to be able to kickstart my bike but as everyone knows Suzuki stopped with kickstarters in 80' SO, the stupid question, does anyone know if you can add pre 80' gs550 kickstart parts to a post 80' gs550? Like clutch cover, kick lever, spring, kickstart shaft, and the other gear thingy?

    I know some of you will just laugh at this retrofit but apparently the mold of the crank case is the same as the post 80' models so in theory it should work right? All of the threads that I have read, they all say the same thing, but nobody seems to know or if they got it to work or not. If not, then no big deal i'll stick with electric start. but having a kicker on a cafe racer is so cool. also the electric starter on mine failed so i gotta buy a new one anyways to even get it to start.


    gs 550.jpg

  2. #2
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    Oct 2012
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    Default

    Lot of work, but I believe it can be done.
    1980 GS550ET

  3. #3
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    Sep 2012
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    Same applies to the 79 and 80 850s - a kickstart retrofit is on the cards for mine, as the 79 bike currently hosts an 80+ engine, and I've got all the bits out of the original lump sitting in boxes.
    ---- Dave
    79 GS850N - Might be a trike soon.
    80 GS850T Single HIF38 S.U. SH775, Tow bar, Pantera II. Gnarly workhorse & daily driver.
    79 XS650SE - Pragmatic Ratter - goes better than a manky old twin should.
    92 XJ900F - Fairly Stock, for now.

    Only a dog knows why a motorcyclist sticks his head out of a car window

  4. #4
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    I have no idea whether it's possible or not, but there MUST be a reason that nobody has reported doing it.

    .

    mine: 2000 Honda GoldWing GL1500SE and 1980 GS850G'K' "Junior"
    hers: 1982 GS850GL - "Angel" and 1969 Suzuki T250 Scrambler
    #1 son: 1986 Yamaha Venture Royale 1300 and 1982 GS650GL "Rat Bagger"
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    ohio
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    I suppose the easy way would be to stick an earlier engine in the frame. I bet you could find an earlier, kickstarting engine and either put it there complete, or, take it apart and use the parts to build what you want. Look around.
    Expecting the Spanish Inquisition
    1981 GS850G: the Ratzuki
    1981 Yamaha SR500
    1981 GS1100E

  6. #6
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    It has been done, and written about on here. Doing it from scratch would be a bit of a pita, having to find the increasingly rare bits, but as I said I have the bits from 1979. From my own recollection when I replaced the 79 lump I looked at the possibility of swapping the kick start over, but time was pressing and I didn't bother. I know that it's not that onerous a task, though.
    The later casing has the boss where the kickstart would go, but it's easier to use the proper one, factory drilled for the job.
    However, I know nothing of the 550. The OP is on his own for that one.
    ---- Dave
    79 GS850N - Might be a trike soon.
    80 GS850T Single HIF38 S.U. SH775, Tow bar, Pantera II. Gnarly workhorse & daily driver.
    79 XS650SE - Pragmatic Ratter - goes better than a manky old twin should.
    92 XJ900F - Fairly Stock, for now.

    Only a dog knows why a motorcyclist sticks his head out of a car window

  7. #7
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    Mar 2020
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    Thank you for all of your replies. I took a look at the bike today. took of clutch cover and looked inside behind the flywheel, and just as I thought, there is a place where a kickstart shaft would sit and its apart of the molding itself so i'm assuming when Suzuki decided to change over to electric start only they didn't bother to change the mold design on the block at all. Seems to me all they did was manufacture a clutch cover with no kickstart shaft hole and left out all of the kickstart components, gears, spring ect.

    The threads that I have been able to find on the subject always end the same. With the original user not updating the thread, which is super annoying. One user said he bought a 79' clutch cover and kickstart parts and all. Didn't seem like he wound the spring right because when he assemble the kickstart, he got the bike to kick and turn over, but there was a horrible grinding/ringing noise. When he put it into first the grinding noise left, but only to return as soon as he would start moving forward. So my thinking is maybe he didn't wind the spring enough for the kick lever to swing back up and out of the way, or maybe he had that gear on backwards so it was twisting and reseeding back out of the way behind the fly wheel? Idk, im just going to buy the kickstart assembly and cover. I feel like i have enough knowledge to get this done, and watch pre 80' Suzuki gs550 how to videos and maybe that'll help me get an understanding and comparison for my bike. Let me know what you guys think, and I will keep you updated.

  8. #8
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    May 2019
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    squamish B.C canada
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    Well if you go ahead and finish the job you will be a pioneer. I don't think it would be that hard but I can't see it costing less than 300 dollars. Ideally you want to remove the donor parts yourself from a breaker, there are small parts in the ratchet mechanism you don't want to lose. I think one reason why this project has seldom been done is that these four cylinder bikes are so easy to push start. A parts fiche and manual will probably be more helpful than how to videos. Good luck with your project.
    1983 gs1100ed restro-mod. 1998 gsxr 1100 almost mint, 2019 kawasaki klx250, 2011 Beta 250 evo trials bike, 2017 Montesa 300rr trials bike, 2021 honda crf250rx woods weapon

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    MA
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    Definitely curious to see how it goes if you end up going through with the swap. When I first got my first GS - my GS450 - my one complaint was that the GS450 never had a kickstart (GS425 and GS400 did, though). I pretty much always kick over my other bikes just for fun. It's probably easier to just replace the engine. There's a couple GS550 engine's on facebook marketplace for $200-$300 and it only takes a couple hours to swap out.
    1980/1981 GS450 - GS500 Cylinder + Piston Swap - "De-L'ed", custom seat, CB350 bits, 18" rear, etc.
    1977 GS550
    1977 GS750 - Cross country trip thread

  10. #10
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    Mar 2014
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    ROME, ITALY
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    Looks like there is a mechanical "Bermuda triangle" engulfing the final twists of this specific task...
    GS1000G '81

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