A boxed aluminum frame, round headlights, three-spoke wheels and and bold graphics; nothing epitomizes the dawn of the 90s like the 1990 Suzuki GSX-R750. The 115 hp Slingshot was the first GSX-R with upside down forks, and the last one to put its twin lights on full display. It demands attention, even today—so if you’re going to customize one, you’d better make it unmissable.
That’s Michel Szozda’s theory, at least. He customizes motorcycles as Cool Kid Customs, working out of a space that he shares with other creative friends in Haarlem, near Amsterdam. His style is anything but conventional, and his bikes are typically wrapped in eye-popping liveries.
This project ended up in the Cool Kid workshop almost by accident. Michel’s client had booked in his Yamaha Ténéré for a makeover, and had picked up the GSX-R to act as a daily runner while the Yamaha was being worked on. But once Michel saw the Suzuki, he suggested that it’d be a better option for a custom build.
The client agreed, and the ‘Rad Racer’ project was underway. But Michel had more work ahead of him than he’d expected. “The Suzuki looked clean when he came to drop the bike off,” he tells us, “but on further inspection, it had damage on almost every part.”
Some of the bodywork was beyond repair—so Michel ordered a full race replica body kit with a solo seat. But there’s no way it was going to go on without at least some modification. For starters, the front fairing only wears the upper sections, with the belly pan removed to expose some of the GSX-R’s working bits.
The headlights were in a bad state too, and looked dated. So Michel fitted a modern LED headlight on one side, and a 3D-printed cover on the other.
More work had to be done out back. Once Michel had the aftermarket tail section mounted up, he decided that it was too long for the look he was after. So he cut it down to size, leaving him with a gaping hole to contend with.
“I decided to use molding clay to design the backside,” he tells us. “Then I made a mold of that, and copied it in chopped carbon fiber.”
Chopped carbon fiber consists of small fragments of carbon fiber, rather than sheets of it, accounting for the unique texture. The new parts include a boxed piece to close up the back, and a vented insert up top. Michel built an X-shaped LED taillight to finish things off; a concept he’s been wanting to try out for a while.
“After the tail was done we needed more carbon parts to match it,” he tells us. “So we made a custom carbon windscreen, and made a copy of an 90s Yoshimura oil cooler vent that I had laying around.”
The GSX-R’s wheels, brakes and forks were still usable, but the rear shock was leaking. It was swapped out for a newer GSX-R part, which left little room for the old, chunky battery. Michel built a new battery tray under the seat, moved all the electronics there and installed a small Lithium-ion battery.
Staying below the line, Michel also removed the Suzuki’s airbox. Its Mikuni ‘slingshot’ carbs now inhale via a set of K&N filters, and they’ve been tuned with fresh jets, springs and needles.
Moving to the cockpit, Michel tossed the OEM speedometer in the bin (it had a broken needle). A digital KOSO unit sits in its place, mounted to a custom-made carbon fiber dashboard. The original clip-ons and switches are matched to new fish scale-style grips, while the stock mirrors have been swapped for slim CNC-machined items.
The Suzuki was also treated to braided stainless steel brake hoses, and new Pirelli Angel GT tires. For the exhaust, Michel coated the stock four-into-one headers black, then fabricated a stainless steel link pipe. The silencer is of undetermined origin; “I don’t know the brand, but it looked cool—so I slapped it on there.”
Michel needs little encouragement to wrap a sportbike in bold graphics—but this lively paint scheme was actually request by his client. “He only had one small, 300 x 300 pixel picture of a pattern that he liked,” he tells us. “After googling the whole day, I couldn’t find a better quality version of it. So I fired up Adobe Illustrator and made it myself.”
It takes moxie to wrap a custom motorcycle in pink and yellow, but this design is about as 1990 as it gets. Michel did it himself too—from the matte black base, to the geometric shapes and patterns.
Outrageous and unapologetic, Cool Kid Customs’ Slingshot looks just like a sportbike from the same era as Vanilla Ice and parachute pants should; radical.
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