Earth Motorcycles only popped up on our radar within the last two years, but the Slovakian shop has already made their presence known. With just a handful of builds to their name so far, they’ve managed to establish a strong signature style. Their vibe is low-key chic, with bikes that are restrained, slick and perfectly proportioned.
It’s a style that this vintage Suzuki GS500E wears extremely well. First released in 1979, the GS500E was the younger sibling of the more commonly known GS550. Built specifically for countries where regulations favored sub-500 cc motorcycles, it used a re-sleeved version of the GS550’s four-cylinder power plant.
This particular GS500E is a 1979 model, and was well and truly showing its age when its owner rolled it into Earth Motorcycles’ workshop. “The bike was a wreck, unused for a years,” says Aleš Tomis, who runs the shop alongside Vladimir Dinga. (Aleš is the resident wrench, while Vlad takes care of the company’s design and marketing.)
The customer originally wanted something flat tracker-esque, but was ultimately happy for Aleš and Vlad to take the project in any direction they wanted to. With an open brief, they envisioned a stripped-down daily runner with the compact proportions of a street tracker, but a more traditional aesthetic.
Aleš particularly liked the idea of perching a narrow, tapered fuel tank—the sort you’d find on a flat tracker—above the GS500E’s broad inline-four motor. So he rummaged through the shop, and found a 2,4 gallon unit of undetermined origin that fit the bill. With a bit of encouragement, the tank eventually fit the Suzuki’s frame.
“I’ve always wanted to build a bike with such a narrow tank, so that I could see the edges of the four-cylinder engine while riding,” says Aleš. “Also, the rather small 500 cc engine looks much bigger now.”
Next, Aleš lopped off the Suzuki’s subframe, to eliminate the ‘dip’ in the bike’s silhouette. He then fabricated a new subframe to replace it, leveling out the transition from the tank’s baseline to the seat’s. The seat itself is also a one-off, upholstered in a faux leather fabric.
If the idea of open space underneath a custom motorcycle’s seat leaves you apoplectic with rage, look away now. The only visible component here is the rear brake’s upgraded master cylinder; Aleš went to great lengths to tuck everything else away. Hiding under the seat are a Motogadget mo.unit Blue controller and a tiny Lithium battery from Aliant.
Moving to the chassis, Earth Motorcycles kept the GS500E’s star-shaped wheels—but powder coated them black. They’re not the prettiest stock wheels out there, but with a fresh coat of powder, and within the context of this build, they actually look great. Avon Roadrider II tires add modern levels of grip.
Aleš managed to sneak in some suspension upgrades too. The forks are from the newer (and bigger) 1994 Suzuki GS1100. They’re a couple of inches shorter now, and are held by the yokes from an even newer Royal Enfield Interceptor 650.
A tiny front fender sits on a new fork brace, which Aleš made from 10 mm steel for maximum rigidity. “The original forks were so weak,” he tells us, “that I could easily twist the front wheel about 30 degrees away from the handlebars.”
The Royal Enfield also donated its rear shocks, but the zinc-plated bits were stripped down and chromed instead. Aleš overhauled the stock brakes, and fabricated a pair of brackets to match the calipers to the GS1100 forks. He also installed new Venhill hoses, banjo bolts and bleeders.
As for the bike’s 43-year-old engine, it now looks clean enough to eat off. Earth Motorcycles treated it to a full rebuild, with some judicious vapor blasting for a better-than-factory finish. Look closely, and you’ll spot the edges of the fresh seals and gaskets; it’s hardly been run in.
The stock carbs were upgraded with bigger jets, and tuned to compensate for the pod filters and new stainless steel exhaust mufflers. The guys kept the stock headers, but Cerakoted them black.
Aleš took care of modernizing the cockpit too, with a combination analog/digital Daytona speedo, new Biltwell Inc. grips, micro switches and neat Discacciati levers. The LED turn signals are from Highsider, mounted in CNC-machined aluminum brackets up front, and on a custom-made license plate holder out back. (As an added touch, the wiring for the rear LEDs runs through the tubes of the license plate holder.)
Curiously, the new headlight uses a good old fashioned H4 bulb, despite the number of good LED options currently on the market. “The customer said ‘no LED, I want to be able to change the bulb on my own’,” explains Aleš.
That was one of only a few requests that he made. Another was the color scheme; a simple coat of British Racing Green, with a hit of brown on the seat. Perfect for a handsome street tracker designed to amble around town on.
The project wasn’t without its hiccups though. Before Earth Motorcycles could button it up, the client’s financial situation changed, and he couldn’t continue funding it. So the guys arranged to buy the donor bike from him, and got it over the finish line on their own dime.
Aleš and Vlad are stoked with how it turned out in the end, and have already snuck in a few test rides. “The bike is very light and very easy to ride,” says Aleš. “The sound is wonderful, not too loud, and it is a joy to shift through the gears.”
He’s not getting too attached though, because this Suzuki GS500E is now for sale. Interested parties, please form an orderly queue.