I’ll admit it, I’m completely mad for this bike! As much as I like Stevie’s “Blue Bike,” the “Skirmisher” is my favorite of the two. It’s radical looking, built on a very low budget, just right for the coming “Zombie Apocalypse,” and, best of all, it never needs washing!
The problem with most custom bikes is the shiny paint and chrome. How can that be a problem? Have you ever had a day where you wanted, no, actually NEEDED to ride for the sake of your sanity? Most of us have been there, right? But, you look outside, and the weather is at best, iffy, like it just might rain ten minutes into your ride. I don’t know about you, but my first thought isn’t about riding, it’s the hours it will take to make my bike shine again if I get wet. For those kind of days I have decided it might be best to have what I call a “crap weather” bike. I was thinking something like a Kawasaki KLR 650, or a Suzuki DR 650 might meet my needs until I saw “Skirmisher.” Stevie has built the perfect “crap weather” bike, unless something really, really, mucks it up, you never have to wash it, ever! It can handle all types of roads, it’s not as slow as the previously mentioned dual purpose mounts, and, if you are clever like Stevie, it will cost less too.
The Stevie’s “cleverness” began with him finding a much abused, trashed, and crashed 1996 GSF 600 Bandit, and getting it on the cheap.
Talk about being in a sorry state! This Suzuki has seen some serious neglect, then pranged (crashed) into something solid, cracking the forks at the bottom yoke, (triple clamps) and trashing the front wheel.
After stripping off the broken bits, it was determined that the frame and head stock were undamaged. Stevie had a spare front end from an early GSXR, so it replaced the mangled Bandit forks. It was necessary to press out the GSXR yoke stem and replace it with one from a 1200 Bandit so the forks would fit the 600. Replacement wheels off of a Suzuki 1200, were obtained from Billy Clarke, a fellow member of the Tarmac Junkys.
The GSXR fork yoke was drilled out to mount the Bandit gauge pod, and a set of leftover Renthal bars from the “Blue Bike” mounted. Now that the Bandit was back on two wheels, it was time to cut it up.
Stevie wanted to remove as much weight as possible, so the plan was to cut off the entire rear fame section. In it’s place would be simple “Brat” style loop purchased for £20. ($32 USD) Because his grinder was broken, Stevie went old school on the frame with a hacksaw.
I would guess Stevie worked up a sweat cutting it off, but it cleared the way to test fitting the new loop.
While things were apart, it was time to give things a good cleaning to prep for painting later on.
Once it was cleaned, it was back to working out the loop position, seat, battery, and wiring.
The hardest part was trying to sort out where all of the wiring and battery would go since their home in the rear frame section was gone. Stevie found a solution in an old ammo box he had in his shed. It seemed ready made, the box held the battery and wires perfectly.
All that was left to do was figure out where and how to mount it.
It was decided that an almost vertical position would work best, and mounting would be to the frame with fabricated straps. The rear frame loop needed to be welded on, but there was a wait on that, so Stevie started painting.
The tank, other bits and pieces were painted with rattle can olive drab and matt black paint.
Stevie didn’t bother to take the dents out of the tank since it fit the Military/Zombie Apocalypse theme of the bike.
Stevie had purchased a aftermarket chin spoiler from a friend, for £20, ($32 USD) it too was treated to a camouflage paint job.
It and other pieces were covered in military scrim and held in place with an epoxy resin.
With most of the painting done, it was time to get the seat loop and brackets welded in place.
A few shots of rattle can VHT black, and the loop was ready for a seat.
Stevie found a seat from a Honda CBR600 that fit the loop, and covered it with the original Bandit seat material.
One of the most outstanding features of Skirmisher are the off road tires. They are Continental TKC 80 tires, a multi-use tire for both street and dirt. This means Stevie can get good traction on most surfaces, dirt, gravel, broken pavement, and the occasional zombie. These are the same tires that come standard on the BMW 1200 GS Adventure, but somehow, they look much more aggressive on Skirmisher.
The back barely cleared the swing arm, massive tire!
With the wheels on, things were starting to take shape.
An aluminum plate was fitted to the underside of the loop and given the camouflage treatment. This provided a place to mount the tail light and turn signals.
The stock Bandit exhaust pipes were trashed, so Stevie replaced them with a set of aftermarket K4 pipes originally made for a GSXR 750. He needed to modify the pipes by heating and bending the headers so the pipes fit closer, which seems like a lot of work. The extra effort was worth it because they were titanium, much lighter than stock, and cost about £50. ($82 USD)
A stubby end can was made from an old Micron canister, given the camo treatment and fitted to finish off the new exhaust.
To complete the front end, Stevie used the front fender from KTM 250 modified to fit, it also has a cut down Hayabusa fender attached to the rear of the front forks to protect the engine. For the front light, he found a early model Mk 1 Bandit headlight on eBay for £1 ($1.64 USD) a bargain!
After adding a few last items like hand guards and a cross bar pad, the Skirmisher was finished.
I like that he added the “Skirmisher” lettering to the tank and swing arm, nice touch!
The one thing I love about motorcycling is that it’s a family affair, these are great shots of Stevie and his son at the bike show. Stevie told me that his daughter has claimed Skirmisher as her own when gets her license in a few years, looks like Stevie’s son will have to step up his game if he wants his own bike!
Since finishing Skirmisher, Stevie has been busy with shows and photo shoots. Skirmisher has just been featured in Backstreet Heroes Magazine, a well known UK custom motorcycle magazine, and used as a prop in an on location photography shoot.
Here are some of the images from the shoot.
I am blown away by these images! My gratitude to photographer, Stephen Duffin, of Belfast, and his beautiful model Alex Miskimmin for these stunning photographs, just awesome! If there were ever a “cherry on the top” of anything, these images, in this article, is it!
The Build Summation:
Oh, you’re wanting more than that are you? Ok, let’s see…. Stevie took what could be called a much thrashed pile of junk, and in eight weeks turned it into a radical custom that has been the subject of two photo shoots, and two magazine articles. And, here’s the kicker….. wait for it….. he did it all on a total cash outlay of…… drumroll please……. £400! ($657 USD) And yes, this total does include the purchase price of the Bandit, actually, Stevie told me the Continental tires cost more than the bike did. Like I said before, “Unbelievable,” an outrageous custom for under $1,000 USD. So how did Stevie pull this off? By going “old school” on the build, they way it was done years ago. He bought his raw materials (the bike) cheap, scrounged parts, made them fit, used the simple tools he had at hand, and bought very little new. He also sold his “take offs,” the parts he didn’t use in the build, like the plastic body panels from the rear section. By selling the unused parts most would throw in the bin, (trash) he cut down his overall cash expenditure, smart!
Could you build something like Stevie’s Skirmisher? Yes, if you were willing to put in the work he did. You don’t need a ton of cash, or a huge work space, with his “Skirmisher” build, Stevie has proven that. Job well done Stevie!
Words By: Terry Cavender
Images Provided By: Stevie Ming
Professional Images By: Stephen Duffin
Model: Alex Miskimmin