Project: Stevie Mings’ Double Threat Part Two

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!

suzuki 600 bandit military style street fighter custom professional photo shoot
“Skirmisher”

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.

crashed 1996 gsf suzuki 600 bandit
Trashed

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.

crashed suzuki 600 bandit stripped down
Stripped down.

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.

suzuki 600 bandit with gsxr front forks
With GSXR forks mounted.

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.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project
New fame loop.

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.

suzuki 600 bandit subframe cut off
Hack, Hack, Hack

I would guess Stevie worked up a sweat cutting it off, but it cleared the way to test fitting the new loop.

suzuki 600 bandit test fitting brat frame loop
Test fit.
suzuki 600 bandit test fitting brat frame loop side view
Side View

While things were apart, it was time to give things a good cleaning to prep for painting later on.

suzuki 600 bandit preparation cleaning
Seriously in need of cleaning!

Once it was cleaned, it was back to working out the loop position, seat, battery, and wiring.

suzuki 600 bandit test fitting brat frame loop right side view

suzuki 600 bandit test fitting seat right side view
Test fitting seat from the “Blue Bike.”

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.

suzuki 600 bandit custom battery box
Ready made battery box.

All that was left to do was figure out where and how to mount it.

suzuki 600 bandit test fitting custom battery box

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.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project painting gas tank
First coat of olive drab.

Stevie didn’t bother to take the dents out of the tank since it fit the Military/Zombie Apocalypse theme of the bike.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project painted gas tank before and after
Painted gas tank before and after.
suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project painted gas tank top view
Rider’s View

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project painted gas tank right side view

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project painted triple clamps

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project camouflage painted triple clamps

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project painted renthal handle bars
Painted renthal handle bars.
suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project camouflage painted side covers
Air cleaner side covers.

Stevie had purchased a aftermarket chin spoiler from a friend, for £20, ($32 USD) it too was treated to a camouflage paint job.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project camouflage painted chin spoiler
Bandit chin spoiler camouflage painted.

It and other pieces were covered in military scrim and held in place with an epoxy resin.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter project camouflage painted chin spoiler with military scrim applied
Chin spoiler with military scrim applied.
gauge pods with military scrim applied
Gauge pods with military scrim applied.
side covers with military scrim applied
Side covers with military scrim applied.

With most of the painting done, it was time to get the seat loop and brackets welded in place.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter welding brat frame loop right side view
Welding the brat frame loop.
suzuki 600 bandit street fighter welded brat frame loop right side view
Finished loop and bracket.

A few shots of rattle can VHT black, and the loop was ready for a seat.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter brat frame loop vht flat black right side view
Got to love the “custom” flat black paint!

Stevie found a seat from a Honda CBR600 that fit the loop, and covered it with the original Bandit seat material.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter brat frame loop cbr600 seat base
CBR 600 seat base on the frame loop.

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.

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter continental tkc 80 rear tire side view
Continental TKC 80
suzuki 600 bandit street fighter continental tkc 80 tire rear view
From the rear.

The back barely cleared the swing arm, massive tire!

suzuki 600 bandit street fighter continental tkc 80 tire rear clearance
A bit tight.

With the wheels on, things were starting to take shape.

suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter right side view
Almost Done
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter right side front view
Love the stance!
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter front view
Needs a headlight.
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter left side view
The left side.

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.

suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom battery box detail
Mounted battery box and underside seat plate.
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom rear view tail light and turn signals
Tail Light.

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)

suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom right side front view custom head pipes
Before bending, notice the big gap between the pipes and engine.

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!

suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom front view early bandit headlight
Mk 1 headlight.
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom front left view early bandit headlight
Almost ready for the zombies.

After adding a few last items like hand guards and a cross bar pad, the Skirmisher was finished.

suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom as finished front right view
Right View
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom as finished front right rear view
Right rear view, but a bad boy from any angle!

I like that he added the “Skirmisher” lettering to the tank and swing arm, nice touch!

ming-project-173
SKIRMISHER!
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom as finished front left rear view
Left Rear
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom at a motorcycle show right front view with model
Skirmisher at a show.
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom at a motorcycle show right side front view with model
Seems everyone wants to sit on Skirmisher.
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom at a motorcycle show right side view with model
Babes and bikes, could it get any better? Add beer perhaps?
suzuki 600 bandit military style street fighter custom at a motorcycle show right side view without model
Contrasts with the polished bikes in the background, yes?
suzuki 600 bandit military style street fighter custom at a motorcycle show front view with stevie ming
Looking like “Mr. Badass,” Stevie on Skirmisher.
suzuki 600 bandit military style street fighter custom at a motorcycle show front view with stevie ming and son
Stevie, his son, and Skirmisher.

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!

suzuki 600 bandit military style street fighter custom at a motorcycle show rear left view with stevie ming and son
Stevie chatting it up with a mate at the show.

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.

suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom at a motorcycle show right front view with model
Skirmisher with model Alex Miskimmin.
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom right side view with model alex miskimmin seated photographer stephen duffin
“Mad Max” never looked this good!
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom rear view with model alex miskimmin photographer stephen duffin
At a loss for words, yup, I’m speechless!
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom close up rear view with model alex miskimmin photographer stephen duffin
Beautiful back tattoo, that’s some serious ink.
suzuki 600 bandit military street fighter custom in background with model alex miskimmin photographer stephen duffin
Stephen thought I might not want to use this shot because Skirmisher is so far away, seems fine to me.

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:

Unbelievable….

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

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3 thoughts on “Project: Stevie Mings’ Double Threat Part Two

  1. Hey Terry, I read your article and my one main question regarding his paint customizing was how did he get the frame painted? It sort of skipped that stage but focused more on the smaller things Steve painted and not something more complex like the frame. If you could let me know that would be great, because I have searched different ways on how to do it, but the way his bandit turned out has impressed me the most and I’d like to hear how it was done.

    Also another question is with those Continental tires, are they as practical to use for street riding as say a pair of stock sport tires? I want to get these badly but don’t want to slip out of a corner or something.

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    1. Hello Jay,

      I asked Stevie about that as well. He said it’s all rattle can paint, and he painted it all as one, the engine was never removed from the frame. I have seen this before on some quick and dirty customs, and done correctly, it can turn out well. Usually there is a lot of masking with tape in those cases, but since Stevie was doing a camo finish, it could all run together. I am guessing he painted the engine first, then the frame, and lightly masked the engine before shooting the frame. In any case, out of the frame, or not, make sure your surfaces are clean and oil free before painting. Getting paint to stick is all about preparation, the more diligent you are about pre-paint prep, the better the job will be.

      The Continental tires work well on the street, that’s why BMW uses them on the GS. If it were not so, a conservative company like BMW would not use them. That said, they will not have the same grip as a street only sport bike tire. If you understand this, and don’t get expect the same cornering capabilities as a street tire, you should be fine. Sometimes to get the look we want you have to make compromises, if you can go without dragging your knee around corners, and welcome the ability to go off road a bit, I’d say go for it.

      Please let us know how your project progresses, I’m sure our readers would like to hear more.

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