Highway Hawk Custom Suzuki Marauder Motorcycle

Highway Hawk injects alien DNA into a Suzuki Marauder's bloodstream. From the June 1999 issue of _ Motorcycle Cruiser _ magazine. ** By Evans Brasfield.**

Suppose you are a technical engineer at Motolux International B.V., the manufacturer of Highway Hawk Accessories, and you've been walking around for two years with the idea of building a radical custom showbike for your company. Normally, an accessory manufacturer would dress up a stock bike with as many of its products as possible, apply a pretty paint scheme and put it on display. But what if you wanted to create something more than just a billboard for your company? Perhaps, the custom could become a rolling corporate mission statement. The showbike could illustrate the depth of talent available at your company, inspire a few new bolt-on parts and act as a catalyst for dialogue about current cruiser tastes. Kees Dijksman's custom Marauder fulfilled all of these goals.

The first step in constructing this special custom was enlisting the right builder. Dijksman didn't look any further than Dirk Van Wijk in Motolux's development division. The European cruiser community knows of Van Wijk's creations the same way we appreciate Denny Berg's customs here in the States. Van Wijk's custom work started with Harleys and moved to metric cruisers. Like any good builder, Van Wijk discussed what Dijksman envisioned for the project. The Suzuki VZ800 was chosen because of its wealth of possibilities. The next step was to strip the bike, leaving only the frame, fork and wheels. This became the skeleton upon which their ideas would take form.

Using the drawing board as his test bed, Van Wijk immediately realized the stock bodywork was far too ordinary. For example, the Marauder's rear fender style alone could be found on the Intruder 800, Magna and Vulcan 800. Sketches begat molds and molds begat plaster fenders, which were used to experiment with different styles. Finally, the shape of the metal rear fender was decided upon. The right side swoops down low to the swingarm while the left side wraps around the monoshock, reaching out to provide a license-plate mount. The brawny new fender required the Marauder's frame and swingarm to undergo major surgery, however. The entire rear subframe was replaced with a custom-built version to match the curvaceous new bodywork. Once an agreement was reached on this section of the bike, the rest of the project simply followed the motif established by the rear fender.

Because Van Wijk wanted to keep the right side of the bike unsullied by suspension parts, a Honda VLX600 swingarm and shock were drafted and grafted to the underside of the Marauder's swingarm. The right shock mount was removed, which required the swingarm to be braced for additional strength. Sheet metal fills the space between the components of the Suzuki and Honda hybrid, complementing the curves of the rear fender.

As the massive rear fender and swingarm approached completion, the stock tank began to look wimpy. To balance the rear and midsections of the bike, the tank received numerous injections of steroids and growth hormones until the correct fuel-cell bulk was achieved. Sometime during the tank phase of construction, a speedometer sprouted from the tank top and was massaged into harmony with the bike's new lines.

The Marauder's inverted fork lends itself to this beefification project. The fat stanchions wouldn't get overwhelmed by the dual-headlight assembly Van Wijk had planned. The headlight housing covers the entire triple clamp. Since a one-inch-diameter bar looked puny in relation to the headlight nacelle, a stocky 1.5-inch bar reaches out to the ultraclean controls which are slightly narrower than the bar itself. In a similar stylistic touch to the swingarm treatment, the handlebar risers were also enclosed in sheet metal. Indicator lights and all of their associated wiring live neatly inside the enclosed risers.

Not to be outdone by the magnitude of the other bodywork, a modified Honda Pacific Coast 800 fender graces the front fork. The muscular stance of Van Wijk's creation is augmented by the way the fender hides the male-slider portion of the fork. Thin ankles or weak wrists would look out of place on this monster. Similarly, other sections of the bike were reconstituted to new-and-improved proportions. The special teardrop-shaped air cleaner would dwarf the stocker. A Highway Hawk Intruder 800 radiator cover and chin spoiler was modified to fit the Marauder, giving some bulk to the front of the engine. Similarly, the license-plate bracket that wraps around the solo shock doesn't skimp on size.

When the time came to lay on the color, most of the bike -- even the frame and the handlebar -- received a base coat of orange. Brightly colored graphics with a checkered-flag theme add flash and stress the Marauder's new musclebike persona. Only the engine, fork, wheels and brakes maintained their stock appearance. Viewers who manage to figure out exactly which motorcycle this custom started out as as cite the stock wheels as their only immediate clue. But that toolbox could give it away too.

And what of the requisite Highway Hawk bolt-on accessories gracing this Marauder? The minimalist application of the company's products to this showbike makes their presence even more effective. An extensive look reveals items like the mirrors, pipes, swingarm trim and forward controls. Closer inspection turns up prototype items -- such as the turn signals which are a combination of Highway Hawk's Starcaps mounted in flush mount housings. The chromed engine-casing covers are also prototype bolt-on parts which should be available by the time this article hits the newsstands. Van Wijk was actually quite restrained when you consider the number of parts listed in the Highway Hawk catalog.

The Highway Hawk custom Marauder succeeds on several levels. First, it is simply a pleasure to look at. Second, it illustrates the time-honored tradition of combining parts from several motorcycle manufacturers for impressive results. Call it cross-pollination. Finally, the vision that Dijksman nurtured for two years before enlisting Van Wijk will probably attract more attention to Highway Hawk and its products than a bike bristling with the company's accessories. Showbikes don't need to display a plethora of nifty parts; they just need to sell the dream of following a creative vision. After all, the dream is what prompts consumers to open their wallets.

RESOURCE
Highway Hawk
www.highwayhawk.com

For more articles on custom bikes and articles about how to customize and modify your motorcycle, see the Custom section of MotorcycleCruiser.com.

Photography By Mark Langello
The lights in the riser and the speedo in the tank deliver the info without intruding.
The sanitary grip-and-control treatment sets this custom apart from the crowd. Even the mirror receives a sensual curve. All these items can be found in the Highway Hawk catalog.
A VLX600 swingarm was drafted to help adapt a single shock.
What kinds of bike did you say that was?
Mix dual headlights and a deeply skirted fender that completely covers the fork sliders, and the front of the bike takes on body-builder proportions.
Tthe frame was made to fit the new shapes of the full rear fender..
Extensive detail work abounds: the sultry curves of the headlight nacelle, the impeccably clean handlebar and controls, and cables carefully routed through the bodywork.