A new bike from the crew at ICON 1000 is a bit like a Mike Tyson uppercut: it arrives without warning, and it’s a knockout.
‘Colonel Butterscotch’ is the latest machine to roar out of the Portland, Oregon garage. And despite the twee name, it’s a real bruiser. Based on a 1999 Suzuki Bandit 1200, it shows the potential of a bike often unfairly relegated to the ‘econo-cruiser’ pile.
Like most customs that have been massaged by ICON’s design director Kurt Walter, the Bandit was a tired and unloved workhorse.
Almost two decades old and showing it, this GSF1200 was carrying weathered saddlebags and festooned with faded decals.
But, as many bikers of a certain age know, the early Bandit 1200 has hidden charms—and was regarded as a bit of a hooligan machine in its youth.
The inline four is derived from the GSX-R1100, and pumps out almost 100 hp. You can boost that by another 15 hp or so, simply by replacing the stock muffler with a performance can.
There’s no way you can get that kind of easy performance boost from a Euro 4 compliant bike these days. But during the AMA Superbike glory days, Suzuki knew how to build performance into an engine.
Icon have given the motor a fillip with custom jetting on the four Mikuni carbs and free-flowing K&N filtration. The hefty stock can is gone too, replaced by a pair of simple reverse cone mufflers.
The new pipework is 2-into-2, with the left-hand cylinder gases exiting into a muffler concealed in the tail unit.
You can guarantee that this Bandit can smoke its Avon Roadrunners at will, but even back in the day, its handling was geared towards touring rather than canyons or the track.
So Icon have firmly redressed the balance by installing sporty 45mm forks from a Triumph Daytona, complete with adjustable preload, rebound and compression. They’re slotted into Honda CBR900RR FireBlade triples.
Nitron supplied new adjustable rear shocks, built to spec, and they’re hooked up to a rigid Kawasaki ZRX1200 aluminum-alloy swingarm.
The wheels are classic Comstar-style rims, 16 inches at the front and 17 at the back—which suit the vibe of the Colonel perfectly.
To keep the show on the road, EBC supplied new brake discs front and back. Four-piston Triumph/Nissin calipers now clamp down on the dual front discs, juiced up by a Magura master cylinder. Braided Goodridge lines keep the levers firm.
Unfortunately, this particular show got derailed. After a hard winter of prep, the Bandit headed for a shakedown at the track—and crashed.
“She smeared her lacquered bronze foundation across forty feet of Northwest asphalt,” the Icon guys report, in their inimitable style. “Like a drunken party girl flitting topless across golden Panama City beaches, it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
It was time to rebuild. The bent suspension was replaced. Old plastics were binned, and new plastics sourced.
The stock tank was given two dished indents, and the shortened subframe received a 70s-style endurance racer tail unit with a bare-bones but beautifully finished seat pad by Range Needlework.
A stubby half-fairing with twin headlamps was mounted up. And not just any old lamps: they’re vintage Per-Lux 36s, with new, brighter innards. Just the thing for lighting up the long, lonely straights of an endurance race track.
Six months after the crash, Colonel Butterscotch rolled forth once again—older, wiser and just as sexy, reborn in a delicious pale caramel.
As Kurt Walter says, “Life isn’t about the wins. It’s about the crashes.”
“Anybody can win, but real winners are defined by their ability to lose and recover enough to race again.”