You could be forgiven asking what the heck is a TE 185? Suzuki never really made one of these did they?
Well you would be right. However the TE 185 was built around a theme of what was available in New Zealand in the mid 1970s in the form of a TE 250 - which in simple terms were old model TMs that had a road kit fitted to them. This was a local initiative simply to rid the TMs from dealer floors before the first generation of RMs and PEs hit the shores.
The TE 250 was truely a horrible bike, savage power, oversprung, hopeless gearing; how you would ever ride one in an NZ enduro beggars belief. However they were perfect for rarking up and down the street scaring the bejeezes out of little old ladies.
So what if Suzuki put in a bit more effort back in the day and came up with more worthy enduro bike as a pre-runner to the long travel PEs - what would it have looked like? Never being one to resile against a challenge the editor of VMX.CO.NZ decided he would build a TE the way it should have been done...........
First was to find a donor bike. What popped up was a TF 185 MUDBUG for a couple of $100. The bike was surprisingly in a mixture of good and bad condition - perfect really for a project bike. The good part was that it was complete and operating, the bad part was that it looked like the jowels of rabid warthog and was let say...............cosmetically challenged!
The suspension was totally past it. First step was to replace the fork tubes, I was thinking TM 125 but these werent available so a set of Yamaha 30MM YBR 125 tubes were aquired on AliExpress and grafted into action. This required a bit of work on the dapening rods but was a surprisingly easy conversion - travel was kept to TM 125 specs. Next was fitting replacement shocks in the form of NJB/Gas Girlings - these are an era correct modification and these shocks are very robust. While the suspension was being upgraded, rusted spokes were also replaced and the steel rims were retained and polished.
Next came the engine. The cyclinder had already been ported by the porevious owner so all that was needed here was a bit of cleaning up of the ports by Headmaster and fitting a first oversize piston. Accompanying this, Cycleworks were pressed into action to build an expansion chamber which would offer good midrange power. While we pondered the merits of a low or side pipe, we elected to go with something a bit more tricked out and in keeping with the mods that were being used at the time. For old time sakes the existing muffler was retained but modified to keep a good balance between noise and performance. And for convienence the oil tank and pump were retained.
Cosmetics and comfort were the next thing to address. Off came the bulbous TF tank and on went a TM 125 tank. The TM tank was procured via eBay at a low price. It was one of those lucky buys in that the tank was covere in really think paint and could of in all probability been dented and bogged - however stripping the tank clean pretty much revealed a near perfect tank! Also surprising was the tank was pretty much a one for one sway with next to no modification!
As for the tank, the seat was also removed and replaced with a PE 175 unit that was kicking around the workshop. This was not a simple fit and required the fabrication of new alloy seat base and some minor foam work to the rear of the seat to get everything to work and look and reasonable. The seat however is super comfortable and was well worth the effort.
Finishing touches were provided in the form of TM 125 sidecovers and front guard from DC Plastics, a Preston Petty Headlight from Simply Hodaka and the fitment of a DR/RMX odometer.
So that was that - the TE 185 - the bike that Suzuki should of built!