Home / Custom Motorcycle Builder Interviews / interview with casey stevenson of ryca motors

interview with casey stevenson of ryca motors

So you like metric cafe racers? What about thumpers? Suzuki’s? Beer? Well, you’re in luck, chumps! I’ve had the pleasure of trading a few emails with one of the co-founders of Ryca Motors, the L.A.-based two-man shop cranking out transformed Suzuki’s into clean and lightweight cafe racers for commuters and troublemakers.

cs1 cafe racer | ryca motors

Ryan and Casey (have you figured out where the company name comes from?) are manufacturing sweet little cafes from the venerable workhorse, the Suzuki S40, once known as the Savage, and currently called the Boulevard.

It seems that one day Casey Stevenson, a former NASA engineer, wanted a lightweight thumper to bounce around the streets of L.A. Realizing no such thing existed, he decided to build one with “classic cafe styling, but more sleek and modern than the single cylinder customs based on old bikes that are popular at the moment.”

suzuki boulevard s40

Having an education and a former job focused on figuring out how to do stuff that’s never been done before, Casey found the motor he wanted, hidden in a 20-year old design by Suzuki that he could buy brand new real cheap to use as the foundation for his new cafe racer. The modified Suzuki Boulevard S40 became the first Ryca CS-1, with custom parts and accessories designed to avoid any major modifications to the frame or engine, allowing anyone with basic tools to build their own bike.


bM: How did you go from NASA engineer in Houston to motorcycle builder in L.A.?

CS: I had a lot of fun in Houston and it was hard to leave, but I came out to L.A. to get into music. I played in some bands, built a recording studio, engineered some records, did some soundtrack work, etc. Everything leads into something else it seems, and one of my music friends, Ryan Rajewski, and I decided to open a shop. Ryan is an experienced mechanic and needed a place to work, and I was just getting back into building motorcycles, so we renovated a warehouse just south of downtown.

I’ve honestly learned way more about engineering, and science in general, from working with motorcycles than I ever did working at NASA. The physics of a motorcycle is a subject that you could spend an entire lifetime studying.

posin' like rock stars - ryan and casey of ryca motors

bM: I went to L.A. when I was 20 to be a rock star, too, but spent the next five years getting really high with just about everything. I did meet Timothy Leary a few times, and he was interesting and cool to me, but yeah, everything leads to something else. What was I just thinking? Oh yeah…. The bike you’re currently building is based on the little Suzuki Boulevard S40 cruiser, a 650cc thumper. You buy them brand new for less than five grand, turn them into tasty little cafe racers using the stock frame, and sell them for less than ten grand. You have other ways for folks to score one of your nifty CS-1 machines. What are those options?

CS: Ryca can build you a CS-1 from a brand new or a low mileage used bike, your choice. If you already own an S40, you can bring it in to us and we’ll convert it for you. If you’re the type who likes to build your own stuff, then you can put together a CS-1 from the custom parts we make. The kit includes all the parts made by Ryca: the low profile fuel tank, tank indicator panel, tank mount, seat assembly with fiberglass cafe seat, fiberglass side covers, rearset bracket assembly, battery box, belt guard, speedo/tach mounting brackets, side stand relocation mount, and decompression lever linkage.

The kit can be installed with a few basic tools. There’s some minor cuts to be made to the frame, mainly chopping off the tops of the seat tubes, but it can easily be done with a Dremel. The kit components bolt onto the stock S40 frame at existing mounting points.

ryca cs-1 cafe racer

bM: Seriously. Why L.A.? Why not Austin? Is it the medical marijuana? Coked-up club kittens? The romance of smog? Nerdy Asian chicks?


CS: I’ll answer this question after four more answers…

bM: What kind of mileage and performance does the Ryca CS-1 have and how much does the bike weigh?

CS: The stock bike has around 33 horsepower, but only weighs 320 lbs wet. You can typically get about 60 miles per gallon. It’s an urban commuter, plain and simple. Something to take around town, maybe go bar hopping with. We’re going to be doing some drag racing in the parking lot, so I’ll give you full report soon!

bM: Excellent!  Be sure to wear elbow pads. Ryca offers other services beyond the CS-1 for folks who need help with their metric, British and vintage bikes. Please tell us about those services.

CS: We’re a fabrication shop and can do metalwork and fiberglassing. Ryan’s latest project is a CB750 cafe, featuring an oil reservoir hidden under the custom tank, hand-made clip-ons, and a seat fabricated from the tank of another bike. With all the publicity of the CS-1, we’ll probably be shifting our focus to building the bikes and kits, but if you need some custom work, just get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

bM: When you replied to my inquiry for an interview, you wrote, “your website seems to have many references to beer, so count me in.” Is there beer in the shop cooler? Where are your favorite spots to sip on suds in L.A. and what types of beer or specific brews do you enjoy?

ryan's honda cb750 cafe racer project

CS: I think there’s some bottom shelf stuff left in our shop fridge for guests. I save the good stuff for after work. If you’re in my neighborhood and need a drink, I recommend Johnny’s, The Little Cave, and The Verdugo. The Verdugo is a beer-specific bar with the most amazing selection of ales you may have never even heard of.

la fin du monde tripel 9% abv brew by unibroue

I’m partial to pale ales, amber ales, and Belgian ales, myself. How ’bout a top 5 list in no particular order?

La Fin Du Monde by Unibroue
Double Barrel Ale by Firestone
Eye of the Hawk by Mendocino Brewing Company
Arrogant ******* Ale by Stone
Duvel by… some Flemish dudes

Well, I should have done more like a top 20 or so, but you get the idea.

bM: A few years ago the woman who inexplicably loves me came home with a new beer she found that she thought I’d dig. Seems the name reminded her of me. Besides Arrogant *******, I’ve had Duvel, and drank the Unibroue, which f***ed me up at 9% ABV. Yay.

What is more plausible: Hurricanes and earthquakes are ***’s revenge upon sinners, or the Earth is a sentient thing trying to wash off the polluting cancer of humanity?

CS: Well *** is dead, so I would have to go with number two. But wait…. that was very arrogant and short sighted of me to just say something like “*** is dead.” So I’m going to backtrack a little. Like any good scientist, I require proof of things I believe in. That is more of a flaw than an asset, I’ll tell you right now. I can’t really prove or disprove *** or earth as a sentient being any more than anyone else can, so maybe I should just say “that’s a stupid question.” But I already said I like a challenge, so that feels like the easy way out. Oh wait…that was it….feel….not think.

Maybe the reason why we like motorcycles in the first place is it’s more of a feeling thing, not a thinking thing. And when we’re on two wheels it’s just us vs. the car people, not the saints vs. the sinners, or Judas Priest vs. Iron Maiden. See what I’m saying?

If you do, let me know, cuz I lost myself about four sentences ago. Which leads me to your third question. Which you now know the answer to as well.

bM: I knew it. Nerdy Asian chicks. Me, too!

As for stupid questions, you don’t think science has all the answers do you? In truth, modern science offers many significant questions, including, but not limited to, the inability to measure the movement of an object without effecting it. I know you know this. Seriously. Quantum mechanics, the science that to the best of our understanding governs our reality, gives multiple answers to every question. I’m sure you’re aware of the Schrödinger’s Cat dilemma. What about the old school Copenhagen Interpretation? The simple concept of probability? Why can one of the answers to my question not be ***? Science demands that possibility. It wasn’t a “feeling” vs. “thinking” question, it was a “drink a six pack and meditate upon the infinite possibilities of what we perceive as reality” question. You’d be fun to drink beer with, Casey.

Oh, and I think the Earth is sentient, regardless of the nature of ***.

You may now exhale.

cs-1 650cc thumper cafe racer | ryca motors

What are your future plans for Ryca? New models? New styles?

CS: Nothing short of world domination. New models and new styles. We’re going to be moving to a new location soon, probably something with a store front, and we’ll have a few new bikes on hand at all times. We’d like to do a production run of the CS-1, and invest the profits back into the company to build more bikes for the best price possible. We have some new projects in the works based on another small displacement bike and maybe another kit. The cafe and vintage styles are really taking off here in L.A. and we want to continue to combine the retro and modern aspects of motorcycles and put our unique stamp on the bikes we build.

650cc thumper cafe racer | ryca motors

bM: Right on, Casey. I’ll race you to world domination. First one there buys the beer and kills a million people to instill obedience.

Visit Ryca Motors to get yourself a reliable, inexpensive, and visually appealing little cafe racer, folks. Ryca epitomizes what bikerMetric is all about. Stay in touch, man, and thanks for taking the time to play along.


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  1. Classic. Anyone want to loan me $10,000?

  2. whoa. just whoa.

  3. Love it, but 33hp is a bit light

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