Squirrel Power: Saving a Suzuki FA50


Real bike guys will think this is a wuss bike and they’re probably right.  Good thing I’m not a bike guy.  It’s definitely not as high tech as MotoIQ’s Project Aprilla SR50, or as awesome looking as our Project Aprilla RS50, and is definitely dorkier than our Project Ruckus.  But look at it!  I’m going to go out on a limb and say for sheer simplicity and penny pinching, this Suzuki beats all our other scooters so far.  Considering Mike built all those other bikes, I’ve probably put less money into this entire scooter than he did on just one installment of any of these other bikes.

Before we can even think about top speed, we need to get this old turd running.  First things first, we cracked open the airbox.  The old air filter was so rancid it turned to dust the moment we poked at it with a finger.  Good riddance, the airbox in the FA50 is designed to limit power, so that gives us an excuse to ditch it for something more modern and efficient.  

 Finding a replacement sponge filter for the airbox is next to impossible.  Most replacements are NOS parts so they’re just as likely to turn to dust like ours.  Besides, the airbox is a crappy design (that tiny little hole in the middle is the air inlet), used to help speed limit the bike to qualify it as a moped.  We’ll improve both the filtration and airflow by using a modern cone filter.   We’re still trying to find a filter that fits as due to the location of the carb, the filter has to dodge the fender, frame, and side of the engine.  

Next we drained the gas and oil tanks and cleaned them out.  The FA50 does not use premix fuel, instead using an engine driven oil pump to mix the oil in the carburetor to prevent clueless or lazy people from seizing up their engines.  This is also quite convenient as it means a rider can refill at a normal gas pump without always needing a bottle of oil on hand.  The oil pump also sprays the crankshaft, keeping it lubricated as it spins. 

 The oil tank includes this handy gauge to make sure you don’t run dry.  The gas tank receives no such luxuries (unless you have a 1980 FA50.  Ours is an '82).  Before you fill the oil tank for the first time, make sure the bezel for the gauge is nice and tight.  Otherwise it will leak into the seat cavity.  Take a guess as to how we discovered that particular tidbit of information.

The gas tank was bone dry, but spraying in some carb cleaner revealed quite a lot of varnish hiding in the bottom of the tank.  We plugged the outlets and poured in a bit of fuel to help dissolve the grime, then hosed it all out with more carb cleaner.  Fortunately the gas tank is plastic, so there is no worry of rust here.  With the tank being hidden under the seat, there is also little chance of UV deterioration as well.  The oil tank still had oil in it and the leftover oil had turned into slime from age.  We carefully hosed out the tank with solvent and then replaced all of the dry rotted oil and fuel lines.  We noticed the tie down bracket for the two tanks was missing, so we found a used one on eBay.  Some parts are easily had, but Suzuki specific parts are long out of production, so buying used is usually the only option when repairing these little runabouts.


Both tanks are located by this panel that also holds the battery (which we had already removed).  There should be a metal strap holding this assembly in place.  This strap also secures the seat (the bottom of the seat has suction cups to hold it to the metal bracket).  This was missing, so we found a used one on eBay that even included the screws.

It’s pretty snug under here.  We were hoping to add some extra length to the fuel and oil tanks to aid in servicing down the road (being able to set the tank aside as opposed to draining and removing it makes service much easier), but it’s so tight that any extra hose just gets kinked.  The rectifier for the electrical system is the tiny black box at the very bottom of the tank cavity.  The rectifier converts the A/C signal coming out of the magneto into DC to run the electrics.  The black box screwed to the oil tank is the CDI unit for the ignition.  This is great as it means there are no points to service!  This is as complex as the electrics get in the FA50.  A single ceramic fuse by the battery prevents voltage surges and a single solid state relay powers the turn signals: that’s it.  These really are wonderfully simple bikes and are perfect for those with little mechanical experience.


  1. Lol!! I bought one in ’98, still have it, and it still brings a smile to my face. I have upgraded since but it’s still fun to run around town.

  2. I had one in high school back in 82-84. My dad got it for me when I asked for a car. It broke the ice quite well, but was not very useful for dates. Still had a lot of fun with it. Drove it to school my jr and sr year, as well as going to the hang out pizza place with friends. Lots of good memories. I actually got mine to hit 40mph a couple of times, but that was going down a pretty steep hill. Most of the time I topped out at around 30mph.

  3. I have a fz50 very similar. The headlight is close enough to a 6v led flash light head, one of the ones that use the big square 6v battery. While the light pattern isn’t ideal it’s still a load brighter than factory

  4. I just bought an FA50 as a project. Thanks for the story and the insights. I am really looking forward to the rebuild and perhaps some customization of mine.

    1. Did you ever end up fixing it up? I just found one and wanna do the same thing but I don’t really know where to start.

      1. Hey Alex! You ever get started? I’m a newbie in the midst of restoring one too and would love to chat

  5. I’m in KY and looking for an FA50- still got this one or know of any others around? Had one in the 80s and looooved it!


    1. I actually bought a second last year with a dead engine. Been slowly rebuilding it (you’ll see more on that project at a later date).

    2. I have one i just got its all. Original it’s a 19 89 Suzuki fa50 MDZ start on first kick runs excellent very excellent shape I’ll decals paint chrome rims everything is original just like it came up for the showroom asking 600 for it

    1. I have a 1983 Suzuki FA 50 I’m looking for some parts not sure if I can use a fly wheel off any 49 cc to a 50 cc flywheel ??

  6. I am looking for a carb for FA50. I can’t find a part number and the one I found on the internet is soldout.

    Do you have a part number for the replacement you used?

    ” The new carb is a Chinese knockoff and it shows: there is casting flash all over the body, which is clearly made of an inferior alloy, and the float inside is plastic. Installing the new carb means replacing the throttle and choke cable ends, which are both sized differently. Fortunately, the new carb includes both. “

    1. I bought my carb on eBay, but Treatland sells them now. Treatland also sells larger carbs and accompanying intakes if you’re looking for more power.

  7. i noticed that you didnt have a muffler, i just bought an ’84 FA50 without a muffler and i dont know wether any muffler off ebay or amazon will work or if i even need one. could you help me out?

    1. You can ride your FA50 with no exhaust, but it will make your ears ring after a few miles. I already tried making my own exhaust for this FA50 and it was a failure. You can find used exhausts on eBay for ~$60, but most of them are rusted to death and clogged with 2-stroke soot. I would recommend getting an MLM exhaust from Treatland. MLM has three different exhaust options for the FA50. They’re all brand new and bolt in. They have an OEM replacement exhaust as well as a couple of performance options. If you’re doing a straight restoration, the OEM exhaust is the cheapest. But if you want a little extra power, the side bleed exhaust works on just about an FA50 build. I have one for this FA50, but have not written up the installation or review yet. I tried it on the stock engine and it made a noticeable improvement in mid range torque. I am currently running it on a 60cc engine I just finished up late in the Fall and it is a necessity to make that engine sing.

    1. You can find it in the factory service manual. Just search online and you’ll find a PDF scan of the entire Suzuki manual. It will also show you how the kick starter is laid out and it’s really important to assemble it correctly. If you don’t, the kick starter will shred itself.

  8. Can anyone send me a link to the exact mikuni replacement carburetor that comes withThe throttle and choke ends as well as the intake gasket.

    Please and thank you

  9. Louisville, or Lex? I’m in Louisville. I rode all the way up to central Indiana to get a 80 Garelli SSXL, that been sitting in a warehouse for thirty years. I’m planning on an engine swap for that bad boy. I hope that fa50 done you well.

    1. Lexington when this was written, but I’ve moved back to the East Coast since then. It’s a great little bike except when I forget to air up the tires and cut an inner tube! Got more to come for this little guy too

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