Showing posts with label Yamaha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yamaha. Show all posts

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Into The Woods: 654’s rippin’ Yamaha SR500

If there’s a two-wheeled equivalent of the VW Beetle, it’s the Yamaha SR series. The mechanicals are simple, parts are cheap, and the charm has endured over the decades. In the US, you can pick up an older SR500 in reasonable condition for $2,000 or so. This accessibility also means a glut of customized SR400s and SR500s—but this one caught our eye. It’s a classy, textbook build from our favorite small Swedish shop, 6/5/4 Motors.

“I bought the SR500 before we started the company,” says co-founder Johan. “I wanted a fairly small and quick bike to play around with—in town and on the gravel roads.” Shortly after, the workshop was up and running, and a guy walked in looking for a cafe racer. “But when he saw the SR500 he fell in love, and asked if it was for sale. Voilà!

6/5/4 got to work, and the result ticks all the boxes. For a 35-year-old bike, the engine was in great condition. The compression and spark checked out okay, so Johan replaced a few worn seals, adjusted everything back to factory spec, and replaced the nuts and bolts. He’s also changed the Mikuni carb, replacing the CV34 with a VM34—and removed the unusually restrictive stock air filter. In its place is a free-flowing K&N foam filter, with the carb retuned to match.

A new chain and sprockets send drive to the 18-inch back wheel, which is shod with Bridgestone TW24 rubber. The 19-inch front carries a Heidenau K37 tire. 6/5/4 have dropped the forks just a notch, and fitted new shocks out back. The front brake rotor is from a Yamaha FZR, matched to a Brembo caliper from a Ducati Monster. This required a custom mounting bracket to match the offset of the SR500.

There’s a simple loop to clean up the back of the detabbed frame, and the front of the tank’s been lowered slightly for a straighter line. Then a bunch of new brackets were welded on: they hold the rear fender, reposition the tank and aluminum seat pan, and support an electronics box under the Nubuck leather seat. There’s a new, simplified wiring loom, plus motocross bars, Renthal grips and a mini speedo to clean up the cockpit.

The seat is short—this is most definitely a bike for solo trips—which leaves room for a compact ‘luggage carrier.’ (At the moment it’s sporting a tool roll from the Sandqvist/Wrenchmonkees range.) When 6/5/4’s customer first saw the bike, the tank was painted in a soft pink color. Fortunately it’s now a cool grey on the sides, with the top left unpainted and protected by a semi-flat clear coat. The frame is a creamy white—not the most obvious choice, but it works beautifully.

“The bike is quick and handles great,” Johan reports. And so it should—a stock 1980 SR500 is pleasingly light, tipping the scales at around 160 kilos dry (350 pounds). Today, this SR500 spends most of its time in the north of Sweden, with occasional forays into the woods. Even as I sit 17,000 kilometers away on a small farm in New Zealand, it’s prompted me to scour the local classifieds …
6/5/4 Motors | Instagram | Facebook | Images by 
David Gonzalez

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Guerilla Four: An XJR 1300 from Rough Crafts

Yamaha’s XJR 1300 is proof that, once in a while, major manufacturers pay attention. And get it right. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the iconic street bruiser was re-released this year with a refreshed look and a layout that encourages customization—thanks to the prolific Yard Built program. Driving the movement is Yamaha’s European product manager, Shun Miyazawa. Shun and his team have now turned their attention to Taiwan, and one of our favorite builders: Rough Crafts‘ Winston Yeh.

Guerilla Four: a stealthy custom Yamaha XJR 1300 from Rough Crafts.Known for his edgy Harley builds, Winston’s trademark aesthetic is tough, dark and menacing. A vibe that the muscular XJR wears well. “We’ve been privileged to work with the best custom builders in the world,” says Shun, “and builders who are doing something original, pushing boundaries with a distinct style. The ‘Guerilla Four’ is no exception, with the Rough Crafts signature—a sleek, stripped back creation that really stands out.”

It’s one of those rare cases when the PR blurb matches the reality. Winston’s process is collaborative: he kicks off each build by sketching it out digitally, before turning to a trusted network of artisans in Taipei to execute it. And he has an arsenal of Rough Crafts parts at his disposal—bolt-on bits developed and refined over time. His approach to the XJR 1300 was simple: ramp up the brutality with his signature ‘Guerilla’ look. As with all Yard Built customs, the trick was to leave the frame as unscathed as possible. It’s a look that can be emulated by ‘everyday’ XJR owners.

Winston started by beefing up the front end with a set of Yamaha VMAX forks. Held in place by custom-made triple trees, they’ve been dropped by 100mm and the front brake caliper mount’s been modified to take 11.5-inch discs. Equally brawny are the wheels: 16×5.0 Roland Sands Design Boss rims, wrapped in chunky Coker Beck tires. Out back, the stock Öhlins rear shocks were stripped, refinished in black and re-assembled.

A new ISR braking system has been installed, and the XJR’s airbox has been replaced by a set of velocity stacks. The exhaust headers are stock, but the silencer is a Rough Crafts creation. The steel bodywork—from the scalloped tank to the sharp tail section—was fabricated by OneHandMade Customs. And the paint, a typically monochrome Rough Crafts scheme, was executed by Taipei’s top paint shop, Air Runner Custom Paint.

A sprinkling of Rough Crafts parts were added to finish it off. These include foot pegs, handlebars and risers, grips, a headlight grill and a custom fuel cap. And all the instrumentation’s been binned for a super-clean cockpit (and extra attitude). ‘Guerilla Four’ is one of the best Yard Built—and Rough Crafts—bikes that we’ve seen yet. And, in typical Yard Built fashion, a selection of parts from the build will be available for owners to customize their own XJRs.

We reckon the XJR 1300’s popularity just went up a notch. Y

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Auto Fabrica Type 6: Reduced to perfection

An extraordinary custom Yamaha XS650 built by the English workshop Auto Fabrica.

In Japan, there is a design theory called Kanso (簡素)—meaning simplicity, or the elimination of clutter. And every time I see an Auto Fabrica bike, I’m reminded of that fine principle. The machines that roll out of the English workshop are reduced to the bare minimum, but beautifully finished. And this extraordinary build, called simply Type 6, is Auto Fabrica’s best work yet.

Most shops have a bike that’s been kicking around since the beginnings of time, and that’s the story with this Yamaha. “It’s one of four XS650s we rescued from a farm in the depths of rural Cornwall,” says shop owner Bujar Muharremi. “A lucky find that effectively kickstarted our company.” We’ve come to expect stellar levels of craft and finish from Auto Fabrica, but the Type 6 adds impeccable industrial design to the mix.

“We strived to achieve a bike which was executed perfectly and epitomizes what we see as a ‘real’ custom motorcycle—simplicity in form, complexity in detail.” Bujar and his crew spend a huge amount of time on preliminary design before they pick up the grinders. Starting with hand sketching and moving on to Photoshop renderings, they create the bike in the virtual world before turning the vision into metal.

This time, the objective was to push the physical limits with panel beating. “We spent a lot of time trying to balance clean graphics with highly complex and organic surfacing, to achieve a clean yet interesting design.” Much of that cleanliness comes from the tank and seat base, a single elegant unit formed from 2.5-millimeter aluminum. The XS650 frame has been modified by lowering the headstock two inches and moving it back slightly, creating the strong top line that flows from the headlight to the rear cowl.
The forks look especially sleek: they’ve been overhauled and fitted with stainless steel covers that conceal the bottom yoke and add a touch of Art Deco style. The engine of the XS650 was pretty handsome straight from the factory, but it’s been elevated to a whole new level here.

“Inspired by some other great builds, we took time to design a single carb conversion. We continued the line of the exhausts all the way through to the filter,” says Bujar. “You can trick the eye by placing the single inlet on the opposite side to the exhaust outlet positions, to create an asymmetric balance.” It might be a trick, but it works well.

The engine has been fully rebuilt with 0.5-oversize pistons. It looks just as good on the outside as in, with a textured paint finish for the top and raw metal lower down. Auto Fabrica love the matte finish that aqua blasting gives to bare metal, so the engine casings and aluminum parts all went into the blast cabinet.

The exhaust pipes are handmade in stainless steel, and bent into perfect curves. They look like unmuffled pipes, but have custom baffles hidden inside. “We could have kept them straight through and raw, but with the refinement of the bike as a whole, we needed a more refined exhaust note—as well as the correct back pressure.”

The rear wheel is built on the standard hub, but it’s now laced to an 18-inch alloy rim with stainless spokes. Up front is a beautiful Laverda SF750 twin leading shoe hub laced to a 19-inch alloy rim, with a custom brake switch located on the TLS arms. The bodywork is almost impossibly sleek, so it’d be a shame to have clunky bars up front. To maintain the theme, Auto Fabrica fitted slim clip-ons and then created a custom wrap that forms a smooth loop. It’s a neat solution that matches the inverted stainless steel brake and clutch levers.

We’ve only the skimmed the surface of this build, because it’s often the ‘simple’-looking bikes that involve the most work. (As Mark Twain famously said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”) The Type 6 is for sale. If you’d like to examine it at your leisure in your own garage, contact Auto Fabrica via their website.
Auto Fabrica | Facebook | Instagram | Images: Julien Brightwell, Bujar Muharremi

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Lions Den Customs Cub 002

Lion's Den CubTwo 1 THUMBEveryone remembers their first time, especially a young man. That slightly stale yet sweet smell of leather, the wood, the noise and that sense of being pinned back in your seat. Classic cars, they really get under your skin and once you’ve experienced the raw thrill from a purer time it’s hard to be anything other than obsessed, or at the very least transfixed by their beauty.
Jack’s dad had an Austin Healey 3000S, painted in American racing colours and he remembers it fondly so when it came time for him to experience classic machinery for himself, inspiration was simple. Dan from Lion’s Den Customs was only too happy to sit down and go through the spec and design options over a coffee, as he too had HVD, Historic Vehicle Disease. Together Jack and Dan hatched a plan for a nostalgic looking Yamaha XS650, a donor they agreed could offer aesthetic similarity with one of the most iconic British sports cars from the late 1950s and early sixties.
Lion's Den CubTwo 2 With a brief signed off, this 1974 model was stripped right back to the frame. In order to bear resemblance to a Healey, there would be a stack of polishing and plating to be done so the guys from I Cleenz Macheenz in South London were given the heads up to expect a full load. In addition to the chroming Dan wanted to ensure a mirror finish on the aluminium parts, including the engine cases and fork legs. We hope he had some good tunes on the iPod as this lot looks like it took a fair while.
Lion's Den CubTwo 3
Those of you familiar with the Healey will no doubt recognise the fuel tank bulge on the Cub 002, reminiscent of the bonnet duct that helped direct cool air to the triple SU carbs. Dan spent ages trialling different shapes with card and went through five metal prototypes before committing and welding the hand-rolled scoop, the filler cap was then repositioned forward and to the right. The paint scheme is just as Jack remembers from his father’s car and looks resplendent against all that polished metal. Accents of are picked up in the fenders and even the handlebar mounts. Black Shuck Kustom took care of the paint, the blue being from the Peugeot colour chart and the cream is a freestyle mix.
Lion's Den CubTwo 4 Wire wheels were a must so the polished hubs were sent off to Essex Wheels & Engineering for lacing to stainless rims and classic patterned Dunlop T100s complete the job. The side panels are a combination of an aluminium frame with stainless steel mesh, inspired by the Healey’s radiator grille, just showing off the new battery box behind, highly polished of course.
Lion's Den CubTwo 5 Motogaget speedos might be fitted to nearly every build these days and one wouldn’t have looked out of place here, but the Smiths Digital Chronometric gauge adds that final 1% and is spot-on. Even the movement is similar to those jerky needles from half a century ago, but now with a digital tacho and idiot lights. Triumph T140 bars are wide with a decent sweep, again, perfect for the overall stance and left clean of cumbersome switchgear thanks to mini-toggle switches.
Lion's Den CubTwo 6 To achieve a neater, flatter line the subframe was removed and a new one fabricated, complete with repositioned shock mounts to take a pair of period looking Hagons. There had been talk of nickel plating the frame but Greg from Black Shuck insisted that the latest chrome powdercoat would provide a durable finish and look just as good. From here you can’t tell the difference and both Dan and Jack are delighted with the effect.
With all that shiny stuff going on, the engine could have ended up being somewhat lost so Dan squared-off the fins on the barrel before spraying black, he then spent what felt like an eternity polishing each fin edge by hand to match the sheen of the side cases. Whilst at it the rocker adjustment caps were buffed, the overall effect demonstrating that the big-bore XS engines really are one of the most handsome power plants ever made.
Lion's Den CubTwo 7Proper black cow hide was used to upholster the seat, piped in cream, just like the figure-hugging bucket seats of old. Brit-style silencers add a bit of visual weight to the rear-end along with a sonorous soundtrack.
Lion's Den CubTwo 8
Dan is thoroughly pleased with how the Cub 002 rides and will now be fitting T140 bars to more builds in the future. Perhaps more important though is that newly qualified rider Jack is thrilled with his bike and needs to be prized off the thing, testament to the hard graft, long hours and weapons grade caffeine that went into this build. No rest for Dan though, Cub 003 is already well underway.
If you like what you see here, Cub 001 is for sale in the Bike Shed Custom Classifieds here and currently on display at Bolt London, and you can keep an eye on progress of future projects on Facebook and Instagram.

First published by http://thebikeshed

Friday, July 3, 2015

Numbnut XJR1300 Botafogo-N

Yamaha are churning out their Yardbuilt bikes in 2015 thanks to some clever partnerships with talented builders around the globe. As they promised at the XJR1300 launch earlier this year here's yet another custom XJR that's transformed the factory bike into a retro racing inspired ride. This time they've partnered with Amsterdam based Numbnut Motorcycles who took their inspiration for the build and the bikes name from the 21.7 litre engined, 1917 Fiat 'Botafogo Special'.

As with the other XJR Yardbuilt bikes the Botafogo-N was constructed without performing any modifications to the bikes frame. Each Yardbuilt bike is designed to showcase what the home builder could achieve if these parts were to become available as "bolt on" accessories...and as it happens many of them will. The Wrenchmonkees, itRocksBikes and now Numbnut Motorcycles will all be producing parts from their Yardbuilt bikes which will soon be available to purchase through their respective websites.

Despite the XJR already packing some top performing parts Numbnut have opted to add their own upgrades to ramp up the bikes performance. To free up the bikes breathing and unleash more power locked away in the XJR's 1250cc, DOHC air cooled engine, Numbnut added free flowing Steel Dragon Performance velocity stacks and a howling 4-into-2 MVS Race Engineering exhaust system.

To improve the XJR's suspension Numbnut looked to Yamaha's top of the range sports bike, the R1. The Botafogo-N uses R1 forks and brakes up front and top of the range Ohlins shocks at the rear for the best handling characteristics they could achieve. Boranni M-Ray wire wheels in satin black replace the heavier stock rims and for rubber they've opted for Pirelli Phantom Sport tyres that not only perform well but also have a retro look to them.

The new, more agressive clip on bars feature Biltwell grips, Sport Development GP style switches, a Tygon clear brake reservoir connected to black Goodridge steel braided brake lines and custom made Numbnut levers. Wrapping around the bars and the bikes front end is the first major bodywork upgrades performed on the XJR. Numbnut's very own Imola style half fairing design cleverly disguises the XJR as a track bike by concealing an LED headlight behind a blacked out mesh panel sporting its own race number.

Other custom parts designed and built in house at Numbnut include the Botogogo-N's rear set footpegs, heel guards, the beautifully simple hex nut style filler cap and the bikes new side panels and rear cowl. Removal of the cowl allows for a pillion passenger to get comfy on the alcantara covered custom seat upholstered by Numbnut workshop associate Eller Meyer. To finish the bodywork off Numbnut took their inspiration from the number 3, pale green Fiat Botafogo owned by Jay Leno.

For more information about the availability of these parts for your own XJR custom build stay up to date with Numbnut Motorcycles by following them on Facebook.

First published on

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Shinya Kimura Yamaha MT07 Faster Son

Wheels & Waves has quickly become one of the best custom motorcycle events happening around the globe and it's captured the attention and imagination of some of the world's top motorcycle manufacturers. Unveilings seem to have become all the rage and this year there was a record number of new commissioned custom builds on display. Ducati had some new custom Scramblers, BMW their latest R Nine T builds and Yamaha were there to introduce their new custom series titled 'Faster Sons'; and what better way to do it than with legendary custom builder, Shinya Kimura.

While Yamaha has previously focused on customising bikes from their Sports Heritage range during the Yardbuilt series, Faster Sons will utilise "modern" motorcycles from their range such as the MT series. The aim of the new series is to take motorcycles that utilise the latest technology and perfectly blend them with a timeless, vintage style that pays tribute to Yamaha's production motorcycles of the past. 

Shinya's MT07 is primarily an aesthetic modification with the 700cc, liquid cooled twin engine, suspension and brakes all remaining stock. “I thought that someone who really loved motorbikes made this engine. Not only do the numbers show its efficiency, but also the feeling of the engine, the way it spins up and the sound it makes appeals to all the biker’s senses."

Shinya's Faster Son is his own recipe of modern-day technology meets retro styling. “To me the XS1 and XS650 are very symbolic, they represent Yamaha’s design philosophy, they are bikes that never look dated, and continue to look beautiful in everyone’s eyes. I was aiming to create a line for this bike that flows. A harmony, just like the XS1."

The Faster Son wears Shinya's signature hand formed alloy bodywork and is held together using pop rivets like those you'd find on vintage fighter planes. Finned ducts feed air into the bikes intake and the half-fairings perspex dome helps minimise drag around the bikes headlight. Under the windscreen you'll find the bikes original digital instrument cluster along with a custom FS key forged from bronze and, as a final nod to those classic Yamaha's he loved so much, the Faster Son wears a green paint scheme reminiscent of Yamaha's XS1.

I've been a big fan of the Yardbuilt series so far and the Faster Sons series is gearing up to be just as impressive. The only problem they'll have to face now is finding a builder who can follow up Shinya's impressive first act.

first published by

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Just For Kicks: Macco Motors’ XS400

Less is more: Macco Motors' custom Yamaha XS400 is so minimal, it's even lost its electric start.Most custom builders don’t enjoy messing with electrics: they’ll install a lithium-ion battery to save weight and leave it at that. More adventurous workshops might rip out the fuses and install a control box like the Motogadget m-Unit.
Jose and Tito of Macco Motors have just gone one step further. To satisfy a client’s rather odd request, they’ve removed the entire electric start system from their latest build. To fire up this XS400, you need good old-fashioned muscle.
Less is more: Macco Motors' custom Yamaha XS400 is so minimal, it's even lost its electric start.
“Hans wanted a café racer based on the three-cylinder Yamaha XS750,” explains Jose, “but he was having a tough time finding a suitable donor. A lot of classic bikes didn’t make it to Spain in the glory years.”

The Macco lads settled on a 1978-spec XS400 A2A in good condition, and fitted a XS750 fuel tank. Then came Hans’ unusual request. “He wanted us to replace and relocate the battery,” says Jose, “and a few days later asked us to remove the starting system electrics—leaving only the kick start. He wondered if it was possible, and we said yes.”
Less is more: Macco Motors' custom Yamaha XS400 is so minimal, it's even lost its electric start.
Macco called in a friend to help: ex-MotoGP mechanic Sergio Pitencel, who worked with Carlos Checa and Roberto Puig in the Honda team in the ’90s. “He’s a wise man from whom we learnt a lot.”

The battery was removed and the circuit converted from DC to AC. Two control modules were then made up: one for the starter system and another one for the lights, which are powered by a small 8Ah Lithium-ion battery from Ballistic.
An adjustable voltage regulator also had to be made up, and the coils were replaced with smaller items taken from a jet-ski. (That’s not even the full list of mods, but the rest will only be of interest to electricians.)
Less is more: Macco Motors' custom Yamaha XS400 is so minimal, it's even lost its electric start.
After clearing the electrical obstacles, the rest of the build was pretty straightforward.

Spoked wheels were on the brief. So the standard 18-inch mags were ditched, replaced by SR250 rims—19 inches at the front and 18 at the rear. After fabricating a new front axle, Macco installed classic Hagon shocks and fitted Metzeler Lasertec rubber.
The tuned engine now breathes through a pair of K&N filters and shorty mufflers. There’s a chopped subframe and a very neat fiberglass tail section with a license plate support.
Less is more: Macco Motors' custom Yamaha XS400 is so minimal, it's even lost its electric start.
The finishing touches are typically classy. Inverted Tarozzi semi-elevated clip-ons are wrapped in brown leather grips to match the seat—a detail that’s repeated on the kick-start lever and gear shifter. Hooked into the new electric circuit are a new analogue speedo and tacho, mini turn signals and a 6.5-inch headlight.

Less is more: Macco Motors' custom Yamaha XS400 is so minimal, it's even lost its electric start.
The XS, now christened “Dark Bullet”, was then finished in a typically Macco fashion: matte black and raw steel, punctuated by gold pinstripes. Everything has been refinished, including the engine, wheels and frame, and it’s right on the button.

Except there’s no button. You just have to use your leg to start it.
Macco Motors | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Sergio Ibarra from Semimate.

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Less is more: Macco Motors' custom Yamaha XS400 is so minimal, it's even lost its electric start.