Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

Yamaha XVS400 ‘Atlas’ – Bandit9

Posted on September 3, 2013 by Andrew in Bobber. 41 comments

One of the nicest things about the hungry beast that’s is that you get to meet new people. We literally make contact with half a dozen new builders every week who all keen to show us their wares. What’s more, we end up getting to know them quite well. Here’s a builder I have been shooting the poop with on and off for two years now, and even through I’ve never actually met him, I’m sure that we’d get on like a house on fire. This is his fifth bike to be featured on the site. Around here we know him as ‘Dazza’, but you’ll should probably call him by his real name – Daryl Villanueva, head of Beijing’s Bandit9 Motorcycle Design.

So much black, some black holes are jealous

“Atlas is an evolution on the Yamaha XVS 400, which is not the most attractive bike to base a new build on,” states Daryl, with an unusual candor. “But for Bandit9, the goal was to inspire other builders by creating a beautifully designed, well-engineered bike from a pretty rocky foundation. Not everyone can afford a Triumph or a Harley and not everyone has access to shops where you can simply buy accessories. However, we believe that these limitations pave way for art and invention.”

“Atlas is actually the third design iteration and it took nearly a year to complete. The first two prototypes were 95% complete before we tore everything apart and started again. My brief was that it should be ‘brutally simple’. I wanted a clean, understated design that looked powerful and very capable. If Nero was designed for Batman, then Atlas is for Bruce Wayne, and if it wasn’t headed in that direction, then we had to start again.”

So the bike was torn down a third time, leaving only the engine untouched. ”The frame was reshaped to extend Atlas’ body length, lower its stance, and also make room for the improvements in the ergonomics. The rear fender was fabricated and welded directly onto the soft tail. A slim leather saddle was designed to blend with the frame and in some angles, to disappear entirely. The beveled tank with the dual gas caps were forged from stainless steel and was shaped to flow with the seat and the tip of the fork. New side panels were designed to make Atlas as slim and as solid as possible,” says Dazza.

”The exhausts were designed to turn heads with their throaty growl.” From all reports, Atlas sounds uncannily like a lion. ”The pipes rumble everything in their wake. The heat wrap was not an aesthetic addition but a functional one to protect the rider’s legs from the hot pipes. Atlas has an upgraded springer fork with a mounted custom-made headlight, and 19-inch firestone tires.” And as a last touch of simplicity, Bandit9 made their own handlebars, which were welded directly to the fork. ”It seems to feel more responsive since the steering system is one solid piece.”

Dazza gives the bike its final shakedown on the backstreets of Beijing

Interestingly, the bike will live in the garage of Hakan Saracoglu, Design Director of Chery Motors, and ex-Porsche Designer responsible for the 918 Spyder, Cayman and GT2. When we asked what drew him to it, he replied, “I love the minimalistic approach, the extremely low riding position, and the way the rider completes the overall form. The bike is pure and raw.” And if the man who designed the GT2 says he likes it enough to buy it, who are we to argue?

  • revdub

    Wow. The stance and overall design are perfect. I’m glad to see a picture with a rider, because this shows the stance even more clearly. Awesome transformation.

    • itsmefool

      Yep, a rider shot makes all the difference, huh? We really need that to help with the sense of scale

      Too bad the lighting in the static shots is so, umm, moody. I’d like to see more of the details.

  • Ur Momma

    When springer-forks and repro Firestones are ‘up-grades’ that’s when i know the shark has been jumped. go home Bandit9… you’re drunk.

    • Bandit9

      you should see what the original came with so yes, they’re upgrades.

      • Davidabl2

        Firestones as upgrades must mean that there are no highway rain grooves
        in your part of the world…

    • coldsunshine

      Firestone tread is nostalgic, but not the most “sophisticated” pattern for all conditions. That may be why tires don’t use that pattern these days and why it is considered old fashioned. With that said, doesn’t really matter to me what type of tire they use (yes, TIRE…I’m American.) What begs the question is why put a modern tread on the rear and a classic tread on the front?

  • LoneRider5

    I really hate those firestone tires. Especially here where the tires do not match. They are so ugly. I get that they are retro looking but dont get it. Nice looking bike though.

    • coldsunshine

      I’m of the same mind. Like I said in another post, I really don’t care either way if someone wants to use Firestones (even if a little cliche.) I don’t get why the mismatch.

  • Adam Santella

    after seeing bandit9s bros 400, i had to admit that although i was excited to see an RC31 on pipeburn, it seemed like they did not address many parts of the bike that make it look lime a stock motorcycle. I loved the bike personally, but felt the stock rims and few changes that they did make did not create a very unique or individual motorcycle which the shop claims to strive for. Atlas is a completely different story. The lines are clean and crisp. The springer front and firestones are nostalgic, (even if slightly overdone nowadays), and the tank and overall stance creates a sense of power far beyond the actual output of the 33hp 400. Overall I think it is a beautiful piece of engineering, and although the GT2 and Cayman are cars that look almost exactly like, and are based heavily on their predecessors, (porsche designers have been creating the same exact car aesthetically for half a century) I am not the only person who respects the beauty and simplicity of a well engineered and fabricated motorcycle. If is also interesting that a man who designs performance vehicles at the pinnacle of sports car performance would choose a softtail, a 400cc engine, and firestones for his bike. As Porsche has no motorcycle offerings I guess he didn’t want to be a traitor and buy the bavarian german alternative!

    • Davidabl2

      I suspect he bought it to get away from the pressures of work by getting a vehicle completely different from the vehicles he’s designing.

    • Destro

      Perfect size engine and tail for the crazy streets of Shanghai!

  • If you get the time, check out Bandit9’s second build. It’s amazing…

  • 3s and 7s

    Really nice photography and a well done machine. I can never understand though, why people who have the skill or money to build/own such a sweet bike don’t seem to think its smart to wear protective gear when riding. Is it just to look cool or am I missing something?
    I mean at least gloves? Unless you want to know what the bones in your hands look like. I’m not picking on this particluar photo or rider it’s just something I see frequently in the cafe/custom bike scene. I don’t get it!

  • Davidabl2

    Hey, Dazza since you operate in China maybe you should get one these reverse-engineered..!forks-wheels-brakes/c1ty6

    Or, better yet, beat Kiwi to doing one of those late 40’s Indian Girder fronts..

    • Bandit9

      Hey man, I’ll look into it for our future builds man. It’s pretty difficult to get really classic bikes here. But who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and find one. Thanks for this.

      • Davidabl2

        Other than Chiang Jang classics?
        I was actually talking about manufacturing classic design inspired front ends in
        China & making them for the smaller bikes like your XV

  • J.Y.Kelly

    It’s truly horrible! Impractical, ugly and cumbersome looking. I wouldn’t want to ride it more than half a mile.

    • The guy who designed Porsches disagrees. And you are…?

      • J.Y.Kelly

        No less a human being than anyone, and a biker who’s been riding for 45 years who’s opinion is just as relevant as any designer’s as I am a customer. Is this the person who designed that ugly Porsche Cayenne, the ugliest car to be designed in the last 20 years?
        All the builder has done is spend money making an already ugly bike worse by adding retrograde parts. Can you imagine actually spending time on that seat?
        This isn’t a bike built for riding in any practical sense, therefore it fails to fulfil what a motorbike is, first and foremost; transport.
        The people who annoy me most are those who have opinions, but don’t want other people to have opinions that differ from their own.
        Motorcycling is diverse and we all have different likes and dislikes. I wouldn’t attempt to belittle anyone by implying that they are less a human being simply because they don’t design cars.
        I am a cabinet and furniture maker by trade, and everything I make is a unique piece, but I wouldn’t force my opinion on someone for not liking the furniture I like.

        • “a motorbike is, first and foremost; transport.” Really? I think you’re on the wrong site. Maybe try this one:

        • With such passionate views on what makes a custom bike practical and beautiful, I’d love to see your latest build. Why don’t you upload some images for us all?

          • J.Y.Kelly

            I’m not saying the TECHNICAL ability isn’t there. As a CUSTOMER I wouldn’t waste my money on something like that. I could build the most complicated and technical structure you could imagine, but that wouldn’t qualify it as practical, beautiful, comfortable or functional. I don’t build bikes, I buy bikes. I also don’t build washing machines or vacuum cleaners, but I wouldn’t buy one that wasn’t of any use to me.
            Ultimately, it’s the customer that has the final say, and I’m a customer.
            I don’t build bikes, but I know what I don’t like, and I certainly don’t like this.
            If you want to hang it on a wall then fine, that may be the only function it could fulfil , but as a bike, it remains impractical and I don’t like it at all.
            Most people who ride bikes don’t build them, and they will only buy a bike they like; their opinion, their choice. You don’t need an engineering degree to have an opinion.

          • Leroy

            You’re a fucking idiot.

          • J.Y.Kelly

            Thank you, I’ll bear that in mind next time I clean the frame around my MENSA certificate. I won’t demean myself by telling you what I think of opinionated people like you, as you probably wouldn’t understand it.

          • Dom King

            Whatever your opinion, there really isn’t any need for the facetious
            tone of your posts; “the ugliest car to be designed in the last 20
            years”, “wouldn’t waste my money”, “making an already ugly
            bike worse”. Really? There’s a difference between contributing to a conversation and being an arrogant prick.

          • J.Y.Kelly

            I think you have sent this post to the wrong person. You should have sent it to Leroy. I stand by everything I posted. Opinion is opinion. People like you don’t think others have a right to any opinion that differs from yours. I hadn’t realised this was a bike worshipping website, I mistakenly thought it was somewhere for open dialogue and opinion. Obviously not.

          • frizzyrick

            Nobody said you didn’t have the right to be a total fucking idiot.

          • J.Y.Kelly

            Simply because I have an opinion that doesn’t match yours? Grow up.
            I hadn’t realised this site had a COMMENTS option that only allowed positive comments. What is the point in that?
            It just goes to prove that someone is afraid of criticism, constructive or otherwise.
            Oh, and by the way, name calling is juvenile. Anyone who has to resort to that has run out of constructive things to say.

          • Adam Santella

            Pipeburn is too classy a site for comment wars gentlemen! (and ladies, of course!)

          • Destro

            Get back in the wood shop!!

          • Robbert Carr

            Allowed? who didn’t allow your comments? You can say what you want but you shouldn’t expect protection when you act like an idiot.

          • Destro

            You’re right Dom!

        • Destro
    • Destro

      Not just a little jealous then?!!! Take your self back to sleep young man!!

    • Guest

      You’re right Dom!

  • Swartz77

    Excuse my ignorance, but are pipes like that baffled in some way?

    • There’s no hard and fast rule, but they can get silly loud if they aren’t. In Sydney, open pipes will eventually be defected. In Beijing, maybe not…

      • Destro

        NO sound regulations for motorcycles in China ; )

  • Destro

    Beautifully proportioned, classic Bandit9 detailing and essence. Damn cool machine IMHO! Get it on the street H! ; )

  • coldsunshine

    Look how clean those streets are. Where’s all the trash and hookers??? With that said, I like the bikes these guys do, if maybe a little heavy on the black paint.