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1972 Yamaha TX650

Posted on May 24, 2014 by Scott in Racer. 17 comments

Shooting Kent's Motorcycles 2014

Written by Ian Lee.

After more than three decades in the motorcycle industry, you’re bound to pick up a whole heap of neat tricks. It also helps if you run one of the biggest motorcycle accessory houses in Europe, with a catalogue of over 6000 fibreglass molds and the know-how that attracts the attention of factory race teams. With access to so much awesome, you know whatever Kent Riches deems fit to lay spanners on is going to end up a feature bike somewhere. And that’s what Pipeburn is featuring today. Starting off with a ‘crusty’ 1972 Yamaha TX650, Kent Riches has raided the Yamaha parts bin and the parts catalogue from his business, AirTech Streamlining, to create a homage to the AMA Pro Twin racers of the 70s, to take the master bike builder back to where it all began for him.

Shooting Kent's Motorcycles 2014

Not a man to be classed a one trick pony, since his first appearance in the motorcycle world in 1977 Kent has road raced, drag raced and set 14 world records. On top of this, he endeavours to build a few custom bikes every year; “as an outlet for his creative energy”. Using the Bonneville inspired TX650 as the base for his race replica, Kent threw himself into the build, doing what he does best.

Shooting Kent's Motorcycles 2014

To ensure a race ready finish, the stock TX was stripped down completely, the bare frame detabbed and reinforced. The factory swing arm ditched, Kent fabricated a box style swing arm to suit the new look of the machine. The factory front end had been swapped out for an FZ750 front end, sporting Goldline race calipers mounted over ventilated discs.

Shooting Kent's Motorcycles 2014

While the bike was stripped, Kent took the opportunity to give the carbon copy Triumph engine a freshen up, as well as fitting 36mm carbs with the obligatory velocity stacks. Deciding the exhaust could do with the Riches touch,  a unique Magni style system was fabricated using a hydro forming process.

Shooting Kent's Motorcycles 2014

Quite a bit of effort and time went into giving the machine the aesthetic that Kent desired. Looking to give the midsize Yamaha a period style makeover, Kent massaged a TZ tank to a size that would fit the bike’s sturdy backbone. Mounted behind it is a TZ style seat unit, also modified to fit on the TX’s burly frame. Enveloping the aluminium clip-ons at the front end is a Formula 1 fairing assembly from the AirTech Streamlining catalogue, made to fit using custom bracketry.

Shooting Kent's Motorcycles 2014

With so many accessories and skills at his fingertips, it is easy to see how Kent Riches can create the art piece we are featuring today. With so much of the work carried out by the man himself, one only has to look at the paintjob that has been lovingly laid on the bike, as proof that this is someone who carries out quality work. With so much passion built into this bike, it definitely pays tribute to the men who inspired Kent Riches, so long ago.

Shooting Kent's Motorcycles 2014

  • Nic LaMenace

    Cooool …

    Since the kick lever is gone, and with no electric starter in sight, how do you crank it up ?

    • arnold

      push/bump in the old days

      electric ‘dyno’ in the new days

    • dead_elvis

      Easy – always park at the top of a hill! (Or pop the kicker back in place when you’re not shooting moto-porn. The shaft stub is still there.)

      • Nick LaMenace

        Yeah, i remember trying to bump start a TDM850 using a hill … this $&@/$& refused to start, ended up having to push the thing, that’s heavy as a dead horse, all the way from the bottom to the top of the said hill … lol

    • Newsflash! In eras gone by not all bikes started with a button. Kick starting or push-starting were a way of life. Check out videos of King Kenny on the grid at a GP. All the riders had to push their own bike when the flag dropped. It’s no big deal.

      • Mike Cambareri

        For us folks with less than reliable charging systems and no kick starters (gotta love 80’s Suzukis…), bump starting is still a way of life.

    • Cliff Overton

      Well, you take the bike and put it up on a rear wheel stand. Then, you take a great big angle grinder and mount a go kart wheel to it instead of a grinding disc. Then, you fire up the grinder and slam that go cart wheel against the rear wheel of the bike… … seen it done.

  • arnold

    I must say that I never had any thing to do with an asphalt track during this era, this machine somehow has given me a decided testosterone hormone response.

  • Flynn

    “carbon copy Triumph engine”.
    Come on, now maybe its similar and loosley based off a Triumph, but give the designers at Hosk (aquired by Yamaha) a little credit. Triumphs weren’t horizontally split case or overhead cam motors. The XS/TX engine is a unique motor. And here’s a fine example of a nice bike built around one.

    • Flynn

      Unit construction along with horz. split cases. I think I said that wrong.

      • arnold

        Maybe not carbon, tungsten I suggest.

  • Beautiful..great attention to detail.

  • Bultaco Metralla

    I really like this bike, It is the ideal of what i would have liked back in 1974. Great build, really well done.

  • Britbike

    Come on, there are a couple of things not quite finished, the tank vent tube, obviously the kick starter and probably one or two other minor items, but the bike is brilliant, no question. I really like the tip of the hat to Gene Romero (3). There was a time in the states that AMA riders were recognized by their number plate. Buggsy Mann (2), Gary Nixon (9) are two that come to mind quickly.

  • MotoTrooper

    Those pipes, THOSE PIPES! Much MV Augusta racebike style there. Also dig Yamaha’s beautiful architecture for their engines. Starting to get a bug for a 650…


  • cab305

    I’m a huge fan of Airtech products, all his builds are super clean.

    I actually placing an order in the next few weeks.

  • www

    All the looks but the engine isn’t matching the performance look of the bike. 🙁