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Yamaha XJR1300 by Keino Cycles

Posted on September 13, 2014 by Scott in Tracker. 19 comments

In the cuisine game they call it a fusion. In music it’s known as a mash-up. And in biology it’s a hybrid. Put simply, it’s when you take two different things and make something new, unexpected and original. Now take that thought and consider today’s builder, one Sasaki-san of Brooklyn’s Keino Cycles. He’s bringing the Japanese obsession with craft and dedication to America, the birthplace of cool. So let’s meet the latest result of this grand cultural collision – it’s an unexpected take on a Yamaha XJR1300 created for the company’s “Yard Built Specials” project, entitled ‘Rhapsody in Blue’.


The bike is a concept born from the search for inspiration by Yamaha themselves. The collaboration between themselves and Keino is one of many the Japanese company has sought out. It, like many of the world’s top manufacturers, has tweaked to the global bike community’s ever-growing love for bespoke transport and has kicked off projects with some of the world’s best custom builders, a list which also includes the Wrenchmonkees, Deus Ex Machina, Marcus Walz and Roland Sands.


As you can see, Keino’s work on the XJR is more than a little original. The first eye-catcher is probably the lower, slimmer fuel tank with the matching scalloped tailpiece. It’s just about now you’ll probably notice the inclusion of Keino’s signature springer front-end designed suspension. Sure, it’s unexpected on a bike like this, but it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t work well.


But the customising doesn’t stop there. There’s custom brake mounts, a new headlight assembly and custom handlebars. The bike also gets a Brembo brake upgrade, exposed air filters and a single seat on top of a custom rear frame. The special rear shocks match the front springer system and eagle-eyed classic car lovers will recognise the rear light is an original piece from a vintage MG sports car.


The retro, Yamaha-inspired paint job and gold wheels set the bike off well and a set of throaty side exhausts and mufflers completes the look. Keino’s inspiration for the XJR build comes from Yamaha’s 90s bikes along with a clear passion for the Japanese inline four air-cooled engine.


Considering Keino’s first motorcycle influences as a child were all Yamaha 650 ones, he somehow seems to have been destined to be working with Yamaha on a custom bike at some point. And judging by what we see here, we doubt this will be the last. Bring ’em on, we say.






  • TJ Martin

    Wow ! A bike that normally would of left me cold has me blown away because of the talent and skills of this genuine ‘ Custom ‘ builder !

    Damn ! In fact its hard to find anything at all about this bike to criticize .

    This … is ‘ Custom ‘ building at its finest !

    By the way … I … and many more like me still prefer the term ‘ Kit Bashing ‘ when describing something like this . And errr … Andrew … I’m not sure what sort of musicians you’ve been hanging around with / listening to …. but amongst those of us with genuine cred and ability [ and definitely NOT ‘ Hipsters ‘ ] …. the mixing of genres in order to create something musically new is called ‘ Fusion ‘ just like the culinary world does . Fact is … the culinary world borrowed the use of the word from us . Though I prefer the term ‘ Kit Bashing ‘ even when describing my music *

    Mash up indeed ! Eeesh !

    * The sentence I use when interviewed by the press etc trying in vain to categorize my compositions/music is ;

    ” Classical musicians think I’m too Jazz – Jazz musicians think I’m too Rock – Rock Musicians think I’m too Folk – and Folk musicians think I’m too Classical . Which is to say either I’m a Multiple Personality Disorder dysfunctional .. or an absolute Genius .. your choice “

    • Out of all that, what I really noticed is that although the article has Scott’s name on it, you instinctively picked up that I wrote it. Interesting…

      • TJ Martin

        Shame on me for not noticing that detail ! I’m an idiot . Mea culpa …. and sorry

        • arnold

          Hey, somebody has to be the responsible one, it ain’t easy riding herd on us kids.

      • BTW – there is a whole genre of music called “Mashup” or “Mesh” that has its roots in the 50’s and 60’s including Frank Zappa and is featured in the TV series “Glee”.

  • Schlitz

    This bike is SWEET! Luvin the forks 🙂

  • C Long


  • any chance of posting a straight on phone from a few feet back to see the dimensions of the shock in relation to the rest of the front?

  • Love the look of the springer fork on a modern bike.

  • Rale

    The thing looks so slick, that front end is killer, and the whole thing is put together with such an eye for style: the lines the colors, the polished accents, just the little details. Awesome.

    The one thing that I can’t let go though(yes it’s nitpicking, and yeah its my track day nerd lashing out) is him changing out great quality fully adjustable Ohlins suspension with what appears to be(and I could be wrong) some absolutely mediocre Progressive decarbon shocks. I mean I guess I understand him wanting to get rid of the piggybacks for a cleaner look, and to match the front…but shit man if Yamaha is bankrolling the thing why cheap out on budget shocks?

  • cockneycustoms

    There’s “Dare to be different” and then there’s “Beg to be different”.

    Some things are obviously known not meant to go together, leave certain parts away from each other. That power unit is ruined by the forks, makes it look like push bike. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate the great craftsmanship here, but not the choice. Apart from the front end its perfect!

    • John Sumser

      The front end also looks as if it has been kicked out, which is particularly odd on a bike like this.

  • sethasaurus

    Aww, jeez. Sorry to say it but to me, it’s just ugly-lookin’..

  • arnold

    What would I do with a liter and a half bike? Ride it down country to Florida? Ride it cross country towards the sunset? I have no idea.

    Love the front end and workmanship.
    Love the head stock back to the fender tip, very cool.
    Together, not so much.

  • It may seem anachronistic to put a springer front end on a modern bike but the concept is actually sound (in theory, anyway). The problem with telescopic suspension forks (according to Kevin Cameron) is they can chatter, flex, dive under braking, and cause other undesirable things to happen while they work. Leading link and other similar suspensions address these problems but weight seems to be the drawback. Regardless, on this bike the springer forks look very cool. The more I look at this bike the more I like it.

    • arnold

      Aside from the springer, the hydraulic levers catch my eye. My screen resolution isn’t good enough to pick out the manufacture’s name. A little help, or a little cuff, if it is something I should readily recognize.ald

      • Arnold, I’m pretty sure they are Brembos by the look of the logo.

  • Jeffrey Wallis Bell-Zekas

    really like this bike, except for the small headlight- prefer the large headlight/old skool look of the 50’s lamps- but overall, this bike is awesome, amazing, cool…

  • Alan Lapp

    If I never saw another knobby-clad, ironing-board seated ’70s BMW, and saw more customs of this level of creativity and caliber of execution here on PipeBurn, I’d be a happy camper.