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‘81 Yamaha XV920R- Hageman Motorcycles

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Andrew in Café Racer, Classic. 31 comments


Most custom bike shops would gnaw off an arm to build a ride for biking royalty like Billy Joel. It’s the kind of job that can really put a shop on the map. So it says a lot about a builder when they not only complete such a feat, but then set themselves the task of going one better – just because they can. Welcome to the mind of Greg Hageman; one of the world’s greatest Yamaha customisers and builder of today’s gobsmackingly classy XV920R.


“It’s an ‘81 XV920R,” mentions ‘the Hage’ as we chat to him on the other side of the world. “I picked it up over a year ago and developed a plan in my head for it. I wanted something similar to the Vinago bike I built for Billy Joel, but maybe a touch simpler, lighter, faster and a little more gritty. A bike that was kind of showing its age, but in a graceful way.”


Greg built this bike for himself, so he had an enviable amount of control over the design and engineering. “I shaved close to 150lb/70kg off of the original bike; if it wasn’t needed it was gone, including a section of frame in front of the swing arm. I had been wanting to do this mod for years and have been following a builder and racer in Germany named Sepp Koch who has mastered this weight-reducing tweak.”


“If you look at the Viragos he builds and races, you’ll see he shaves every possible ounce of weight off of these bikes; then he actually takes them to the track.” Sep assured Greg that the frame mods would still leave the bike plenty strong, as the original design used the engine as the stress member that the rest of the bike then hangs off. “It also gives the bike more of that Vincent look. You’ll note I drilled the heck out of this bike, too. I like to think that it looks like some alloy-eating termites have got to it.”



The bike’s suspension up front is includes progressive fork springs, a re-valve and a dropped stance. The rear consists of a special Hagon shock made to Greg’s specifications. The wheels are a 19 x 1.85 for the front and an 18 x 2.15 out the back, with new alloy-shouldered rims and stainless spokes. The tires getting their push on are Dunlop K75s. “I wanted retro-style tires, but not some useless old bricks. With the power to weight ratio of this thing, the rear tire will still break loose shifting into 3rd, so rubber connection is crucial.”


Unsurprisingly, Greg chose his favourite Virago carbs; a set of Minkuni VM34s with velocity stacks, nylon filters and brass screens. Next, the exhaust. ‘It’s a modified Mac with a repro pea shooter muffler. The handlebars are clip-on Tarozzis with shorty levers. The electrical set-up is pretty sparse; there’s only an LED headlight, tail light and stoplight. There’s no horn or signals, just the basics to keep things simple.” Amen to that.



The seat is a design Greg came up with to try to emulate a little touch of Black Shadow styling. By the looks of it, he’s hit the nail square on it’s little HRD head. The Fenders are stainless steel for both the front and rear. And from all reports, the bike ended up being a blast to ride. It also looks beautifully different from most of what’s being put out right now. “It’s very quick and hopefully just a little classy,” says Greg.


“Unfortunately, like all the bikes I build for myself, I come to the point where bills need to be paid and garage space runs out. So I sold the bike to a buyer in Denver, Colorado. I have to keep the business moving forward and don’t have the luxury of constant cash inflow, as I’m a one man show.”


One man or one hundred, if a shop turns out builds like this as regularly as our Mister Hageman, we’re pretty sure their future’s going to be looking bright. We look forward to his next build, which should be along any minute now…


[Photos by Erick RunyonGears and Glory]

  • pony

    I would never have believed that started life as an XV920, fantastic tranformation!

  • Don Fraser


  • Thank You very much for publishing this Useful Guide

  • Britbike1946

    Absolutely brilliant!!!

  • bjax

    Nice! Looks like a natural blank page design. So Billy Joel has good taste about something. (ducks thrown rocks)

    • E Brown

      A couple of things, if you remember one of his exes… 😉

    • Hammina

      I saw that Billy Joel bike and was surprised he had good taste!

  • whytaylorwhy

    Amazing craftsmanship! Beautiful bike.

  • “I wanted retro-style tires, but not some useless old bricks.” Greg nailed the rubber donuts, lol!!!

  • Michael Martens

    Great bike, cool and humble guy because he gives credit to another who did something he integrated into the build. If everyone else did that, Hageman’s name would pop up nearly everywhere an XV Yamster is built up.

  • kyril

    A truly stunning example of what constitutes the quintessential motorcycle. Simplicity, style and balance so harmonious that are probably impossible to match. Bravo!

  • cornishman2

    Beautiful transformation of the humble Yam, goes to show what some thought can do.
    My bike of the year… far at least.

  • revdub

    Completely amazing.

  • looks good but surely anyone who wants a modern 1920’s bike is dead
    think retromainia has gone tooooo far here

  • billy joel

    any links for sepp koch?

  • Tstop

    I love it, used to have an XV1000 was good fun, I’d be interested in knowing how does the single drum up front (from SR 500 I presume,) handles slowing the bike down?? I ride an SR with this brake and it took some time to get use the different braking delivery.Thnx again.

  • guvnor67

    Very nice indeed! Very classy lookin machine, and would go ok too! Quite understated, yet it stands out. Absolutely love it!

  • thumpthump

    i would have cleaned the rust off of the front engine mount, or is that last pic not of the finished build?

    • I saw the hires shots. It’s not rust, but it clearly hasn’t been repainted either. Knowing Greg’s work, he probably had to get the bike shot before he managed to get it painted.

  • ben

    If the character who bought it happens to read pipeburn: there’s a classic bike night the first thusday of every month at gb fish and chips… i’d love to see it in person.

  • The Dude

    Weren’t these bikes shaft driven?

  • Junior Burrell

    Helluva job Greg!!!!

  • The Bike Breaker

    I always have liked the XV-920 , though I didn’t buy new when they were sold here. I did pick one up cheap in ’07 and have put 18,000 miles on it. The way the motor feels on the road makes for a satisfying ride .V-twins are my motor of choice.
    And the newfound popularity of this nearly forgotten model is due to one guy in the USA . Greg is the man !
    And this bike stripped of everything except what it needs to go and stop is a masterpiece , well done !

  • BoxerFanatic

    More than a little classy. Another Hageman masterpiece.

    Trimming the back of the spine frame off opens up so much more negative space in the middle of the bike. But I did like the twin-shock variant he used to make the Vinago, also. Vincent bikes are collectors items and both rare and valuable. A spine-frame Yamaha V-twin offers an eminently rideable, likely reliable, and enjoyable replica/homage option.

    The only difference I would like to see… a single saddle seat with some sort of cantilevered bracket or something, that doesn’t have the braces intersecting down across the rear suspension. As is, I can’t think of any other way to support a seat that long, but the supports are a slight bit visually distracting to an otherwise simply gorgeous bike.

    Chain-drive XV920R/TR1 engines take that limitation of the narrow shaft drive rear swing arm away, and allows for better conversions.

  • Davidabl2

    Damn. Just about perfect.

  • Davidabl2

    Some might not like the somewhat clunky seat. But Vincents had clunky seats as well.

  • mack-o-matik

    Wow… just WOW! On design: 10/10, on tecnical aspects: 10/10. This is the perfect motorcylcle!

  • Marides48

    I like the overall concept but, the wimpy, flimsy looking seat & it’s support structure looks like a “quicky” build to get the job done in time for delivery.