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Yamaha RX135 – Bull City Customs


Posted on May 18, 2015 by Andrew in Café Racer. 28 comments

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Written by Marlon Slack

The little two-stroke Yamaha RX135 is a mainstay of India and South East Asia. It’s often the bike you’ll see buzzing away underneath a mountain of groceries, kids and terrified-looking livestock as it picks its way through traffic. It’s simple, reliable and isn’t the kind of bike that gets much attention – beyond the occasional replacement of a blown shock or collapsed fork. But this time the brave little Yamaha has been sculptured into a gorgeous backstreet café racer by Bull City Customs – a New Delhi based workshop that specializes in good-looking custom bikes that are also fun and practical to ride.

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The workshop is relatively new to the scene, headed by a man with the disappointingly western name of Reginald Hilt. After a career in the textile design industry, Reginald shifted from chopping up his own Royal Enfield 350 Electra to working on other people’s bikes – and Bull City Customs was born. But truthfully the seeds were sown far earlier than that – his youth was spent watching bikes like the RX100, Suzuki 125 and Rajdoot RD350* roll in and out of his father’s garage.

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Reginald states that the bike was “…built with an attempt to make a city street ripper that is easy to handle and ride as well as looking edgy. Our inspiration for this build was Steampunk style bike that looked like it just got outta the garage, not a showroom. We wanted this build to tell that greasy, noisy story.” I’m not so certain about the steampunk angle, but I think that with its clean lines and raw, unfinished metal he’s certainly built something special – and something I hope he doesn’t take out into the rain too often.

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The project wasn’t an easy one, with the bike being purchased from a metal scrapyard. And it struggled to meet the definition of motorbike at all. It didn’t have wheels, a fuel tank and the frame was as beaten and battered as a stray street  dog – so much so that Bull City Customs thought about making a new frame from scratch. They put that aside for a while and instead focused on rebuilding the engine – an easy task considering how ubiquitous parts for the Yamaha are in India. A new carburettor was sourced, the inlet valve was ported and with that finished, Reginald began picking through parts from other bikes.

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The twin-shock frame was modified for a monoshock set up, running a FZ rear shock, FZ front forks and rearsets. The wheels were taken from the deceptively-named Honda Extreme and mated to some highwall Nylogrip Moto-C dual purpose tyres. Brakes were fitted from a Honda CBR250 and clip-on mounts were made on a milling machine. The wiring loom was stripped back too, with the electric start thrown out and the remaining wires hidden under the seat and seat hump.

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For me, the highlight of the bike is the fuel tank, which was also fabricated from scratch at Bull City. It matches the rest of the bike perfectly – being a great blend of traditional lines and some more aggressive angles that help it match its more modern features like the mag wheels. It’s a bike that straddles the line between a product of the café scene in the 1960’s and something much more recent.

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Bull City Customs have created a gorgeous little runabout that, while it might not be able to carry 200 kilos of produce and a petrified goat, is far more exciting and beautiful than the original. It’s lines are sharp and consistent throughout, and while the mix of brown leather and raw steel certainly has become a bit of a trope in the custom scene, works terrifically on this fun little back street blaster.

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*As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the angry little RD was produced under licence in India between 1983 and 1989, many years after it was pulled from sale by Yamaha. It had a reputation for burning through fuel and while it never challenged Royal Enfield in terms of sales, it remains a sought after performance bike in India.








  • John Wanninger

    So much yes. But in a cheeseburger eating fat guy size, for me.. made out of a RT1 360. or DT400. Yes.. The wheels are turning… I’ve been thinking on making a street smoker. This seals the deal.

  • Hardley T Whipsnade

    This ones kind of funny . On one hand and upon initial viewing its kind of wrong . On another though and after more careful inspection its kind of right . So I guess the fairest and most accurate thing I can say about it when it comes to my opinion is : I’m conflicted . Very conflicted indeed .

    • Hardley T Whipsnade III

      Well . I’ve been thinking a lot about this one . Come back to it several times for a good look over . Examined the details as much as online photos will allow . And although I’d reserve final judgement for seeing it in the metal ? I’ve got to admit . I like it .

  • revdub

    This is one bike I’d love to own. I seriously want one badly! I think the tank/seat, the overall minimalism of the design, the finish… spot on. So much better than ripping around on a Derbi GPR or an Aprilia RS. At least with this sort of little bike, you’d have much more style. Bull City might have me searching for another little RD to customize. Great build!

  • This looks like a fun ride during warm summer nights.

  • Flathead

    That tank is simply a masterpiece!

  • Dhaval

    Hmm. The article mentions the RX 135 throughout except for the end where it says RD. The RD referred to in India is the RD 350 twin. Not this single RX 135. So, no, this RX 135 is too much show and no go IMO. Styling an RD along these lines would have been worth it as it would have the oomph to keep those fat tyres rolling.

    • Marlon

      I’m confused about what you’re saying, Dhaval – the RD mentioned in the article belonged to the builders’ father. Along with many other bikes that he had in the house throughout his childhood it sparked his interest in bikes. The bike pictured and discussed at length in the article is the RX.

  • foiled again

    I like this little guy a lot, but man, the term ‘steampunk’ is way, way overdue to be tossed into the dustbin of history.

  • Mike o’donovan

    cool. insect morphed tank, love it.

  • I dig this little bike a lot. The tank is about as good as it gets. Nice choice on the tires – wish they were available in the US – kinda like flattrack tires. Some incredible bikes are coming out of India.

  • Nick G

    Very nice. I wonder if you could make something like this out of a Yamaha RXZ?

  • Alasdair Sykes

    Nice to see an underdog getting a bit of attention from the customisers! Wasn’t sure initially about the fat tyres vs. the skinny bodywork – reminded me of a kid wearing his dad’s shoes. That said, things do look a lot more balanced in the rider shot. Nice work Bull City!

    • guvnor67

      Thought the same, and LOVING THAT TANK!!!! Wonder what the build cost is , comparative to say a New York or Sydney or London shop?

      • Marlon

        I shudder to think.

        On the bright side, there’d be plenty of craftsmen throughout SE Asia who might be able to fabricate something similar? I know of some people who get aluminium tanks for SR’s made to spec in Thailand, for example.

        Goddamn nice tank though hey?

        • guvnor67

          Honestly, 1 of the nicest I have seen!! Really nice work!! Imagine what this guy could do with say, a BSA 250 or 350 for example?!

          • Alasdair Sykes

            Definitely, but… I kind of like that it’s a not-so-special smoker instead of a Brit classic. Means that you’re not afraid to give it a bit of throttle, and also means kudos to the builder cos it’s all added value. I’m itching to see someone do something special with one of the old Eastern bloc two-strokes, they’re ten-a-penny and crying out for a bit of customisation.

          • guvnor67

            HELL YER!!! I had a Ratty tracker MZ ETZ250 years ago … Couldn’t kill it, and fairly quick. Got me thinkin now … Dammit!

          • Alasdair Sykes

            I’ve been coveting the CZ/Jawa 250 twins for a while now… had one a while back and sold it to go travelling. Would have been great as a tracker/trials machine. Been kicking myself since I sold the thing!

          • guvnor67

            And with Jawa’s speedway history …. I believe you’re onto something here!

          • Alasdair Sykes

            Definitely my next build! (aaaaand there goes another otherwise productive afternoon, spent checking out eBay listings for Jawa twins and parts…)

  • armandx3m

    Yamaha named this RX135 as RX-King in Indonesia.
    It was the ‘King’ of the street back then as Indonesian’s daily commuter. I really love seeing what they’ve done to this little beast. It looks tough and clean

  • Gustavo Gonzalez

    These little bit–es are yet all around here in Colombia. We did grow in the 80’s smelling the burned castor oil used to make them over powered. Crude, brutal, as her possibilities in the proper hands, a lot of power for such a little weight. These beauties eat baby ninjas for the breakfast for sure.

    None like this one in my memories I should point. What a refined art of craftmanship was put in this beauty.

  • great little stroker apart from the tyres which are just going to slow you down

    • Marlon

      In most of India those tyres would actually be pretty handy to have.

  • Meena Nandal

    So proud of Reggie and Naavika, and Bullcity customs for creating this masterpiece

  • bethel

    Hello bike lovers. I am bethel from sikkim and I desperately want to modify my rx 135 into a cafe racer. But I am so unaware of all these. If someone could kindly help me out with parts knowledge. Please help me

  • Ray Gruenig

    There is something SO satisfying about seeing a lightweight given the same time and attention. Plus, the aesthetic is just fundamentally different… one simply can’t make a bike that lean if it displaces half a litre. Add the fact that I’m a sucker for patina and bare metal, and I begin to wish I was a dinky enough person to actually fit this little beauty.
    I miss my SRX250… even though it made my back hurt… it got run over in a parking lot. Sigh.