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SECA AND YOU SHALL FIND. A Yamaha XJ600 Racer by Foundry Motorcycles

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Andrew in Café Racer, Racer. 24 comments

Written by Marlon Slack

There’s a whole lot of customs out there that fly pretty close to the definition of cheating. You can do up a SR500 to look like an old school cafe racer easily enough and bikes like the W650 come as a pre-packaged halfway point to a great looking custom. But most bikes post the 1970’s require a finer touch and more critical eye – like this 1985 Yamaha XJ600 produced by The Foundry Motorcycles.

Carlos Ormazabal heads up the small workshop in the town of Parla, just outside of Madrid. And recently they’ve been moto-typecast when it comes to builds. ‘Since we launched our K75 Street Tracker most of the orders coming in have been based around the K series,’ Carlos says. ‘But we like all motorcycles and any platform can give you the chance to build an interesting bike’.

“But Carlos and the team were… drawing inspiration from a digital design concocted by a Portuguese architect”.

That’s true, but some models are easier than others. Take this XJ600. Later known alternately as the Seca and the Diversion, it was a Japanese sports-oriented semi-faired inline four that’s about as exciting as… well, a sports-oriented, semi-faired Japanese inline four. But Carlos and the team were about to change that, drawing inspiration from a digital design concocted by a Portuguese architect.

‘By chance I discovered a digital render designed around the XJ600 on the internet by Capêlo’s Garage,’ Carlos says, ‘I liked it so much I thought why not build a bike around that?’ Unusually, the first thing that Carlos and his team had to do was to find out if the bike had already been built by somebody else. Thankfully it hadn’t. The next step was equally out-there.

‘I had to identify the parts that Capêlo’s used in the design,’ Señor Ormazabal explains, ‘mainly the fuel tank. But it wasn’t difficult to recognise the shape of the CB750 Supersport.’ But locating one proved more difficult. ‘It took me a long time to find one in good condition here in Europe, even more so at a reasonable price. With the help of Daan from Adonis Motorcycles I managed to find one on eBay in Germany. It’s a rare model outside the U.S’.

Then the real work started. The Yamaha XJ was completely disassembled and the frame and engine given a thorough going-over. The frame was cut and painted – but with local Spanish laws firmly in mind. ‘We left the frame as legally short as possible to match the design, but with the ability to run a bench seat as well,’ Carlos says. With that came The Foundry’s first foray into fibreglass for the seat unit and side number plates.

The refreshed engine was fitted with rebuilt carburetors and a new 4 into 1 header system was fitted, which splits into twin mufflers. Underneath the bike it runs near-slick Dunlop Sportmax Alphas. To get the lines right, the team shortened the front forks by 55mm and mounted a pair of clip ons. A minimalist MMB Speedo and LED idiot lights were mounted on a custom-made bracket up front.

Carlos redefines ‘office work’

The end result is a XJ600 that’s been turned into a gorgeous racer, with beautiful matte paint and a mean, low stance. That the bike started life as a middling middle distance Universal Japanese Motorcycle only makes me appreciate the guys from The Foundry Motorcycle even more. I think Carlos and the team can set aside their K-series builds – I’ll bet the shop are going to be producing a few more Yamaha XJ600s in the coming months.

Carlos and the bike’s photographer, Alberto (R)

The Foundry MC – Facebook – Instagram | Capêlo’s Garage | Photos by Alberto Monteagudo ]

  • James K

    No mean feat – the XJ grew at the top of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down…turning it into this ride is a metamorphosis that puts the ugly duckling story in the shade. Kudos gentlemen, I’d be beaming too.

    • That’s a nice compliment James. Thanks a lot

    • Marlon

      They were so damn practical and reliable. I honestly didn’t think you could make a good looking bike out of one.

    • yeah me too … but in order to sell the bike easily at least in Spain, I have to offer the double seat too. Then I must keep the rear pegs and build a new seat as option. Also for homologation purposes.

      • James K

        That makes sense Carlos – you guys have pretty strict rules on what you can and can’t do with custom bikes? That’s certainly the case here in Quebec although there are a few work-arounds. Good luck with the sale – great looking ride!

        • Well, yeah … probably the most strict in Europe. But that means you have to pass lab exams for every mod. Just a question of skills and money. Otherwise you can do almost every change you want. If you do right – and pay- it’s ok.
          The question is if you want to sell the bike who is going to pay the whole bill. Then I always try to make as simple as possible as people like the xtreme bikes they see in Internet but almost none of them will pay for them.

          • Marlon

            Wow – so all mods have to be checked by an engineer or something like that?

          • Yep! Not cheap at the end either.

          • Marlon

            Holy hell. That’s dedication. It’s strange to hear that when I always figured Spain had a very strong bike scene.

          • Pros are used to legalize their works. But hobbyist and lot of bikers are usually riding ilegal. Bikes are strong in Spain but I bet you can’t find almost any custom or slightly modified one 100% street legal in our roads. This is why some used “cafe racer” transformations are so cheap as they are not street legal.

    • I think we’ve mentioned this before, but I can see the XJ and similar ugly duckling 80s bikes really taking of as custom donors. After all, there’s only so many XVs and Honda CBs to go around…

      • James K

        Ain’t that the truth. I look all day through the classifieds for another CB but seems they’re rarer than hen’s teeth nowadays

      • Marlon

        Yep. I think the next big aesthetic thing will be chunky, slab sided bikes with blocky fairings. Castrol 12 hour enduro racers, that kind of thing.

  • Marlon

    On fourth (or fifth or sixth) viewing there’s something clever here. I think the XJ600 was Yamaha’s first single shock bike – I could be wrong – but the twin exhaust and number plates helps make the bike look a little more traditional. Huh.

  • the watcher

    Great motor, the XJ6. This is both a real “café racer” and a looker. Bloody handsome.

  • Nice work, nice bike to use as a starting point too! Oval number plates are for motocrossers. Keep up the creativity!

  • Any thoughts on keeping the original rims versus customising them? Which was would you go?

    • Riley Dwyer

      keep em. I wonder how spoked rims would look on this build though.

    • guvnor67

      The black rims tie in nice with the rest of the black on the bike, and for a stock wheel they have a nice shape and look light. In the case of this build I feel spokes could look a bit busy, which would undermine this bikes clean simplicity.

    • Being chain drive, you could try just about anything.

  • guvnor67

    Stunning! And when you look from the top front of the tank to the rear top of the tail, visually there’s a gentle arc that pulls it’s elegance into another class. The stance is perfect, the paint exquisite, the exhaust so right! It’s the sort of bike that makes you wanna call in sick and head out along the coast. Brilliant!

    • Thanks a lot dude. Glad you notice so thin details. Highly trained eye 😉. Worth to say it was intentional as some oh other curves in the tail that match also the shape of the tank when looking the bike straigh fron the rear.