Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

STAR LORD. Galaxy Custom’s ‘Duke’ Yamaha XS650

Posted on January 11, 2018 by Andrew in Bobber, Classic. 27 comments

Written by Andrew Jones

There’s something very cool about hearing from a shop that you’d almost forgotten about. Better yet, when they come knocking with a custom bike that takes your breath away, you know something big is afoot. So, like an artist emerging from their studio with their once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece, Bulgaria’s Galaxy Custom have just dropped this little piece of amazement after 5 long years of silence. Behold their beautiful ‘Duke’ Yamaha XS650 bobber.

“The project took 5 years from start to finish,” says Ivailo Trendafilov, the shop’s conceptual thinker and lead designer. “We are a small group of gasoline lovers that started a workshop in 2011 in Vratsa, a small town in Bulgaria. The creator and lead engineer of the workshop is Angel Valkov. Angel Kotov is our metal guy and a great welder and Evgeni Veselinov does our electronics and engine repairs”.

The bike’s base was an imported American Yamaha XS650 from 1982. “Right from the beginning, we had been planning something like this bobber for a Yamaha XS. The reason is simple; the bike has an exceptionally beautiful engine that owes much to the timeless British classics”.

And while they clearly love the donor bike, they were committed to the idea of doing something truly different and unique – something that really set them apart from the more usual ‘plug and play’ approach to customisation. “That is why we only used the Yamaha’s engine, gearbox and wheels. But for the whole time we worked on it, we focused on the fact that whatever the end result, it had to be fully functional”.

“They were committed to the idea of doing something truly different and unique – something that really set them apart”.

The Yamaha started out as a 3D model that allowed the Galaxy team to fully grasp both the overall concept and the minutia before they started getting their hands dirty. “All the parts were made entirely in the workshop, using brass, aluminium, stainless steel and sheet metal, of course”.

Despite the team’s decidedly retro vision of the final motorcycle, it was fitted out with the best modern gadgets including electronic ignition, a Li-Ion Battery, a Motogadget speedo and electronic control unit that allowed them to really reduce the bar’s controls and clutter.

“The front fork was developed entirely by us for this project. It’s our version of a trailing link system. We also added a large perimeter disc brake at the front.” The brake and clutch levers are reversed with their workings hidden in the ‘bars and the new rear suspension set-up is now powered by a set of shock absorbers from Harley Davidson Soft Tail.

And while you’d assume that the challenge for this Yamaha would have been the epic amount of fabrication work involved, the Galaxy boys beg to differ. “It was the bobber’s details. Designing and creating every single part of every component and having it all work perfectly was almost impossible. But with 5 years to spare, we had the time to make it happed. It seems like a lot, but it was completely worth it”.

[ Galaxy Custom | Photos by Deyan Yordanov ]

  • disqus_DBQb35Bb59

    Interesting bike, but the photography makes it hard to tell what the heck is going on.

  • James K

    Good Lord, this bike wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery – what an incredible looking machine. Sadly the photography is either a little busy or a little dark to truly appreciate the work invested in this ride, but no matter – what a joy to look at.

  • KD

    A truly extraordinary machine. My hat goes off to Ivaylo and his crew for their talents and skills. And my loudest applause, too. I could look at this sculpture of a bike for a month and examine each one-off component with a magnifying glass: there’s that much to learn. But since the design of this beauty is so instrumental to its appeal, a big credit is due to Konstantin Laskov who, apparently, did the design and 3D modeling. Bravo!

  • “…whatever the end result, it had to be fully functional”. I think this comment (which gave me a chuckle) says it all. Galaxy Custom has clearly bridged the divide between art and function with the “Duke.”

    The build is beyond spectacular – and Yordanov’s art photography breathtaking. But I’ll agree with others that a balance of artistic rendition and technically precise, un-manipulated photography (or videography) would be appreciated. Any chance Andrew that a video of the Duke is in the works or currently available? Would love to hear those pavement-pounder exhausts and see the geometry of the suspension in action.

    • Funny you should ask. Ivaylo say a short film is currently in production…

  • guvnor67

    Outstanding!! This thing is so beautiful it makes my eyes ache! The level of craftsmanship and eye for detail, is literally off the planet!

  • It’s a beautiful reinterpretation of what a motorcycle could be. The motorcycle the hero in a science fiction novel would ride.

  • 70s_italian

    I want some of what you guys are taking! My lord that hurts my eyes.

    • Back in the day there was a fabulous commercial photographer named Aaron Jones who pioneered the technique (and his “Hosemaster” light painting system) of painting with light. He shot a lot of marketing imagery for Harley Davidson. Deyan’s work here is very similar. Thanks for sharing more images!

    • guvnor67

      Oh lordy!

  • the watcher

    Jeez you’d be proud of yourself if you’d built this and so you damn well should be.

  • martin hodgson

    It’s been a while since I’ve spent this long pouring over the details of a bike for so long. Just the front end alone is absolutely brilliant!!! The use of the perimeter disc is just one of the little touches that allows the rest of the work around it to shine uninterrupted. Jan has barely started and we already have a contender for bike of the year!!!

  • Bultaco Metralla

    Utterly fantabulous

  • 70s_italian

    Ok, I have to chime in. I made a comment yesterday and deemed it too negative and not really contributing to the discussion, so I deleted it Today I cant hold back. Yes the workmanship is very nice. That is my positive comment! Much like the bike currently featured over at Bike Exif, nice workmanship but sooooooooo overdone. Its good to know when to stop. Unlike the masses, I find this hard on the eyes, too many strange details. I will bet that even though it is described as fully functional, it will not be ridden much. Take the gas cap for example, really, I suppose its functional. The air cleaners?

    • Hi 70’s. I think it’s quite good that opposing views are presented here. The Duke surely isn’t a bike for everyone – particularly for those in the performance and sportbike ranks. But what a dull world this would be if ideation and experimentation – and yes art – was oppressed or forbidden. I for one find the velocity stacks and induction system a curious detail. Can’t wait to see the video so we can see and hear how much artistic interpretation has gotten in the way of performance and functionality.

    • Vince Martinez

      In the Victorian steam-era engineers didn’t know “the correct way of doing things.” They used their talents and enginuity to build machines that never existed before, of course they look overly complex to the modern eye. Those same engineers simplified and strengthened the machines over time right up into today. This is a great homage to those builders who built practical machines but wanted them to be beautiful and graceful too. Brilliantly done.

      • 70s_italian

        I agree with you if you are calling this a steampunk art piece.

        • Vince Martinez

          This is as much a Motorcycle as any Italian machine from the 70s. I could go so far to say that in it’s technical details (if set up correctly) it is a better motorcycle than most 70s bikes; perimeter brakes, multilink rear suspension, ram-air induction, modern electricals, etc. I ride for the visceral experience and wrench for the same reason: to be the master of the self. This isn’t just art, it is a motorcycle, an expression of freedom and imagination, not orthodoxy.

  • Al

    That’s how a caterpillar (XS650) is turned into a butterfly…with Magic.