When you’re a kid everything seems big, adults appear to be giants and a semi-trailer truck may as well be a Transformer. Even the childhood home feels like a castle until one day you return as an adult and realise it’s just a regular old three bedroom house. So too the bikes of our youth…
We all know the story. Yamaha’s XV series of the late 70s and early 80s scared Harley so much, they successfully lobbied the Reagan government to impose import duties on all ‘large foreign motorcycles’. If only they’d known about those starter motors… But what if the two brands had made love and not war? It’s an idea that led Seattle’s Darrick Bartley to create this little Milwaukee via Shizuoka lovechild, which also happens to be the very first product of his new Blank Slate Cycles shop. Moto baby shower, anyone?
Having owned Viragos ourselves, we know all too well that customising them without treading on anyone’s toes can be a tricky endeavour. With some of the industry’s best builders all making their mark on Yamaha’s innovative stressed-member v-twin, it’s damn hard to do anything that people haven’t seen a million times before. But with this thought in mind, Sergei from Dutch grinders Ruthless Customz took up tools and created this rather cool and decidedly unique XV interpretation. He calls it ‘The Beast’.
As a card-carrying member of the XV750 owner’s club, I’m always on the lookout for sweet examples of the species to share with you, our beloved readers. And if there’s one place on this planet that I’m almost certainly going to find the best examples of these fine creatures, it’s the sunny wetlands of Tampa, Florida. Specifically, they seem to congregate in large numbers around the workshop of one Greg Hageman, a.k.a ‘Doc’s Chops’. This breeder of beautiful bikes has just landed 1st place in the Yamaha Bolt build-off, but never one to stay in a place for long, he’s now back in his Florida nest. And just look at what he’s hatched up now…
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I figure it’s best, in the interests of being fair and open, that I disclose a shocking and personal fact. I own a Virago. Oh yes, very funny. Laugh it up, ladies. Say what you will, but you know what? I’m an XV owner and proud. Now mine’s not an 920 jobbie like you see here – she’s a MY 1980 XV 750. But let’s not spilt hairs here, a Virago’s a Virago. Every piss weak, Harley Davidson copyin’ inch of them. So just how does such a seemingly lame-ass no-hoper bike suddenly become the darling of the custom scene? Through a series of sow’s ears into silk purses by Classified Moto, Doc Chops and Zero Cafe Racer – do some Google image searching if you are drawing a blank. And it might well be time to add another name to that list. Meet the Virago that Shed-built, um, built.
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Imagine being asked to build a custom bike for a hitman. That’s what advertising creative John Ryland was commisioned to do by director Sunny Zhao. Although, the “hitman” in question was a fictional character starring in his new film called Reciprocity. It all sounded too good to be true for a ‘part-time builder’, so I asked John a few questions about the project.
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