In 100 years time when they write the history of the current custom motorcycle renaissance that we are living through you can be sure that Greg Hageman will be one of the leading names credited for spurring the revival. He can turn out a mean Harley, cafe a Honda and build just about any style of bike but it’s his incredible work with Yamaha Virago’s of the early ’80s that have really won him acclaim around the world; from magazine covers, to TV features and the trophies to match. But not only has Greg inspired a new generation of XV builders keen to tackle the old V-Twin he’s also produced a range of quality parts for his fellow customisers and without him leading the resurgence of the models popularity you have to wonder if the all new Yamaha “XV950” Bolt would ever have eventuated!
The deafening chorus of engines scream by. The crowd collectively gasp, as legendary Grand Prix World Champion, Barry Sheene dangerously cuts up his opponent’s inside but somehow manages to slips back in, just ahead of them into the corner. Sheene cheekily flips his opponent his signature two finger “up yours!” from the hip, then roars on to take the checkered flag. Crossing the finish line, he holds up the same two fingers, this time in a victory sign – men, women and children (not to mention several supermodels) fell in love with the ballsy little “Cockney Rebel”. A rebel who continues to inspire the world of motorcycling today. Petros Chatzirodelis of Jigsaw Customs in Greece is clearly one of the inspired. With the vision of creating a modern-day retro inspired tribute to the legendary rider, Petros took styling cues from Sheene’s iconic 1980 “AKAI” Yamaha YZR 500 to create ‘The Missing Piece’ – a Yamaha XJR Heritage Racer worthy of the great man himself.
As part of the Yamaha’s incredibly successful Yard Built program, JvB-moto was given the honour of being the first workshop to tackle their new XSR700. Described as a machine designed to have a timeless feel, built on historical icons, matched with tomorrow’s technology for a pure and entertaining riding experience, it has a lot to live up to. But the XSR700 is no ordinary new motorcycle; it’s neither a modern bike or retro remake, but a return to the UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) that combines a non-era specific look and classic design intellection. Having done such an incredible job with their first XSR700 build, known as the “Super 7”, JvB-moto led by Jens vom Brauck are back with a Scrambler version that delivers a new, raw and rough attitude to what is becoming the ultimate urban warrior.
It took the sacrifice of a 30-year-old comic book collection, over 7,000 comics to be precise, for Dave to appease the Motorcycle Gods as he sold one hobby to fund another. This one had a little more action and little less action heroes, however. A 1980 Yamaha SR500 would be the machine of choice to pop his speed demon cherry, but this wouldn’t satiate his appetite as he craved more from his machine. “The SR500 was so much fun to throw around, but I never felt I could trust it not to break down 50kms from home. Carbies became the bane of my existence. Since I’m not mechanically minded, fixing it on the fly wasn’t much of an option for me. I had had enough…”
When you nickname your custom build “Cafe Terror” you immediately invoke ideas of a bike capable of roaming a post apocalyptic urban environment and intimidating anyone that gets in your way. A statement not only true of this 1986 Yamaha XJ600 but the man who owns it and swung the tools, professional solider by day and bike builder by night, Piotr of Custom Operational Group in Warsaw, Poland. Before he could attempt to create a design all the hideous ’80s fairings had to be removed and destroyed in case any poor soul should stumble across their retina inflaming looks. Now with a clean canvas to start from and a few beers to lubricate his imagination Piotr knew the look he was after “It had to be aggressive, low, straight and it had to arouse respect on the road. A muscle car among motorcycles.”
In the space of less than a year in the late 1960s two Japanese heavyweights released motorcycles that would go on to be hugely popular in the modern custom bike scene. First Yamaha with its XS650 and then Honda with the CB750; while the Honda is considered the first Superbike and was designed to seek and destroy its British rivals, the Yamaha was based on classic styling and an engine as Brit as Big Ben. Whereas the evolution of the CB range has progressed to the most modern of motorcycles, the XS650 remained true to its classic styling for its entire production run. One man who truly understands classic design and builds a mean Yamaha is Christian Condo of Melbourne’s Modern Motor Cycle Company and this 1981 XS650 Heritage Special is his latest masterpiece.
Moto Adonis head honcho Daan Borsje will tell you that his goal is not just to resurrect near dead motorcycles but to re-purpose them for the exact demands of his customers. This leaves him with the creative freedom to take any old busted bike and turn it into anything he can dream of and design and that’s exactly what he’s done with this 1984 Yamaha TR1. From their digs in an abandoned factory in Roosendaal the team received a call from a customer in Amsterdam who wanted just such a bike, but a Scrambler built for his city streets and not muddy rolling hills. “It’s a hard bike to find in the Netherlands, but we have managed to find one and give this bike a bad ass scrambler style look!” But looks are only surface deep and when you scratch at this TR1 you start to find more than a few quality components and just a touch of Supermotard DNA for good measure.
The Father and Son relationship may just be the biggest reason many young men find their way into the world of motorcycling. For Jared Morris and his Dad Bob that relationship extended even further and they shared this Yamaha RD400 not just as a bike to ride but as a bike they would slowly build together. The RD could be heard screaming through the neighbourhood as Jared tested out the latest changes and modifications they’d made before ripping it back apart and making it that little bit better. When Bob fell ill Jared continued the build but with the pressures of life there just wasn’t the time to give the RD the attention it deserved. When Bob, a former Flat Track Racer, sadly passed away, Jared thought of the best way he knew to honour his Dad.
It’s hard to deny that Yamaha made some exceptional motorcycles in the ‘70s. Two of those machines are arguably ‘ride before you die’ bikes; namely the insane RD two-strokes and the now legendary TZ racers of ‘King’ Kenny Roberts. So when Dallas bike builder Isiah Booth of The Moto Conspiracy was commissioned to build a raffle bike for the Tenth Annual Dallas Rockers vs Mods gathering, he decided there was no better way to honour these two legends of the ’70s than to combine them into one hell of a machine. To get it done he found a 1977 RD400 and teamed up with Jason Small of Small Time Moto to build a very special race themed machine, nicknamed the ‘Giant Killer.’
The Yamaha XS500 may not have anywhere near the street credentials of its big brother, the XS650, but if you ride a parallel twin less than 30 years old you owe a debt of gratitude to the younger sibling. It’s a potential Tommy Rand, Co-Founder of Relic Motorcycles from Aarhus, Denmark, saw when he found this particular 1977 Yamaha XS500 for sale in Copenhagen. He must have a great creative imagination, because the bike he came to see had been subjected to a terrible rebuild, strange yellow paint, no seat and it half resembled a hot dog stand. It’d also been on the market for over a year. Clearly, no other prospective buyers saw the possibility of a perfectly built Nordic Cafe Racer that Tommy and the boys envisioned and then brought to life.