Written by Martin Hodgson.
I’ve been on a journey with this bike, not one that allowed me to twist the throttle and tip it into a bend, but a journey of discovery as to what makes ‘Fireball’ tick and how it was put together. It’s a journey that started with a love of the custom tank and over many hours grew to an appreciation of how a once failed attempt by a multi-national to do something new became a one off custom by a lone builder that blows away everything a billion dollar company attempted to achieve.
It’s easy to become jaded working here. Like some biking Roman Emperors, we get all the latest and greatest two-wheeled pleasures lavished upon us on a daily basis. The sweetest cafés, the plumpest brats and the most exotic trackers – all hand peeled and fed to us from a silver platter. Let’s face it, it’d be pretty easy for us to become spoilt. What am I saying? We are spoilt. But just as we find ourselves nodding off into a cool bike-induced coma, this appears in our mail. So, like a proud ruler parading a never-seen-before rhinoceros to a boudoir full of amazed onlookers, we’d like to present to you the ‘Cross’. What is it? It’s Thrive Motorcycles, that’s what.
Words by Ian Lee.
I’m a sucker for a board track racer. V-twin low slung bikes, with handlebars that droop so low they make clip-ons look like ape hangers. Their styling is perpetually cool, and the inspiration for this off the chain custom. When Yamaha Europe were looking for their latest workshop to collaborate with for the next ‘Yard built’ project, they made their way to sunny San Pedro, to the Matt Black Custom workshop. Known for their ability to mix old school cool with late model reliability, this Spanish workshop is the best choice for a fresh take on Yamaha’s cruiser. Meet Matt Black’s own take on the Yamaha XV950, ‘Playa del Ray’.
Words by Ian Lee.
If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. Whether a Pipeburn post, or project bike, there is nothing like the rush of racing that deadline for completion. Just ask Jared Johnson of Holiday Customs. The bike featured here today had the final touches put on it at 10pm on the night before The One Motorcycle Show. Utilising a UJM for his entry into the legendary Portland bike show, Jared gave the 1975 XS650 the Schwinn styled frame that the Holiday workshop is famous for.
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.
Most custom bike shops would gnaw off an arm to build a ride for biking royalty like Billy Joel. It’s the kind of job that can really put a shop on the map. So it says a lot about a builder when they not only complete such a feat, but then set themselves the task of going one better – just because they can. Welcome to the mind of Greg Hageman; one of the world’s greatest Yamaha customisers and builder of today’s gobsmackingly classy XV920R.
Written by Marlon Slack.
Made Men is a small Danish workshop that specializes in slammed and chopped bastard motorcycles. Their talents are not limited to bikes either – their website features a few early production Volkswagen Beetles dropped on the deck, a brace of BMX cruisers and a matte GMC van marked ‘Kidnapper’ with ‘free candy and stuff inside’ emblazoned on the rear. But their motorcycles are of the most interest to me – they’ve produced a few tidy CB750’s and CX500s but their best work is with their mid-life-crisis-on-a-budget specials like the Honda VLX and Suzuki Intruder. All are distinctive, blacked out and mean looking – and none as striking as this 1997 Yamaha XVS650 Dragster.
A little while back I received an invitation from Yamaha to the XJR1300 European press launch. Naturally, I was thrilled to be part of it and sent back a RSVP with the requested passport information saying I would love to be involved in the European launch. So my mind wanders off, picturing where we would be riding the XJR? Maybe we would be taken on the legendary German autobahn where pesky speed limits have been slain? Or perhaps we’ll disappear down the picturesque Amalfi coast with the Mediterranean breeze flowing in my locks? Or could we be taken up one of the most famous and photographed roads in Italy, the Stelvio Pass, with its endless hairpin turns? Then reality hit when I finally read the details of the invitation. The launch was actually going to be held in Sydney, Australia! What? That’s where I live. So after the initial disappointment, I realised being a native could actually come in handy while doing the press ride, like being comfortable riding on the left hand side of the road… but more on that later.
To celebrate the VMAX 30th anniversary, Yamaha approached JVB Moto to build a bike that would become a fitting tribute to the heritage of this legendary machine. It has even become more fitting because the original Japanese designer Kenji Ekuan passed away recently – who not only designed the VMAX but also the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. We are sure that JVB Moto’s design would have made Kenji proud. We wanted to find out more than the usual Yamaha press release, so we hit Jens vom Brauck with a few questions. He is a man whose work speaks louder than words, but we did try to get a few insights out of him:
Pipeburn: Must be a good feeling to be approached by the mighty Yamaha to build them a bike. How did it come about?
Shun Miyazawa asked me when we met at Wheels & Waves in France last year. I just couldn’t say no.
Hurricanes. Typhoons. Comets. Tempests. If you need any more evidence that the world’s weather is going to hell in a carbon-based handbasket, look no further than poor old Blighty and her Old Empire Motorcycles. The Pipeburn Bike of the Year runners-up in 2014, they’ve been suffering the worst luck weather-wise since their inception. And to make matters worse the catastrophes look set tho continue with this, their Yamaha SR-based ‘Lightning Mk. I’. Hang tight, boys. Hang tight and ride like the wind.