Remember that scene from Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum says “life, uh… finds a way”? His logic is simple – if something in nature has got even the most remote chance of happening, given enough time it probably will. A group of all female dinosaurs will eventually reproduce. Nickelback will, given enough time, write a song the doesn’t suck. And two custom bike genres which may seem mutually exclusive will eventually merge to form a whole new subspecies. Take this little Yamaha XT600 beastie, for instance. Half cafe and half tracker, it’s the latest creation from Portugal’s Redonda Motors. And while science may have never intended it to be so, we’re kind of glad nature took its course.
When Yamaha released the bonkers street-naked MT-09 with its lush torquey triple, the promise from the Japanese firm was that a baby brother was soon to follow. It seemed an odd move and out of step with most model line-up launches, where the most exciting stuff is saved for last lest the “lesser” bikes be overshadowed. But as soon as the first journalist cracked the throttle of the twin cylinder MT-07, any fears were quickly allayed. This was one hell of a fun machine! Now entering its fourth year of production, Yamaha Canada decided it was time to show the world that the little street weapon had more than one trick up its sleeve. So having seen the work of Rob Chappell of Origin8or Custom Cycles in Ontario, they brought him in to create another Yard Built beauty. Eagerly ready to take on the mission, Rob promised he’d deliver a bike that anyone at Yamaha would love to own. It was no empty threat, and the result is this go anywhere fun machine known as ‘60/40’.
As with the Sports Utility Vehicle craze of the last few years, it’s easy to write off the current Tracker and Scrambler rage as a triumph of style over substance. After all, where’s the corresponding boom in off-road riding to justify all these knobby tires and high pipes? The answer is that most of the bikes are only being ridden on the road. But what if you lived in a country that wasn’t strangled by parking lots and overpasses? What if instead you lived in a tropical paradise where off-roading was not a hobby but an everyday occurrence? Welcome to Indonesia and the world of Donny Ariyanto. Time to meet his rather elegant solution to the challenge; a wanna-be sporty Yamaha R25 that now couldn’t be better suited to its surrounds.
The 80’s yielded more horrors than just Thatcher, the Iran-Iraq war and permed hair – it also introduced Yamaha’s Virago line of motorcycles. Porky, uninspiring to ride and with styling verging on the offensive, they’ve become a favourite of the custom scene over the last ten years. And now Arkansas’ One-Up Moto Garage have turned their hand to the most forgettable of the forgettable line up, the little known Virago 500.
Being on the receiving end of many custom bike submissions, you tend to get a pretty good idea of just how prolific a bike shop really is. Some we hear from once a year. Some twice. And then there’s France’s Motomax Metz. Believe it or not, this here bike hit our inboxes little more than two weeks after their previous build. At this rate, we’ll be featuring another 26 of their bikes in 2017, and by 2020 France will be nothing but an army of cool Yamaha trackers and a load of fresh mud. But before that happens, please meet the rad-to-the-bone ‘Dirty Smoke’ XSR700 that will have caused it all.
You never forget your first motorbike, no matter how good or bad it was, that machine opened up your life to a whole new world. For most a limited budget and a young age means riding something that looks terrible, breaks down often and leaves oil up your leg. So you save your pennies for something better. Or maybe you have a little more cash to play with for your first ride. Sure you could buy one of the many characterless, learner legal “sportsbikes” offered new by any of the manufacturers. But there is another option and the UK’s Auto Fabrica have got it just right; a Yamaha SR250 known as ‘Type 4A’ that’s custom cool, a perfect first motorcycle and means nobody else on learner plates will be rolling just like you.
Headed by racer and motorcycle builder Dirk Oehlerking, Kingston Customs is a small workshop running out of Hanover, Germany. For this build, Dirk decided to take on two surprisingly young starters – a new Yamaha MT-03 and a 12-year-old by the name of Moritz Bree.
If motorcycles have earned the reputation as “widow-makers” then two motorcycles in particular can lay claim to being the most lethal assassins. Both are ’70s Japanese bikes from the golden age of two-strokes; the Kawasaki H2 750 is the Ivan Drago-style killer that will get right in your face and club you to death. But it’s the Yamaha RD400 that takes on the true Assassin’s creed, dispatching of its kill in a millisecond without the prey ever having seen what was coming. In Argentina, the land of bike builder extraordinaire and founder of Lucky Custom, Lucas Layum, the RD400 has been known since its birth as “la Mata Hombre”, quite literally “the Man Killer”. But such is the allure of the RD and its intoxicating two-stroke engine, that men will risk death to ride them and when they look this good it’s easy to see why.
Ed Burke and “Hap” Ueno. There’s two names that I’m pretty sure mean absolutely nothing to you, despite them being responsible for creating this, the Yamaha Virago. It’s because in the world of automotive design, most never get to see the limelight. Besides, the original Yamaha Virago range was not exactly the Brough Superior of it’s time. But over the 40-odd years that the bike has been in existence, it’s never been more popular than it is right now. And it’s all thanks to the insight and talent of Ed, Yamaha America’s Manager of Motorcycle Product Planning and Yamaha Japan Engine Designer, Hap. The engine-as-stressed-member design, the box frame as airbox, the single rear shock and the shaft drive – it’s all theirs. And this? This is what their vision, and that of Colorado’s 485 Designs owner Nick, has created. Meet an XV920 that ups the bar for Virago customisers everywhere.
It’s amazing how much the big motorcycle manufacturers have changed in the past ten years. Up until very recently, bike customisers were little more than pariahs to the factories. All their hard engineering work, undone in the fell swoop of an errant oxy torch or angle grinder. You could almost hear the engineers in Japan and Europe weeping in pain. And as for a factory dealer that might dare to try and make a few changes to the merchandise? If they were lucky, they’d find themselves selling second-hand Dneprs in Siberia… in winter. But my, what a difference a decade makes. Suddenly it’s raining factory customs. And for Yamaha, that means throwing money behind their ‘Faster Sons’ custom shop collaboration project. And the latest star of the decidedly successful program is this here XSR700 from French shop Motomax Metz. A French shop that just happens to be a dealer, too.