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If you’ve wondered why second-hand Yamaha Viragos are demanding ridiculous money these days I know who you can blame. Greg Hageman. As head of Hageman motorcycles in Iowa, he’s near single-handedly turned a daggy 90’s cruiser into a favourite of the custom scene with his incredible builds. This time around Hageman have knocked another one out of the park with this amazing Vincent-inspired 1981 Yamaha XV920.
Maybe it’s an old school mentality that I should let go, but no one works on my bikes but me. Knowing you tightened that axle bolt yourself gives a little added comfort when speeds start going past the ton. But if he didn’t live on the other side of the Pacific Ocean I’d throw my keys to Greg Hageman in a heartbeat! He’s a master mechanic who never fails when it comes to building incredible customs that ride as perfectly as they appeal to the eye. So it’s easy to see why Rebel Yell Bourbon entrusted the future custom bike hall of famer to knock out a give-away machine for one lucky customer. The prize? A go anywhere 2015 Harley Davidson Sportster 48 that tips its cap to the AMF years.
You don’t have know Hageman MC to recognise their work. Seen those Virago cafe racers? Greg Hageman helped create that look. Oogled the Yamaha SCR950 Scrambler? That was a shameless riff on his builds. His work is clinically excellent and his influence on the scene is profound – he’s like a motorcycling Bono, but without being an insufferable dickhead. This time around he’s tackled his first BMW, a 1983 K100RS. And he wasn’t confident it would come out looking this good.
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!
Never fear, Hageman is here! Needing no introduction, Greg Hageman AKA “Doc’s Chops” of Hageman Cycles is one of the leading hands and pioneers of the custom motorcycle renaissance. He’s also one of those guys who is a builders builder, I know I’m not the only one who before attempting a new build sees what Greg has done with that make and model, both for inspiration and to see how it’s done right. It’s no surprise really, motorcycles are in his veins having grown up on a farm in Rural Iowa in a family where trips to the dealerships had him dreaming of those sweet rides before he was old enough to reach the handlebars. But it’s a lucky rider who gets to throw their leg over his latest build, a 2005 Harley Davidson XL883 Custom that brings more than a little racer to its new cafe look.
There’s something that always intrigues me about taking a Harley off-road. Like the James Bond Lotus that goes under water, or the Space Battleship Yamoto, there’s something unexpected yet just so very cool about the out-of-context-ness of the situation. For a bike that seems so much a part of America’s road culture, it’s off-road history is undeniable and despite the company’s current dirt shyness, it seems that the brand can do nothing to escape the call of the dust. In that spirit, he’s a man who really needs no introduction with a bike that probably does. It’s Hageman’s brand new Harley XL 1200 scrambler.
High school graduations often end with parents giving their kids a special gift. I, for example, got a ball point pen with my name engraved on it. But when your Dad is friends with Greg Hageman, one lucky girl got this 1973 Yamaha TX650 retro racer. That my friends is some kind of gift!
The artist and engineer usually come at their work from completely different ends of the creative continuum and often go together about as well as a bull in a china shop. But on the rare occasion they do mix well, the results are truly spectacular – and this Custom Yamaha Virago known as “GoGo” just happens to be one such example.
It’d be over five years ago that I first saw a café’d Yamaha XV. It was the same British racing green model that you’ve probably all seen by now, planted in a European backstreet across some scattered fallen leaves. Something in the back of my mind clicked, thinking it was a great reshaping of a forgotten middleweight cruiser. That was the last one I saw for a while but now, years later, it seems that they’ve been popping up with increasing regularity and with an increasing level of fit and finish. Heading up this accelerando of quality builds is Hageman MC in Tampa, Florida, who have wheeled out this scrambler-inspired 1981 XV920R.
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.