There is often a lot of praise heaped on those who are first in an industry, the early innovators who kickstart it all and have their name up in lights. But just as important are those who sit back and observe, let things shake out and then arrive fashionably late to the party. Back By Lunchtime Customs from Oxford in the UK are the latter and founded by Stephen Gentry who has made his name around the Bugatti brand, their entrance into the custom bike world should have everyone paying attention. Stephen’s first build is this clean as can be 1981 Yamaha TR1, with flawless foundations, it sets the bike and the brand up for a long and successful ride.
Looking at Stephen’s resume it’s clear that he could have built a big dollar bike to compete with anyone. But with endless experience in vintage car restorations, this was his chance to step outside the box and dip his toe into the custom bike world. “When designing and building this bike I put a lot of attention to the area of cleanliness so the bike takes on a simple but almost manufactures look in detail.” This is where you see his skill shine through on this build, not attempting to be overly lavish but to get every detail just so.
But bike’s aren’t new to him, his Grandfather raced a Velocette KTT 350 and various other machines back in the ’50s and his Dad worked in the industry at a major Kawasaki dealership as the manager and took the family to the drag strip where he got his two-wheeled fix. So when it was time for Stephen to go to university he did it right and completed his studies in engineering at Oxford, followed by a five year apprenticeship. In 2000 he formed his main business and it is there he and his team specialise in the authentic restoration of vintage Bugattis.
So the Yamaha would pose a different challenge to the normal day’s work but Stephen had a particular reason for choosing the model. “The idea of the TR1 build was the chain drive rear wheel which was going to allow me to install the small diameter and wider section rear wheel,” he explains. The donor bike had previously been given a basic bobber conversion with a tank and seat change, but this was all discarded as the BBLC build commenced. With a new coat of black, the pressed steel frame and swingarm look better than new and were ready for their new additions.
On the back bone Stephen went for a left field choice and fitted up a fuel tank from a Kawasaki GT550. The beefy lines give the bike a whole new look and are a welcome change to the now all too common Mohave tank conversion. At the rear things get just as interesting and keep the new lines flowing with a custom alloy subframe that exposes plenty of the glorious mechanical parts below. Over the top is an alloy seat base that rises to a deliberate and aggressive finish that is completed with distinctive taillight of the Aprilia RSV4.
Covered in a stunning leather and perfectly stitched the seat itself is the right mix of the Aprilia inspired cues at one end and a neat tank hugging factory finish at the front. Completing the tank is a machined filler cap conversion and the paint ties the leather hue in with the gold mechanical components. “Black and gold colour scheme with a heavy red flake in the lacquer over the tank really makes for a sparkle,” Stephen smiles. The Koso LED headlight gives the lighting a modern feel and is paired up with a Koso digital speedo for an ultra-clean look.
The front end itself is no longer the skinny old stanchions but has been perfectly swapped out for a complete change to a Honda CBR600RR setup from a 2005 model. Not only do they look good but the adjustable forks, big discs, and radial-mounted calipers offer a significant improvement in every way imaginable. The Honda rim is joined at the rear by a Ducati 696 item with a custom sprocket carrier fitted before both were wrapped up in sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres. Stephen then swapped out the shock for a Yamaha R6 piece, while the rear disc and Brembo master are operated by a tasty set of machined rearsets.
The engine wasn’t left alone either with his considerable engineering skill at his disposable Stephen pieced together the stunning exhaust. “It’s a 1.5” into 2” straight-through system, 2 into 1 design, keeping the equal length pipes the same helps the way the engine performs.” The stock wiring loom was pulled and a new one built, completely invisible, it’s based around the market-leading Motogadget m-Unit blue. Everywhere you look there is another detail to enjoy, from the introduced parts to the factory fresh engine restoration that leaves not an inch of the bike looking anything but flawless. We should expect no less from a man who spends his hours on the famous Bugatti marque, and with this terrific TR1 in the bank, it’s with bated breath we wait for what’s to follow.