MAJOR LASER. Wrench King’s ‘War Zone’ Yamaha XJ Apocalypse Scrambler
Written by Andrew Jones
On Any Sunday, The Great Escape and The Wild One. These are the highbrow motorcycling movies that we all name-drop as being one of the reasons we got into motorcycling in the first place. But let’s face it, it wasn’t just them. There were plenty of more embarrassing shows that pushed our buttons, too. CHiPs, Megaforce, Battlestar Galactica and Mad Max are all up there, schlock-wise. Taking that idea and going nuts with it like a laser blaster in a hall of mirrors, Dutch shop the Wrench Kings have just ridden out of the wasteland on this, their new Yamaha XJ600 scrambler.
“Lately, we’ve been working a lot more with companies,” notes Wrench Kings owners, Joost and Take. “We build them the best marketing tool you can get: a custom bike. Recently, we made a Moto Guzzi V7 for clothing brand Vanguard and two cafe Yamaha TR1s for moto supply store Voordeelhelmen. At the moment we are working on a type of crowd-funding project with the company Motoshare which will see us make an R1100R tracker which will be rented out for 3 months and then given away as a prize.” Now that sounds like our kind of integrated marketing activity.
The donor bike was a humble and particularly rusty Yamaha ‘Diversion’ XJ600 that was supplied by the customer, Jan. “He got it at an auction in his hometown,” notes Joost. “The purpose of this auction was to raise money to get a local man the medical treatment he needed, but we decided that it had been underwater at some point in its life. When people ask us what style of bike it is, we usually tell them that it’s our style, but if we had to categorise it we’d probably call it a ‘modern scrambler.’ ”
“Jan wanted something rough and different. Something free-spirited, apocalyptic and a little bit sci-fi. Not your average bike, yet still subtle.” So the three sat together, brainstormed some old-school themes and, like a laser bolt from the blue, the ‘Warzone’ Yamaha was born. “We were so inspired by the brainstorming, we created a movie poster to bring it all to life.” Fingers crossed Tarantino buys the rights.
Wrench Kings have a system for building their bikes and the priority is always to make them run right first. “Otherwise it’s shit in, shit out,” chuckles Take. With the creative nailed, they started the design process while also ensuring that all the details were sorted before the build and not during. “For the first disassembly we left it on its wheels, with the engine still in. This allowed us to modify the frame to get the exact lines we wanted. Once it was spot welded into place, the bike was completely disassembled and we cleaned up the frame.” All parts were sent for powder coating and then the tedious work started in earnest.
And then, the painting. “We always take the time to get the lines right, as a 1 millimeter difference could either make the bike look perfect or make it look like an overweight elephant. Then we start putting it all together: with the engine in the frame, the swing arm and forks are mounted.” Next, the electrics. “In this bike, we replaced all electrics with the Motogadget Blue system, so there’s no relays and no fusebox.” Then all the fresh body work was mounted and it was ready for the scrambler’s debut test ride.
The boys go on to explain that this is a short version of their building process. Apparently there are way more steps involved; they have even designed a small Excel program for building the bikes to guarantee clients get what they want for the budget and that everything is agreed upon before the build is started. Talk about high tech.
“For a while now we’ve wanted to build a new type of rear frame; we came up with an interesting exoskeleton idea. The rear frame is one 5mm plate, which removes the need for tube. We designed it all in the Solid Edge software and had it laser cut at our neighbour’s shop. After this we still had a lot of moulding to do to get it exactly into the shape we wanted, but now it flows beautifully from a smooth rear end into the scrambler’s rather bulky petrol tank.”
“What we like best about the build is its combination of smoothness and roughness. Yes, it is possible. It’s a really good ride and as you can see everything is smooth with no wires spoiling the looks. Also, the suede grips, rear frame and the colours really kill it. Add the Motogadget system and Jan doesn’t even need a key to start it.” And let’s face it, who needs to be fumbling around looking for the keys to their scrambler when those purple lasers start to fly. We hate it when that happens.