Written by Tim Huber.
Created by Bruce Lee in the mid-to-late 1960s, Jeet Kune Do is a philosophy and form of martial arts that places immense importance on the development of one’s spirit and skills, while the combat aspect puts a major emphasis on adaptability, fluidity, and inflicting maximum damage through minimal effort. Mert and Can Uzer, the brothers behind Istanbul’s Bunker Customs, have very much applied Lee’s teachings and philosophy to their latest Yamaha Yard Built build — entitled “Chimera” – honing their skills in order to painstakingly develop a motorcycle design that offers a hugely transformative impact through minimal modification.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
Tributes can take on many forms, the words offered at a funeral or a photo that lives on the wall. But there are others whose lives demand so much more, having lived the maxim, ‘Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.’ Having walked in his older brother’s influential shadow, often just making the tea that fuelled both stories and bike builds, Alec Birkbeck knew his ultimate eulogy had to be forged in steel. With guidance from above and a desire to live up to his brother’s natural gift, it’s a stunning Yamaha TR1 just for Kevin.
Written by Martin Hodgson
It’s long been said that travel broadens the mind and there is nothing like a trip to the Sahara desert to teach a great many lessons. It was there a few years ago amongst the enormous and unforgiving sand dunes that custom bike builder Boy Janssen found a new respect for the humble Yamaha XT. But back home in the Netherlands, he discovered they could be tuned to be just as good on the street and he’s been turning them out for clients ever since. Now the head honcho of Pancake Customs serves up a two-piece combo with matching Yamaha XT600e Desert Sleds that make the perfect pigeon pair.
Written by Martin Hodgson
When you embark on the journey of building a custom motorcycle half the battle can be in simply picking the base you choose. Like a good pizza it sets the foundation and with the availability of all the right ingredients, it can be almost impossible to go wrong. But choosing to start with an ’80s sportbike immediately sets the builder a challenge; they’re usually ugly, rarely modified by others and almost always in terrible condition. Totally undaunted Markus Klett of Motopola chose a 1985 Yamaha XJ600 and custom-crafted all the right toppings for this tasty treat.
Written by Martin Hodgson
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb joins the Isle of Man TT as the two most prestigious and legendary time trials in all of motorsport. The ‘Race to the Clouds’ pits man and machine against 156 unique turns on the way to climbing nearly 5000ft in altitude before reaching the summit, high in the Rocky Mountains, some 14000ft above sea level. The demands on the motorcycle are only exceeded by those on the body and tragically some won’t make it home. But for Thomas Kendall the call of the mountain was strong and he re-built his 2008 Yamaha YZ450F in preparation for his first attack on the lightweight class.
To say the Yamaha XT500 is a legendary bike would be an understatement. More than 40 years later, it is still one of the best thumpers in motorcycle history. After winning the Paris to Dakar rally shortly after its release in 1976, it paved the way for future enduro and off-road bikes. But what if it was released today as a larger capacity scrambler? Jesper Johansen from Slowbuilt in Copenhagen, Denmark, wanted to build a larger capacity XT with all the retro cues of the original classic – only bigger. “I always loved twin shocks dirt bikes,” he explains. “Especially the Yamaha XT500 and HL500 – had a few over the years, especially the white 1976 model XT with the iconic tank decals.”
We all have family heirlooms that have been passed down from generation to generation. Like expensive silverware, bone china plates, antique furniture and the most precious of all – motorcycles. We love a good story about a bike being in the family for decades and this is one of those tales. From as young as five years old, Jerrett Bellamy from Ontario, Canada, has been riding this exact Yamaha XT500 with his dad. “He made up some foot pegs that would clamp onto the frame so I could ride in front of him,” recalls Jerrett. “I can remember riding with him hanging onto the handlebar and us popping little wheelies.”
Over the years the trusty Yamaha XS650 has found itself to be one of the most popular donor bikes around. And why shouldn’t it be? It has the Japanese reliability and an engine and frame that lends itself to many different custom styles. Which is the reason Martin Castelberg from Moto Incendio in Switzerland has held onto this bike for so long. “I restored the bike and originally built a café racer and rode the bike for 5 years and about 50,000km. During this time, I learnt everything about this XS650 – that’s why I like to say my first car was a motorcycle.”
Words by Scott Hopkin | Photography by Ian Davidson
The dust has settled for another year on the third Machine Show based in Braidwood, NSW, Australia. The show features a Bike Build competition every year, where dedicated motorcycle builders build unique pre-1989 bikes specifically for the show. This year they had 36 entries of all different styles and marques – from choppers to café racers and everything in between. One of the stand-out builds was this Supercharged SR400 tracker by Keeley Pritchard. As soon as we saw the 1986 SR400, we knew a lot of blood, sweat and tears had gone into the bike, but didn’t realise how young the builder was. Keeley is a 22-year-old motorbike mechanic from Sydney’s Northern Beaches who works for a garage called Surfside Motorcycles. In the lead up to the show, when everyone had gone home and his boss had turned off the lights, he turned them back on and worked well into the night bringing his creation to life.
“It took about two years from the moment I started unscrewing parts until the finished product was ready.” This is How Panache’s Charles Murillon kicked things off when explaining exactly how he sunk two years of his life into this rather beautiful little Yamaha XS360…