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…
How do you haul ass in Hollywood? You go full metal jacket on a breathtaking Urban Enduro that’ll cruise with Bentleys on the Boulevard, before heading to the hills where the stars live to rip it up on the rough and rugged roads. But first you need to pick a platform with an iconic status and a Paris-Dakar pedigree…
When you mention a Yamaha XT to any bike enthusiast a few things come to mind. Yamaha’s XT series set the bar in off-road racing for a long time, and since then they’ve been synonymous with durability, performance and reliability. So of course, I have one rolled into the garage that looks anything but…
The Red Clouds Collective are a Portland-based outfit that make bomb-proof waxed cotton moto gear. And luckily for us Seth and Casey Neefus, head honchos at Red Clouds, also use the business as a front for making gorgeous custom bikes, like this pair of incredible Yamaha XT500s…