For the vast wealth of knowledge that has been placed at your fingertips by the global growth of the internet, there still remains some of the best stories left untold. While Board Track racing boomed in the US in the early part of the 20th century, across the Pacific in Australia and New Zealand, Speedway was the name of the game. With huge prize money on offer, riders from America, Europe and the UK headed down under to try their hand, and the development of the machines for each discipline became heavily influenced by one another. It’s here that Indonesia’s Studio Motor picks up the tale in 2020, building a true one-off custom creation that combines out of the box engineering with a heavy dose of those early days, to turn out one incredible race-inspired Yamaha XS650.
We’ve known Donny Ariyanto and the team at Studio Motor for the best part of a decade and they’ve always managed to be one step ahead of the game. Despite the added difficulty of acquiring many of the popular bikes and parts in Indonesia, they’ve used hard work and innovation to always knock our socks off with their latest builds. Having matured through all incarnations of the custom scene, this latest offering called ‘The Skinny’, that started life as a 1980 badged Yamaha XS650, is truly their best to date. While the build draws inspiration from those glory days of racing on the circle, it is also the peak of their own skinny style, finally perfected.
The condition of the donor bike really didn’t matter, so long as the engine turned over, that was all the team needed to know. This build started life with just the 650cc lump, along with a pile of metal sheet, aluminium plate and a bunch of pipe in various sizes. “The goal was to make a bike based on our style and that meant making everything by ourselves. For the first time, we made a rolling chassis with a hardtail, designed in the style of a board tracker. This frame made even lower and also gives more of a short wheelbase to accentuate the strong impression.” But while the frame resembles a hardtail, with a very similar rear loop to a Speedway bike, not is all as it seems.
First, the team started with a mix of seamless pipe in 1” and 1.25”, bending it up and offering each piece up to the jig to be tacked into place. With the shallow rake dialled into the headstock, the traditional style with a single backbone and centre post, with twin downtubes began to take shape. The measurements allowing the bike to sit low, stay skinny and still have just enough room to fit the engine in. Extra gussets are added around the head for strength, with bent tube doing the same in the rear and the axle plates finally welded in to determine the overall wheelbase given the initial calculations.
Now the extra trickery could really begin, there is no swingarm like on the Britten V1000, but taking their cue from the legendary Kiwi, the shock for the rear is placed in front of the engine. The prolink style setup pivots through a series of linkages from the front of the frame to the rear across a set of actuating rods that then apply force through the final linkages that themselves pivot off the traditional location of the rear axle. It not only looks the business it also performs exceptionally well and helps make the short wheelbase possible.
To allow the front end to keep up a new set of forks and trees was picked out, rebuilt and polished within an inch of their lives. To get it all rolling the team then had a job of selecting the wheel and tyre package and they perfectly fit the theme, “TK Japan Rims 19 x 2.50 inch front and 19 x 2.50 inch for the rear to emphasize the slim board track style. For the tyres, we chose Shinko SR241 3.50-19 for front and rear.” Then to help it all stop a modern caliper and disc setup was adapted at both ends. As this was being done another fabricator was doing the bodywork and it more than does justice to the rest of the bike.
“We continued to make all body parts, with 3.2 mm aluminium plate for the gas tank, side battery box and rear fender based on a custom design. After the bodywork was done, our best friend 69 Nerakatau made his move! They chose dark silver from Sikkens and combined with dark brown. After the painting was done, we decorated all body parts with a gold leaf and pinstriping technique.” Even the rear struts for the fender are a work of art and the underslung seat support topped with a leather solo seat adds some serious class to the race machine. But never shying away from the old school inspiration, the front and rear lights are distinctly vintage, coming from Jute.
Of course, the team wasn’t going to build such a sweet race-inspired machine without giving the engine a hop-up. Completely overhauled, painted and polished up the whole thing has been rebuilt for extra ponies, along with the pod filtered carbs. Then it was back to the welder to craft a set of brilliant drag pipes that spit flames and emit a hell of a sound. Once again Studio Motor has offered up a custom motorcycle that both impresses and inspires, and they aren’t slowing down! “From the initial concept to the first test ride, it’s the endlessly fascinating process of creating that keeps us going. The custom motorcycle scene is as unique as the bikes it yields, however, we all share a common thread, a passion for two wheels!”