Monday, August 29, 2016
Sunday, June 12, 2016
The Japanese custom motorcycle scene is arguably one of the most influential and progressive in the world. Japanese workshops like Cherry's Company, Brat Style, Custom Works Zon and Ritmo Sereno have inspired builders around the world and have even been commissioned by motorcycle manufacturers to modify their newest models. Unfortunately in the past it has been difficult to get in touch with Japan's home builders and enthusiasts, but all that's slowly changing thanks to social media.
I recently stumbled across the Instagram profile of Cyu-G and his Yamaha SR400 cafe racer. Despite a language barrier we managed to communicate enough to put together the following interview to share the story of how his cafe racer came to be...
ROTCR: Let's start by you telling us a bit about yourself and your history with bikes.
CYU-G: I live in Nagoya, Japan, I am 49 years old and have been riding for 33 years. Some of the bikes I have owned in the past are Kawasaki Z400FX, Suzuki RG250, Honda CT110 etc. When I customise them I usually get secondhand parts from auctions or shops and I build my bikes in my home garage when I have days off work.
I'm also into British vintage leather jackets and I repair and customise leather wear. In fact the blue Lewis Leathers I wear in these photos were originally a one piece race suit that I split to make a separate jacket. My skills are self taught with both leather and motorcycles.
What was the idea behind the build of this bike and how long did it take to complete?
As I collect and customise vintage leather wear I thought that a cafe racer styled motorcycle would suit these leathers. So I built this cafe racer using a 1994 Yamaha SR400. It took me about 2 years to custom like this and I did all myself apart from the silencers, which were modified by Motor Rock in Nagoya.
What custom work did you perform to transform the bike into a cafe racer?
I replaced almost everything, apart from the frame, engine and wheels. The fairing is a secondhand MINANI item, which I restored and mounted to the frame, using modified brackets from a different fairing. I also fabricated the mounting system for the instruments.
The long alloy petrol tank was hand formed from Aluminium and I made the petrol tank retaining strap using the buckle from a vintage British leather jacket as a fastener. The alloy seat was originally from an unfinished Harley Davidson project which I bought a while ago and customised by myself. The original subframe was shortened, and a new one constructed that also holds the tail light, indicators and fender.
The battery and electrical system are hidden under the alloy seat. The seat base was moulded from FPR and then upholstered by myself in real leather. I spent a lot of time designing my ideal cafe racer, and also in making the many brackets that hold it all together. A portion of the exhaust pipe was cut off and extended using a 20cm section of pipe, which is angled at 15 degrees to kick up the muffler.
I designed the bike more for style than outright performance. However, the engine was still mildly tuned thanks to a racing carburettor and the modified exhaust. The front drum brake was also changed to a disc brake setup, and the front and rear suspension were updated.
What do you like most about the finished bike?
The way the lines of the classic fairing and its rectangular headlight flow into the streamlined alloy petrol tank. I'm also really fond of the matching aluminium alloy petrol tank and seat, with my hand made leather seat upholstery. The Silver finish on everything looks great with leatherwear of any colour.
It's the perfect bike to combine my two passions.
Photo by Keiichiro Netsuke
Special thanks to Leather Girl HIROKO
First read on returnofthecaferacers.com
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Written by Martin Hodgson.
In 100 years time when they write the history of the current custom motorcycle renaissance that we are living through you can be sure that Greg Hageman will be one of the leading names credited for spurring the revival. He can turn out a mean Harley, cafe a Honda and build just about any style of bike but it’s his incredible work with Yamaha Virago’s of the early ’80s that have really won him acclaim around the world; from magazine covers, to TV features and the trophies to match. But not only has Greg inspired a new generation of XV builders keen to tackle the old V-Twin he’s also produced a range of quality parts for his fellow customisers and without him leading the resurgence of the models popularity you have to wonder if the all new Yamaha “XV950” Bolt would ever have eventuated!
It was no surprise that when the Bolt was released and Yamaha arranged a build off between ten workshops that Greg took out the top prize with a vintage scrambler take on the all new XV. This latest build however is a little of the old and new, based on a 1982 Yamaha XV920 with a modern twist, the running gear is taken from a 1998 XV1100. “This bike was built for the perfect customer, someone who was more interested in performance, function and reliability than budget. He asked for a classic scrambler look that would mainly be ridden on road, but have the ability to occasionally stray off into the back pasture to check on his horses,” explains the main man from Hageman Motorcycles. Greg’s bikes are always picture perfect, like something you would expect to find on a new bike showroom floor, so the 82 frame might be thirty odd years old but you’d never know now that it’s had the Hageman treatment and is finished out in all black.
The standard subframe is gone and bolted to the back is one of Hageman’s own straight from his parts catalogue, these have become a must have item for so many Virago builders and while many have tried to imitate there is nothing like the real thing! With the customer wanting the option of taking short rides two up the subframe was modified to accept this seat that provides plenty of comfort and practicality without taking anything at all away from the looks. If Greg’s subframes provide part of the all-important skeleton of a world-class Virago build his fabrication skills have also stood the test of time making beautiful Benelli tanks fit perfectly on the Yamaha frame. This bike is no different with the classic tank getting a pair of Yamaha badges and a flip style fuel filler. “As you can probably tell we were really going for a British look, the owner had the tank painted by Moecolors of Tampa to match an old MG he was rather fond of.”
To let the paint work really stand out the front and rear fenders are not only exceptionally practical but have been polish to a brilliant shine. The addition of racing side covers is another Hageman signature that gives you more than a subtle hint of the inspiration of this classic Scrambler. With the Green Machine now looking a treat it was over to functionality as Greg’s bikes are built to ride and the suspension has come in for a thorough overhaul. The stock forks are swapped out for a late-model HD entire 39mm front end. Not stopping there the forks have been rebuilt with improved springs and preload adjusters. Out back the unique in frame mono-shock has been swapped out for a Hagon unit that also features a remote adjuster. Arresting forward momentum is done courtesy of a single drilled disc rotor up front and the beefy Yamaha drum at the rear.
But getting that momentum well and truly underway is the very clever engine swap that Hageman has performed mating the ’82 XV frame with the newer and bigger capacity ’98 engine. Before the big block 1063cc engine was fitted into place Greg treated it to polished stainless fasteners and a thorough detail. With just 2,000miles on the clock it was in brilliant condition and the far superior ignition and starting system leads to a classic bike with modern reliability. The standard carbies have been ditched for Mikuni VM items that add even more torque and top end performance. Given the owner wanted the ability to go off-road to check on his horses Greg had to come up with an exhaust system that looked good, was performance orientated but didn’t put a fright up the ponies. “The exhaust is something I made using Cone Engineering “Quiet core” mufflers, making the secondary baffles removable. It’s a two into one, into two system.”
With the major components taken care of Greg spent a good deal of time piecing together all the little parts of a motorcycle that turn a custom into a truly functional machine you can ride daily. “I added a Motogadget M-unit, Motogadget bar end turn signals for the electrics. The Speedo is Acewell, I like the simplicity of using and installing this speedo.” The flat track bars keep the look spot on and with just the small Motogadget switches, master cylinder and a single mirror result in an extremely clean look that is still utterly practical. The headlight gets protection from a mesh stone guard while an old school taillight sits out the back on the rear fender. There is passenger fold up foot pegs for the pillion and Greg put in special effort on the riders peg placement, as the customer is 6’4″ and wanted a comfortable ride that was still sporty in nature.
Finishing up the build are the excel alloy rims with stainless spokes that have been laced to the standard hubs. Rubber comes courtesy of Kenda dual sports “less aggressive since it’ll spend the majority of time on the pavement.” Which is yet another reason a Hageman build is such a work of art; they look good enough to enter any show and take home the trophies, yet never compromise on being a useable motorcycle. “The bike runs, rides and handles very well, mission accomplished.
The bike is most of all, very fun to ride, comfortable and dependable unlike so many customs on the market I see being built today. I like to emphasize both functionality as well as the cosmetic look.” Greg’s longevity and success is simply a commitment to delivering in every area a motorcycle should, with no corners cut and an end product straight from the top shelf!
First read on www.pipeburn.com
Sunday, December 6, 2015
If there’s a bike deserving of ‘legend’ status, it’s the Yamaha SR series: the air-cooled single has been in production since 1978, with just a two-year hiatus. That’s 35 years on the market, and an incredible run for a motorcycle. The SR400 has always been the volume seller, but we’d take the SR500 instead: it’s essentially the same bike, but with a different crank and a longer piston stroke.
It takes a lot to impress us with an SR these days, but we love this SR500 from Kruz Company, a small but perfectly formed workshop in Belgium run by friends Brice and Olivier.
Belgium is a somewhat quirky country, and there’s an appealingly offbeat nature to this build. “The customer was really open minded,” the Kruz boys tell us. “He came to the workshop with pictures of Japanese SR builds, so we studied that sub-culture for two weeks before making the first sketches.”
There’s a hint of chopper influence in the frame. Cut right behind the fuel tank, it’s been completely rebuilt in ‘sneaky snake’ style with chromoly tubes. For extra reinforcement, there’s a pair of bracing plates beautifully drilled to mimic bubbles.
The fuel tank comes from a Yamaha RS 125, heavily modified to fit on the larger frame tubes of the SR500. Even more heavily modified is the rear fender, from an early Harley Sportster. A taillight and plate mount projects outwards: “Because we hate side mounts!”
There are plenty of quirks elsewhere. The tiny front fairing is fashioned from an old Honda CB750 tank, and the hand-made seat—neatly bedded into the curved subframe—is finished with ‘upside down’ leather.
The SR500 engine is strong, but occasionally prone to overheating if heavily tuned. So Kruz have limited the mods to a bigger Mikuni carb and a custom exhaust pipe terminated with a classic SuperTrapp Megaphone muffler. A discreet oil cooler sits to the side of the engine, providing a little extra insurance and peace of mind. Look closely, and you’ll spot an oil temperature gauge just ahead of the tank.
The Kruz Company philosophy is to build “efficient and fun machines to ride.” Although Olivier learnt his trade on the European superbike race circuit, he values reliability as much as performance when building customs. The goal is to build “bikes that start in a flash every morning, and transport the rider with a certain class,” he says.
“A subtle balance between the modern and the old…”
Kruz Company | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Sébastien Nunes
first published by bikeexif.com
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Most people associate motorcycles with speed. But this pretty little SR250 SE from Hookie Co. is all about slowing down and enjoying life. With just 20 horsepower on tap, a mid-80s SR250 isn’t going to break any speed records. (Braking is via good old-fashioned drums.) But that’s just fine for Nico Mueller, the Dresden-based designer and builder of this bike.
“The speed of everyday life steals away creativity and ideas. So why not slow down, relax more, and concentrate on whatever you love to do?” he says. “For us, that means pottering around on motorcycles, being outside, and enjoying life.”
The SR250 SE is Hookie’s twelfth build, but the first in a planned collection called ‘Slow Down.’ “We got the bike in very good condition,” says Mueller. “The chrome was perfect, and it had just 10,000 km on the clock.”
As the Hookie crew stripped the SR250 SE down, they began collecting ideas. “We found most of our inspiration from classic Triumph bobbers—the solo seat, a clean rear section, and a peanut tank,” says Mueller. “We wanted to build a comfortable, practical and reliable motorcycle. And one that only reveals all the custom details on the second look.”
The peanut tank has been tunneled and massaged to get the cleanest possible lines, with the petcock discreetly hidden. The stock SR250 SE is a bit of a high rider, so the next job was to lower the forks by almost three inches. The shocks are YSS Eco-Line. The welding gear came out to create a new rear frame loop, with brackets to support the classic solo seat—and keep a pair of luggage straps in place.
Another pair of straps lash an insulated Thermobottle to the frame, perfect for keeping a supply of hot tea or coffee to ward off the chill of a cold German winter. A new wiring loom completes the restoration. It’s hooked up to a tiny Antigravity 4-cell battery, which powers the equally compact headlight and even smaller blinkers.
Hookie Co. bikes are always beautifully finished. At first glance this one looks ‘basic black,’ but there’s a twist: an ultra-glossy ‘black chrome’ finish on the tank. It’s one of many neat, thoughtful touches. “This isn’t a big bike with tuned carbs or bored-out cylinders,” Mueller says. “It’s a daily driver, and then your ride to the woods or the beach. It doesn’t matter how slow you drive, as long as you don’t stop.”
In an increasingly frantic world, that sounds like a philosophy we can happily adopt. Hookie Co. website | Facebook | Instagram | Images by David Ohl
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Based in Toulouse, France, Philippe builds bikes as Soyouz Cycles—an after-hours hobby which he describes as “just a bunch of friends sharing a garage.” And while his build might tick all the wrong boxes for some folks, we dig it for reasons that we can’t explain.
Instagram | With special thanks to François from Self Moto Service and the Soyouz Cycles crew.
Instagram | With special thanks to François from Self Moto Service and the Soyouz Cycles crew.