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Custom of the Week: Yamaha ‘XS700-R’ by Cafe Racer SSpirit




Yamaha’s XSR700 is an undeniable hit with owners, the press and with us here in the ‘Shed.

What cannot be denied though is the awkwardness of the XSR’s frame and fuel tank setup. Perfectly fine when kept in its original form but frankly a right pain in the tits when trying to mould to the tried and tested, perhaps now traditional, aesthetics of the current custom scene. There have of course been some jaw dropping examples of builders overcoming this hurdle, but occasionally at the detriment of fuel capacity and practicality.

Cafe Racer SSpirit, a familiy business from San Sebastian, Spain, has taken a slightly different and bolder approach. the workshop was started in 2014 by Juan Carlos, Hugo and Juan Pablo who have a good few builds under their belts but the chance for a slice of the big time came thanks to Yamaha’s Yard Build program. For Wheels & Waves 2017 Yamaha wanted to show-off their custom muscles under the Biarritz sun and planned a seven-strong lineup of modded XSRs. The CRSS team was chosen as the Spanish entrant and a crate arrived in February containing the donor.

Hugo explains the thoughts behind the project, “Nowadays, people tend to customize bikes from the 60s-80s adding high quality accessories such as Öhlins suspension, engine tune-ups and so on. We were thinking the other way round. Our aim was to work on a modern motorcycle and make it look more vintage, inspired by the Yamaha TZ 750 amongst others.” The methods used though were far from retro. Adhering to Yamaha’s strict Yard Build code of maintaining street legality and leaving the frame free from grinder and welder attacks the guys simply unbolted the subframe and dummy fuel tank cover and broke out the rulers and calipers.

The bodywork was initially mocked-up in perforated steel and then scanned by local rapid prototyping company Tumaker 3D. Once happy with the designs clever machines 3D printed the tail, seat and tank cover (the stock fuel cell remains beneath, now with Rizoma cap). Mounts are standard and integration with stock architecture is key to any successful Yard Build, these parts are easily replicable and will be available as over-the-counter bolt-ons for any XSR owner. The wheel discs and radiator guards are laser cut from stainless by experts Grabolaser.

Lo-fi modifying often yields just as good a result as fancy printers and frickin lasers. The headlight, front mudguard and pegs are from a 1982 XV750 and the handle bar is simply the stock high-rise flipped upside down for a clubman style. The bit that had me all excited is the faux cooling fins which I presume had been machined and painted. They have, it’s just that Yamaha did it, way back for the XVS650 Dragstar. The fit (modified slightly) is uncanny and transforms the look of an already handsome powerplant.

A K&N filter slots into the stock airbox and the exhaust by Exan not only looks the business, and slightly old school, in blasted stainless but should sing a fine tune too – the 27o degree firing order of the 689cc parallel twin sounds naughty when unleashed. Motogadget’s infamous M-Unit controller dishes out the electrons from the M-button switchgear to Rizoma LED indicators and stop lights. As previously reported the stock speedo is such a nice design and really functional, the guys appear to agree and left it in place. The rear shock though isn’t the XSR700’s finest feature and there are a few companies making upgraded replacements but Brit-based Hagon seem to have the jump on most. They supplied an adjustable unit which the CRSS crew disassembled so as to colour code the spring old English white.

Juan Carlos, Hugo and Juan Pablo not only made the deadline of this year’s edition of Wheels & Waves but the Punk’s Peak startline too. Yamaha’s Yard Build freight train appears not to have run out of steam yet, which can only be a good thing for custom workshops like Cafe Racer SSpirit.

This article first appeared on The Bike Shed; It’s republished here with permission.

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Custom of the Week: Yamaha SR500 ‘Scrambler’ by Daniel Peter




SCRAMBLERS ARE A HOT TOPIC. Build one, and you’re sure to be judged solely by how well equipped it is for hardcore off-piste use.

But that’s not all that scramblers are about. Daniel Peter compares his latest build to his childhood BMX—and it’s pretty much how we feel about modern-day scramblers too.

“When I was four years old, my BMX bike became my life,” he explains. “It was so simple, yet so fun. Just wheels, pedals and brakes. I’d ride it to the beach, jump a few curbs along the way, race my friends. Those were the good days.”

“30 years later, I set out to build a motorcycle based on the same principles. There’s nothing on this bike that doesn’t need to be there. It has wheels, a punchy engine and great brakes. I didn’t even put a speedo on it, because I never looked at the one on my last bike.”

Daniel works as a photographer in Chicago, but wrenches during the winter to keep his passion for riding alive. He keeps a workshop in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, outfitted with a tool cabinet, a welder, and a 1940s South Bend lathe.

This 1978-model Yamaha SR500 is the fourth Yamaha 500 he’s built to date. “It’s the most simple, yet the most thorough, of the bunch,” he says.

The motor’s been bumped to 540 cc, with a grocery list of go-fast bits that includes a lighter XT500 crank, a new piston from JE and a Megacycle cam for better torque down low.

R&D valve springs with titanium caps, a Powerdynamo ignition and a high-flow oil pump from Kedo round out the package.

Hoos Racing refreshed the crank and cut new valve seats for Daniel, but he tackled the rest of the rebuild himself. Every single bearing and seal was replaced along the way too. As for the carb, it’s been swapped out for a 39 mm Keihin FCR flatslide number, fed by a fat K&N filter.

The exhaust system is a combination of a custom made stainless steel header, and a Cone Engineering muffler.

The SR rolls on 17” supermoto wheels, borrowed from a KTM (front) and a Honda CRF450 (rear). They’re wrapped in Pirelli MT60 Corsa tread; a 120 up front, and a chunky 160 on the 5” rear rim. (“It juuust fits,” says Daniel.)

The brakes have been upgraded with a mix of Brembo and Beringer parts, with an RCS 14 radial master cylinder up front.

On top is an aluminum Yamaha XT500 fuel tank, wrapped in a paint scheme “inspired by an unforgettable riding trip through Baja.” Just behind it is a new saddle from MotoLanna, with a new kicked-up subframe loop.

It’s just about spring in Chicago, so Daniel must be itching to rack up the miles on his SR500. And we’re betting it’s going to be impossible to get him off it.

A version of this article first appeared on Bike Exif. It’s republished here with permission.

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Icon claim back the streets in their latest, epic video



Street’s Not Dead.

Regular readers will know that we eagerly await anything released from the US streetwear firm Icon Motorsports. So the moment that a video drops from the Portland firm we’re bound to pay attention.

That’s an interest piqued double when they post it alongside what is essentially a call to arms…

“Street’s not dead. If you think it went away, you’d be wrong. Street’s still here undermining pompous authority, rejecting standards, and bucking the status quo..”

And they’re not kidding either. With the Icon clad rider thrashing their Kawasaki ZX-10R through city streets, car parks and even a public fountain at one point, there’s a lot to take in.

Couple that with their usual loud, Icon style and you’ve certainly got a statement of intent.

(Don’t try this at home kids).



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