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Custom of the Week: Yamaha ‘Meteor’ TRX850 by Etto Motorcycles




Racing motorcycles makes about as much sense as customising them, which is what makes both pursuits so utterly enjoyable.

Club racer and fabricator Ian Davis founded ETTO motorcycles to indulge his passion and share a wealth of experience. ETTO’s first build is this TRX850, which was exhibited at Bike Shed London 2017, although back then the handmade fuel tank was raw aluminium to best display Ian’s talents.

Ian decided on using a TRX after spending the 2010 season battling his pal Mike who rode a fully sorted 850, the parallel twin offered great drive out the corners and sounds like something Hades would ride. The hunt for a donor led to a trip from Nottingham to Bournemouth where a chap was selling a pampered ’97 model. Ian recalls the moment when the TRX’s future was disclosed to the now former keeper “he made the school boy error of asking me what I was going to do with the bike, (after I’d given him the cash). I thought he was going to cry when I said the angle grinder was coming out and most of it would be junked!”

Being an ex-racer and suspension technician Ian knew exactly how he wanted this bike to handle and simply chucking an R1 front end in wasn’t going to cut it. Experience aboard a Ducati 749 race bike led to the decision to source an USD fork, four pot Brembos and lighter Marchesini wheels from a road going 749. The fork was rebuilt with linear springs, new seals and bushes, then mounted to a custom top yoke. The setup is a touch lower than the squidgy stock fork, steepening the rake and sharpening the handling. The rearsets are from LSL with the linkage reversed for a 1-up, 5-down race pattern.

A more aggressive approach was taken at the rear where Ian wielded an angle grinder chopped the subframe off completely, replacing it with a much lighter aluminium structure mounted to new tabs on the main frame. The height and angle are intentional to weight the now much more capable front end. An upgrade to a YZF750 swingarm is a common upgrade for the TRX but Ian went one step further and skinned the box section with aluminium to replicate a beefier MotoGP style. The shock is by British suspension experts Nitron, Ian chose a road biased NTR1 with a black rather than trademark turquoise spring.

A simple 2-pot caliper replaces the heavy YZF united and the agricultural torsion arm made the bin, superseded by a stainless, rose-jointed linkage. The Ducati’s rear wheel took some persuading to mate with this Yamaha concoction, 6mm was milled off the sprocket carrier to achieve perfect chain alignment. Avon AV79 Ultra Sports make sure none of this effort is wasted.

As the donor was a well cared for, low mileage example it didn’t need opening up, just a through service and valve adjustment before a few hours on the local dyno – run by TT and Macau racer Dan Hegarty. Ian wanted to eek usable mid-range punch from the gutsy twin rather than impress mates with big bhp figures. That said, after a few runs the new Mikuni 40mm flat slide carbs were up-jetted from 145 to 165 which equated to a hike from a stock 75 to 87bhp. Combined with a drop in gearing from 17/39 to 16/41 that new frontend should claw the air through the first couple of gears.

Despite clearly being an accomplished fabricator (making a fuel tank from scratch is no mean feat) Ian wanted a specific look for the exhaust and seeing as tubing with conical sections are notoriously tricky to get right an ex-Skorpion employee was enlisted to help. Nigel from NRP exhausts made a big-bore stainless system with no joints or obvious brackets and soda blasted the finished article for a near titanium appearance. These cross plane cranked twins sound wonderful from idle right up to the redline and this stubby system should really bark.

When exhibited at our show in May the unpainted tank certainly left Ian’s panel beating skills nowhere to hide but he fancied a touch more zing and had it painted in a retina searing orange by local firm Pro Bodywork. The seat and tail progressed through a few iterations, finally leading to this traditional café-humped unit which needed modifying and re-glassing to meet Ian’s high standards. Viking Seats in Kent delivered a simple cross stitched seat pad.

As this bike is to be enjoyed on the road rather than track a few concessions were made. A 5 ¾” Bates light up front, compact rear stop/tail lamp and LED indicators mounted to an ETTO tail tidy should keep the MOT man happy and an all-in-one KOSO CRD64 speedo will let Ian know when he’s having too much fun. And that’s exactly what the first test ride yielded, huge grins and an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, Ian told us “I opened the throttle and was met with a visceral roar from the engine and short shifted up through the box – barrp, barrp, barrp. I got back literally laughing my head off. The last time I felt like that on a bike was when I was a teenager and bought my first RD350LC.”

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

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Harley-Davidson release two new, old Sportsters



New Harley Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special come with new graphics, chrome and high bars.

There are a lot of new motorcycles coming out of the Harley-Davidson stable – at least one hundred by 2027 in fact, so we can expect a frequent flow of model revisions and changes to be revealed over the coming months and years.

The two new bikes announced today by Harley aren’t hugely new or exciting – but the new graphics are pretty sweet and ape-hanger bars are always worth clinging onto.

‘Since its inception, the Sportster has offered the perfect combination of size, power and character that makes it appealing to so many different riders’ -Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson V.P. of Styling & Design.

The Harley Sportster was introduced in 1957 and has now hit somewhere in the region of 30 varying production models. Along that time owners have got pretty used to stripping their bikes down and customising/re-inventing them. It’s this fact that Harley say they’ve used as inspiration for their two, new machines.

The Forty-Eight Special comes with a tiny 10 litre tank, new, steamroller front-end and 8 inch high Tallboy handlebars. Compared to the regular Forty-Eight, there’s also a lot more chrome.

The Iron 1200 features a ‘fast-back’ café seat, mini-ape black handlebars and a glossy black fly screen. It’s also got more range with a 15 litre tank and fancy colour paint/graphics. There’s also a lot less chrome and a lot more black.

So that’s two more of the 100 bikes out of the way.  And a new electric just around the corner


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Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycle will be a ‘Revelation’ (according to trademark filings)



Harley-Davidson trademark casts revelatory eye into future of their electric motorcycle plans.

If you were to have said a year or so ago that arguably the world’s most famous motorcycle brand would be frequently linked with falling sales and financial woe then most people would have said that you were barking mad.

However, with recent stories of millennial woe and mounting board concern the immediate future of the famours Bar and Shield brand is far from certain.

With a commitment to releasing 100 new motorcycles over the next ten years however, the folks at Harley-Davidson motorcycles do at least seem to have a plan to tackle their problem, and – along with Indian Motorcycle – they are preparing to take that battle to uncharted territory.

Last month the news broke that Harley were looking to get their electric motorcycle out and onto the streets by the end of 2019 and now it would seem that we know a little more about what form that new electric technology might take. Or the name of it at least.

According to a recent trademark application filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office then name that Harley Davidson will use to refer to their new electric drive-train technology will be ‘Revelation’.

The interpretation by our (genuine) friends over at Asphalt & Rubber is that this will not be the name of the final motorcycle however, but rather the name used to refer to the technology/motor itself.

We’re not sure if the final name of the electrified Harley will be that of the Livewire moniker attributed to its pre-production/concept that was produced as a test vehicle back in 2014, but the choice of ‘Revelation’ for the motor technology is an interesting one to say the least.

The company already uses similar sounding names for it’s Evolution’ and ‘Revolution X’ V-Twin engines, so ‘Revelation’ isn’t too far of a stretch for the imagination, but it’s certainly an interesting one…

The Book of Revelation in Christian faith is effectively an apocalyptic prophecy.

The notion that it will be the old, warhorse Harley-Davidson to be the first major manufacturer on course to release a production electric motorcycle could well be considered an event of almost biblical proportions.

Source: USPTO via Asphalt & Rubber

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