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Custom of the Week: Yamaha WR450F ’81’ by Iron Cobras




IF YOU’RE A FAN of blasting big trail bikes down forest roads, the Yamaha WR450F is probably on your shopping list. And if you also love the brutal beauty of the early Paris-Dakar bikes, Evan Scott has built a machine just for you.

The man behind Iron Cobras has hooked up with Answer Racing to build a custom WR450F that amps up the retro rally raid vibe without sacrificing performance.

Despite his reputation, Evan hasn’t been a lifelong biker: he only got into riding about 17 years ago, and after a misguided obsession with modern sportbikes, he got into dirt riding and never looked back.

He now builds custom motorcycles and exhaust systems, with a growing sideline in metal fabrication, and caught the attention of the motocross gear maker Answer Racing.

“Answer contacted me about eight months ago,” Evan recalls. “I met with creative director Scott Sagud, and we came up with concepts for two Dakar-inspired bikes: one modern-style rally bike, and one retro bike.”

Evan and Scott worked together on concept drawings, blending the ideas each wanted to see in the builds. “Our focus was not only on making sure the bikes looked good, but also making sure they performed like the Dakar racers we were using for inspiration.”

The 2017 Yamaha WR450F is a good platform for a high-performance build. It’s a big trails bike with a punchy ‘reverse-slant’ engine—the same four-valve single used by its stablemate, the YZ racer. You also get fuel injection and electric start.

This WR450F is called ’81,’ and the name is a clue to where Evan and Scott got their ideas from. “The 1981 Yamaha XT500 Paris-Dakar bike has been on my inspiration board for a very long time,” says Evan.

“To me it’s one of the most classic racing bikes of all time. The huge desert tank, the gold rims, and the livery are just amazing.”

“I wanted to take a lot of those aspects and use them in our build. So we handmade the six-plus gallon tank out of aluminum, and incorporated the factory fuel injection.”

“The tank was one of the key aspects of the build for me: I wanted to showcase what I can do with metal shaping. It was a monster of a gas tank build, and took about a week and a half to complete.”

That beautiful tank, it’s worth noting, has no body filler on it. Evan painted it himself, right down to the classic Yamaha graphic.

The headlight on the original XT500 Dakar bike was tiny, but Evan wanted a big rally-style lamp. So he’s installed a Hella seven-inch LED and wrapped it with a vintage-look cowl.

At first glance, the big fenders look vintage too—but they’re actually new, and made from practical plastic.

“The seat is a custom unit we made in the spirit of any early 80s enduro bike: big, boxy and comfortable!” says Evan. “Then we rounded off the build with the item that Iron Cobras is best known for—a stainless steel exhaust system.”

It’s TIG-welded and sporting a custom heat shield and an internal spark arrester.

“The best part of the WR450F build was seeing everything come together,” says Evan. “And seeing the reaction from everyone at our partners Answer and WLF Enduro. That’s what kept me going.”

As is often the way, the worst part was the time pressure. “In the end, I wound up building both of the bikes in less than two months. I was literally putting the finishing touches to the WR450F six hours before I took off for The One Moto Show in Portland.”

Most show bikes get trailered to the venue, or ridden very carefully and polished thoroughly afterwards. The two Iron Cobras bikes, on the other hand, got thrashed. The journey from SoCal to Portland took a week, and here are the photos to prove it.

“It was difficult for me to see the bikes that I just finished building being ridden hard off road,” Evan admits. “It was a conflict between wanting to push them, but also see them make it to the show in one piece—which they did!”

“We wound up displaying the bikes just as they came from the trail—covered in dirt.”

We love glossy paint and gleaming chrome as much as anyone. But when bikes still look good after being used and abused, you know they’re something special. Nice work, Evan and Scott.

This article was first published on Bike Exif. 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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