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Custom of the Week: ‘Turbo Maximus’ by Derek Kimes

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To call ‘Turbo Maximus’ a restomod would be selling it short. It’s a re-engineered masterpiece.

A week ago we stumbled across this remarkable Yamaha at the Forged Invitational show. ‘Turbo Maximus’ took top honors at the Jekyll Island event, which is not surprising when you consider the XJ900 engine transplant, the properly engineered turbo conversion, and the delicious race replica bodywork.

A few days ago, owner Derek Kimes wheeled the Yamaha into the studio of the man who captured the atmospheric images from the show—photographer Steve West. And so we can now dig into the story a little more.

Derek is a relative latecomer to the world of bike building. After serving eight years in the US Navy, he left the beaches of San Diego and moved to Atlanta to pursue a degree in engineering. While studying, he started working on bikes to learn hands-on skills, and found out that Bryan Fuller’s shop was located nearby.

“My savings were drying up and I needed a part-time job. I sent an email to Bryan and to my surprise, he responded. I started working part-time, sweeping floors, taking out the trash and doing small tasks to help the guys at the shop.”

“I am so grateful that Bryan gave a guy with no real fabrication or welding background a chance to prove himself at his shop. Without that chance, this bike would never have happened.”

Derek spent many nights and weekends in the shop, working on his skills after hours. But despite that, this is the first and only bike he’s ever owned.

“I bought it used, in completely stock form, in 2005,” he recalls. “It’s a 1982 Yamaha XJ750 Maxim, originally painted black. I enjoyed riding it but wanted to make it better.”

Then Derek fell in love with the XJ750R (0U28) that raced in Japan in the 1984 Suzuka 8 Hours—the only XJ series bike that Yamaha prepped for the track. And that’s where the inspiration for this restomod came from.

“I thought to myself, how would an OEM build this? I have learned to respect the amount of engineering that a manufacturer puts into a model; matching the quality level of OEM parts is a very difficult task.”

So Derek decided to transform his old XJ750 into a modern, fuel-injected, boosted superbike. “People said I was crazy—why do that to a tired old XJ? I wanted to prove them wrong.”

The 750 engine came out, and a 1983 XJ900 mill was swapped in. It’s been been fully rebuilt by NASCAR engine builder Jordan Hersey of Atlanta, GA, with 9:1 custom forged pistons, adjustable camshaft sprockets from an FZ750, and titanium valve springs from Kibblewhite.

The turbo system itself is extremely neat. “I wanted it to look like the bike was designed originally to be turbocharged. You see so many turbo bikes with the turbo hanging way out, or the charge tube is wrapped around the engine.”

To avoid this, Derek chose a Borg Warner S1BG turbo. It’s big enough to give him the 200 horsepower (on E85 fuel) that he wanted, but small enough to tuck in between the frame and front wheel.

To hide the intake charge pipe, he’s cut a channel on the bottom right side of the tank, so it can travel straight back from the intercooler. Above the turbo there’s a custom Bell intercooler—which left a problem with locating the oil cooler. So the oil lines are now routed underneath the bike to the rear, where an Earl’s oil cooler sits just in front of the back wheel.

Despite the extensive engineering on the engine, the front part of the frame is original. Further back, Derek’s fabricated a new tail section and swingarm, converting the rear suspension to a monoshock setup using a 5-way adjustable piggyback rear shock.

It’s not just a grinder job. Derek had the frame laser scanned, measured and straightened at GMD Computrack for precise alignment, and powder coated for protection.

Then he installed forks from a 2015 Yamaha R6, upgraded with Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 cartridges. And to prevent wobbles when the full 200 horsepower kicks in, there’s an adjustable Öhlins steering stabilizer.

The quality of finish on the bodywork is just as astounding as the engineering. The front fairing is a F1 replica by Airtech Streamlining, heavily modified to fit with the help of fiberglass specialist Patrick Henry of Atlanta.

Keen eyes will spot that the tank is from a Yamaha XS750. Derek relocated the mounts to install it on the XJ750 frame, and then topped it off with a Racefit fuel cap. The tail unit is a completely custom one-off though, with a seat upholstered in Alcantara and black leather.

To call ‘Turbo Maximus’ a restomod would be selling it short. It’s a re-engineered masterpiece, and one of the few occasions where mechanical brilliance is matched by a keen eye for aesthetics. We can’t wait to see what Derek builds next.


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

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Custom of the Week: BMW R100RS by Bolt Motor Company

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MOST CUSTOM BUILDERS are juggling careers, building bikes as a side gig. Adrián Campos falls into that category: he’s the sporting director for Campos Racing, the team founded by his father Adrián Campos Sr, the former Minardi F1 driver.

Adrián Jr. is surrounded by high-tech missiles capable of 208 mph (335 kph), but he’s also nuts about motorcycles. So he started customizing classic bikes, as an antídoto to the ultra-modern race machinery that absorbs his working day.

His first build garnered enough interest to turn his side gig into a fully-fledged second business. Bolt Motor Company is now on its seventeenth build, and employs seven team members.

Bolt shares a workshop in Valencia with Campos Racing. But while the race team preps cars for the Formula 2, Formula 3 and GP3 race series, Adrián is swinging spanners on bikes like this stunning 1982 BMW R100RS.

We’ll admit it’s not the wildest custom boxer we’ve seen. But even though the style is well established, the perfect proportions and level of finish are something else. And the client wasn’t even looking for anything fancy; “He wanted a comfortable cafe racer for two people,” says Adrián, “so that’s what we did.”

The donor arrived in a pretty good condition, but it left in an even better state. There’s fresh paint and powder everywhere, from the motor right through to the forks, frame and tank.

Bolt tweaked the airhead’s stance by lowering the front forks internally just over two inches, then installing a pair of Hagon shocks at the rear. The fuel tank is stock, but the subframe and seat are custom made. The subframe’s a bolt-on affair, and the main frame’s been detabbed and cleaned up.

The taillight’s a particularly nice touch. Bolt built it into the seat rather than the rear loop, along with integrated rear turn signals. The whole setup’s barely visible—until it lights up.

They’ve also added some room for the customer to ‘customize’ his BMW at home. There’s a second tank and seat in a different paint scheme, which can be swapped out via four fasteners for the seat, and one for the tank. The second seat has it’s own plug-and-play taillight too.

Bolt have kept things practical too. The BMW’s airbox is still in play, and it’s also equipped with a BMW oil cooler and crash bars. Plus there’s a discreet inner fender at the rear. The exhaust headers have been shortened and run into a pair of generic cone mufflers, with the side stand relocated to work around them.

The cockpit’s sporting new handlebars, grips, bar-end mirrors and Motogadget bar-end turn signals. There’s a new master brake cylinder too, with some really neat plumbing. Up front is an LED headlight, tucked into a custom-made bucket.

Bolt rewired the bike from top to bottom and tucked away as much as they could. A set of Motone switches have their wires running inside the bars, while a Motogadget speedo has its cable routed through the BMW’s hollow steering stem nut.

This sort of consideration is rife, with every last nook and cranny cleaned up. We’ve spotted stainless steel fasteners throughout the build, nifty choke pulls on the carbs and a OEM-looking Bolt Motor Co. plaque on the side of the motor.

The classic white BMW motorsports livery is on point too. And Bolt have shunned the ubiquitous Firestone Deluxe Champion tires, going for the saw tooth tread of Shinko Classics instead.

We doubt that Bolt #17 could lap a track anywhere near as fast as a Campos race car.

But it’s just the sort of simple, classic ride we’d pick for getting to the track in the first place—via some leisurely Spanish back roads.


This article first appeared on Bike Exif. It’s republished here by permission.

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Video: Watch Sarah Lezito show you how to drift a motorcycle

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Yes, drifting on two wheels is possible. Especially if you’re an insanely talented stunt rider from France.

There are a few stunt riders worth following across social media and YouTube but few get the numbers of French stunter Sarah Lezito.

Shot in a cold, wet and snowy location, it’s hardly the easiest of environments for riding a motorcycle – although possibly better for skids! – but the control from Lezito, and her instruction, is captivating.

Why learn how to drift? Well, Lezito says that it might help in learning how to save from slipping, keeping the balance on your bike or just improving your stunting skills.

And her top tips?

  • First find a small bike – a 50cc or 125cc machine that’s easy to handle.
  • Find a slippery spot, like a wet floor after some light rain.
  • Put hard tyres on the rear and more air in the front tyre.
  • Protect everything… On you and your bike.
  • Prepare to crash. A lot.

We’re hoping she’ll be adding to her channel over the coming months and that this is the start of a series of ‘How To…’ videos from the young stunt rider.

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