In the Summer of 2018 a few of us took part in a ride in the Antwerp Area organized by Belgian friends.
It was then we saw a intriguingly beautiful 18 year old Kawasaki GTR 1000 rebuilt as a caféracer.
The owner told us this was only his first production.
We stayed in touch with Mechelen (Belgium) based builder Steve Rombouts as he was working on two new concepts during the winter period.
This spring his shed gave birth to Japanese ‘Twins’.
He switched to the Yamaha XJ900F as donor bikes for both builds. For Steve they were an obvious choice. He explains: “The Yamaha has a lovely frame which is constructed in such a way that it looks good when you create open spaces in the design. No airbox, no battery case. Just lots of room for imagination”
But the choice for the XJ900F was also made from a technical point of view. The engine is known for its performance and reliability.
Steve’s starting point for creating is solely based on his gut feeling. What he feels and what he sees have to be aligned. He chooses to follow his own rules when it comes to building. It is right if it makes him feel good.
When starting off our Belgian friend did not have a specific budget allocated for these projects. He did not want to limit himself. The same goes for the style. “Why just build a caféracer if you can create a Scrambler version too? “ he says. We are sure many manufacturers subscribe to that point of view when designing new models.
It was only two years before his first build that Steve got his license to ride. Bitten by the ‘building Bug’ he decided riding was not enough. He needed a bigger challenge, resulting in the Kawa caféracer.
Now, as if working on two creations simultaneously was not enough, he also set out to completely rewire the bikes to fit his desire for a compact and extremely reliable electrical circuit. But that was not all. The engines were taken apart, cleaned and fitted with new parts where necessary.
The colour of the bike is an intricate part of the look of any design. In the case of the two Yamahas the matches with the ‘feel’ of the bike is perfect. A very nice matt green – Triumph Tiger inspired – paint job with some very tasteful details just nail it.
Responsible for this part of the build is an extra added Belgian Beauty.
Nancy van Santvliet runs her own Antwerp based workshop ‘Bike Breakers’.
We think she is also ‘one to watch’ for more than one reason
They are two very good looking bikes, especially considering our Belgian hero has only had his license to ride them a little less than three years ago and riding inspired him to start building too!
We think there will be more to come from his workshop in the future. We can’t wait for this shed builder to turn pro one day.
According to Steve both bikes now have a slightly different road holding and steering qualities, but both are equally fun to ride not in the least due to the nice linear powerband which is so typical for the Yamaha 900 engines.
Modern technology with an ‘old skool’ look. Just how we like it.
List of modifications:
- Refitted all wiring
- Carb cleaned and tweaked
- Replaced all oil sealings
- Custom made exhaust system (keeping noise within regulations)
- all wheel bearings replaced
- creation of custom seat pan
- bending and mounting sub frame
- all welding done inhouse
- Front fork: original XJ900F
- Swingarm partly XJ750seca and XJ900
- Rims: XJ900F (original)
- Tank: Honda Magna 750
- Custom made headlight unit
- Leather seat: home made using leather from Steve’s old sofa!
- chassis: ’87 XJ900F
- Rims: ’83 XJ750seca (as Steve wanted to have rear drum brakes)
- Tank: Yamaha XJR1200
- Front fork from a XJ750seca
- swing arm ’83 XJ900F
- gauges/dashboard: Koso
- seat: similar to the Scrambler
- License plate frame: Custom made stainless steel tubes