It seems the British armed forces seem to have quite some of their men wrenching and riding motorbikes!
A few posts back we featured the Honda CB500T by Daniel Martin a Royal Marines commando and now we honor the brainchild of another military man; Chris Roffey.
Inspired by the Honda CB750 used by Daryl Dixon one of the lead characters in the 2013 TV series ‘the walking dead’, the star of ‘today’s show’ decided to modify a 20-year old (at the time of writing) Yamaha XJR1300.
The British protagonist of this story has spent a large chunk of his life in the Queen’s army. This brought him to places all over the world, or as he describes it: “I saw some of the triumphs from Zeus in Bangkok and particularly liked the T120 Boronze (as featured on Bonnicifation) and my final idea came from a combination of that, Daryls bike and few other ideas from the thousands (!) of pictures I downloaded. All along I wanted a Triumph but couldn’t afford it.”
Continuing: “There were so many ideas out there but I wanted something good looking but also comfortable to ride. I had a low budget agreed by the ‘long haired Colonel’ and after going from the CB750 to a Zephyr, I finally settled on an XJR1300 as I liked the base shape and style.”
Minimal spending plan
Chris set out to build his project on a minimal budget.
His military background is evident when you see his neatness in summing up the cost for all parts:
Other bits: £70
Nearly all the work was done by our soldier himself. The only things he decided to outsource were the seat upholstery, the tank decals and the exhaust mount.
Outsourcing the seat was a wise decision, as this is a specialist’s job and often, when done by builders themselves, ruins the look of the bike if not done properly. However, in the case of this Yamaha, we think it looks mighty fine.
Involving the missus
BikeBrewers were left in the dark about whether the wife’s employer knew about it or not, but all of the building took place in the backyard of the place his love works during office hours.
We are clueless as to what kind of business Mrs. Roffey is in, but there must have been room enough for her hubby to do his thing. He removed the rear fairing and chopped off the rear framework. After that he bent the remaining bars inward so the 2015 XJR seat he bought for the project would fit snugly.
As things were moving ahead smoothly, Chris decided to stick to the back yard and continue with the build. Next phase as per his words: “I painted the tank in VW limestone grey, which actually didn’t quite have the beige tones I was looking for, but never mind. I then painted the engine, swingarm and forks in black and added fork gaiters. I replaced the clocks for single digital speedometer with all the same lights and info apart from an oil warning light and replaced the indicators and mirrors for some smaller profile ones. I chopped 4 inches off the exhaust and then added a couple of leather saddle bags and changed the tyres for some Heidenhau K60 Scouts.”
The march continues
Rather than spending lots of time fiddling around our builder decided to just get the bike on the road and deal with further tweaking in due course.
He explains: “As a military man I prefer to continuously move forward, rather than stand still or retreat” he smiles. To continue after a short pause: “It’s still a bit rough around the edges but I now plan to gradually tweak and tidy it by painting up the callipers and discs, replacing the brake and clutch master cylinders and levers, having the wheels powder coated and possibly relocating the ignition so I can have the speedo centered. The frame may be in for a strip and powder coat over the winter months too. But I definitely prefer to ride the hell out of it during the riding season rather than tinker it to death in the shed.”
Response from the audience
Chris was surprised by the tyres, as they really made difference to the ride. According to him the bike feels fantastic on the road and he just loves to thrash it around.
Many people have already told him it reminds them of a bike from the war, which really pleases the builder as that was part of the style he was looking for. Still he may change the seat for a smaller one over the winter in order to get the right balance of seat and tank.
Famous last words
“One thing that struck me on this journey is how helpful and friendly the motorcycle community are! The forums offer brilliant advice and guidance without any of the idiots on there like other communities who would rather ridicule your questions than help.
Anyone I contacted for info and advice came back with more than I hoped for and really helped me to get my project done, and particular thanks go to Justin and Marcel who gave me some good info and guidance!
I’m looking forward to many years ahead and hopefully some more projects.”
Well, Chris so do we and please keep us posted on further upgrades on this bike!
Yamaha XJR1300 in its original state