Recently I’ve posted the 10 Best Yamaha Virago Cafe Racers, and I guess it already needs an update… This awesome XV920 cafe racer is built by Jakub Beker from Poland and owner of Ugly Motors. The bike was recently featured on another website. Usually, I don’t repost stuff from others, but sometimes I make an exception, just like today. Words are by Jakub:
I’m 31-year-old IT specialist who found his passion in real steel 70’s and 80’s motorcycles. I got a lovely and very patient wife and two kids. I work alone and only in my extra time because I nee a day job to cure home finances. My workshop could be called semi-professional. I got some really cool stuff there because I work on bikes for over three years, but it’s all financed from my own back pocket. My workshop is located in a building on the 1st floor, so I have to pull up the bikes with a self-made crane through the window. With this massive 1983 Yamaha XV920 is was pretty extreme!
This XV920 Cafe Racer was made for one of my clients. We’ve met in October 2016 made some vision and define some basic routes we’d like to follow with this bike. Then we’ve started to pull some ideas from the web. It’s obvious there were few bazillions of Viragos out there but we’ve wanted to make it stand out and be more refined than the bikes we see on the internet. My client was very aware of what he liked and got a very good taste of color matching and features he wants and the ones he wants to skip just by a simple law of budget.
I’ve made it clear that the donor bike got to be in a mint condition if he wanted to make the build fast. Next day he saw this 1983 US-model online, just 100km from Gdańsk where he lives. He went there and made a good deal with the owner.
After I’ve picked up the bike, I’ve set up a clean and fluid process build, it was easy enough because I’ve made XV750 just one year ago. First I’ve needed to place the original bike on the new forks. I’ve bought ZX12R ones which are huge and stiff enough to pick up 240 kg of bike weight. I’ve got very talented lathe craftsman as a friend so he made all the conversion (ZX12R fork to XV frame). Then I’ve decided that upper triple clap was crap with integrated clip-ons so I’ve made a new one and added “traditional” fork mounted clip-ons. Then I’ve used Honda CBR 954RR rear shock to get rid of the leaking original gas shock and make the stance more aggressive. It was welded to a new frame mount. Next step was to fit the tank and design rear frame. I had a vision for that in my head for a long time. Simple and clean: 1 inch tubes with minimal frame mod, and integrated LED tail light.
After that, we’ve made this 100% custom exhaust. This job was made by another friend of mine who is one of the best welders I know. He joins stainless steel like it’s made from one piece. I always like to underline that we got very good craftsman’s here in Poland. Then I’ve made the seat from Italian leather. At last I’ve focused on the gas tank. To make it as raw and man-made, I’ve tried a new technique which was to zinc raw steel. I’ve made olive-gold stripes and cover it with a clear coat. It looks raw and nice with grinder marks here and there but in the sun it shines like a diamond.
I guess the design process was the easiest part, I’m saying that not to flatter myself, but with this model biggest challenge is to make it technically work well. We all know what happens to the starter motor in old Viragos. I know some XV’s start pretty good but it’s still in another universe to let’s say how Honda GL500 (from the same era) starter works. I’ve ordered almost every starter motor part from Yamaha dealership and then it worked fine and reliable. XV’s had some problems with carburetion but it was also fixed.
The best part of this project, in my opinion, is that the bike is a collective of all the ideas and refinements I can imagine from the projects I see all around the world. Even if you look at the exhaust you might say it’s like others one Web but look at the front 2in1 collector from a side. It lines up and makes the bike looks even cleaner. Another good part is that I’ve managed to build this bike in fairly low budget and only 3 months.
Photos by Bartosz Mokrzycki