Kent’s Yamaha TR1

As a young whippersnapper, Kent started his two-wheel journey like many of us – on his trusty BMX push bike, naturally progressing through to Motocross on an YZ125. Motorcycling came as second nature to Kent, however, it would be years later that he would officially get a license that allowed him to ride through the concrete jungles.

Born in the picturesque New Zealand, bro, Kent moved to the UK when he was 13, and joined the Sydney motorcycle scene 5 years ago. Being a fan of Aussie-based builders such as Renegade Custom Cycles, Kent decided it was time to build his very own custom cafe racer. For his base-of-choice, he was drawn to the horizontal cylinders of a BMW R65. From a learner legal bike, he progressed to a completely customised BMW K1100 and, fast forward to his 3rd bike, and the one that he calls “a keeper” – his wild, daily ride – the TR1, originally built by Yamaha in 1981.

The Yamaha TR1 of the early 80’s was in fact more cruiser than café racer, more chill than aggressive, and to be frank, more ugly than Ms Universe (or Mr Universe for those who will claim we are sexist).

It is a 75-degree V-twin engine with a capacity of 981 cc and a top speed of 184kph. The engine is a stressed part of the frame, which makes for a bike that looks all-engine. Now, I know a lot of you are sitting there thinking “A TR1? Fuck off, that’s just a fancy way of saying XV or Virago!” Well, settle petal, the TR1 is chain drive with the XV being a shaft-driven machine. The TR1 was never going to be the bike that shifted Harley-Davidson riders to Yamaha, however in more recent times it has been a cheap second-hand bike that has proven to be a strong base for some pretty wild custom bikes.

An authority on the XV, TR1, and Virago custom build front, is Classified Moto. Possibly the first to start using this base to make custom trackers and cafe racers, Classified Moto have inspired a whole wave of these unique Yamaha customs over the last 6 years, including this one.

“The work of John Ryland was the inspiration for this project. I wanted a bike that was low maintenance, low tech and wildly customised while still being used daily through city streets.”

Kent chose a path not taken by many when modifying these cruisers, he took the somewhat dusty path of turning it into a machine that is competent on-road and, if required, off-road. Aesthetically, he wanted the flat-tracker look with a touch of the carbon fibre modern bike world. He purchased the tank and tail from BOTT POWER, a small Spanish motorsport engineering company. When deciding to use ARIAS pistons, custom cams, custom springs and bringing the bore from 980cc to 1065cc, coupled with the Mikuni TM40 flat slide carburettors, Kent quickly realised his 7L tank wasn’t even enough to do a Macca’s run.

This led to even further work for Darren Millichamp of DNA custom cycles, who was in charge of creating the bike of Kent’s most-recent dreams.

“I understood the tank was the tank and that wasn’t going to change, so we started to look at options to create an additional overflow tank running its own pump back to increase the capacity. Being a TR1 there wasn’t much space to play with, and this part of the build was probably the most frustrating part, however, we settled to slide it under the tail and in-between the swing arm and exhaust, giving the bike an additional 5L capacity.”

Next up were the wheels, suspension and swing arm. Wanting to shift this bike from cruise to sport, Kent opted to stick to the Yamaha family, and breed internally. He chose a R6 swing arm and wheel set up, utilising all the R6 discs and brakes; and R1 forks, wheel and brake set up on the front end. To ensure the bike had a similar rake and trail, Darren customised the rear to fit and created the CNC triple trees needed to marry this inbred together and finally, the wheels are wrapped in the Pirelli MT60RS specially designed for the Ducati Scrambler.

The exhaust was built in house by Darren, and upon asking him the question of how many pieces make up the exhaust, he put the phone down, went to the bike, and started counting.

“1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,73,74,75,76,77,78,79,80,81,82. Yep, 82”

Being a daily bike and wanting reliability, Kent settled on using Motogadget for the electrics, surrounded by a custom DNA housing which is the actual M-Unit on display to the world. This is possibly the first time the unit has been shown as a feature-piece on a bike build. The bike also uses the M-Lock, Motogadget speedometer and indicators; however, Kent shifted away from using the matching buttons and used the switchgear made by Ben at Extreme Creations.

To finish off the bike, Kent chose Renthal bars, R6 rear sets, ASV levers, and Extreme Creation brake reservoirs.

By far, this is the craziest TR1, XV, Virago we have featured, and possibly one of the only bikes with three names.


A few pieces from the archives