Three weeks might not sound like a long time, but when you’re waiting for your new bike to travel over 4000kms across Australia it’ll feel like a lifetime. An even longer stint of 16 years being bikeless were about to be fixed in the greatest way possible for Mirko.
Growing up in Ticino Switzerland, by the time you were 18 you’d already have at least 4 years riding experience behind your belt as young teenagers could get mopeds such as the Piaggio Ciao 49cc to customise and ride around. Mirko’s heart would fall in love with racing bikes, and a few months into receiving his restricted licence at the age of 18 he grabbed himself a Yamaha RD125. “My mates and I rode our bikes very hard, and soon enough the RD125 showed its limits – especially uphills. Ticino is the Italian part of Switzerland at the foot of the Alps and there were plenty of valley rides and fast rides along lakes and motorways. It was very easy to use all of the power of a 125cc machine.”
Mirko would go on to own a myriad of other sports bikes as gained more riding experience and let his passion for bikes thrive, soon owning a Suzuki DR250 and a Kawasaki GPZ600. “I bought the GPZ600 off a mate, it had the rear fender cut back and a 4 into 1 exhaust. At the time it was a dream bike with power to spare! I’d ride a lot on the weekends with the bike and even on holidays to Italy or Spain.”
In 1996 came Mirko’s first new bike, a Honda CBR600. “This bike was a huge step up from the previous Kawasaki, it was a lot more powerful and much faster. Tyres did not last longer than a few months at the beginning and with every change a softer compound that lasted even less. It was all about grip! I remember at the end of each ride we would check each other’s tyres to see who had not used all the edges. It was a very regretful sale, but with the prospect of coming to Australia no tears were shed.”
After his move to Australia, Mirko focussed his energy and financial resources on another passion – sailing. “I sailed competitively double-handed 14’ dinghies for a number of years and 6 years ago I got into a single handed performance foiling dinghy with mixed success. I never abandoned my passion for motorbikes. I guess I just parked it for a while.”
It would be a 16 year hiatus from bikes for Mirko, but the urge to get back on two wheels and riding again would come calling his name. Upon the opening of Deus Ex Machina in Camperdown, ideas and desires were soon sparked. “For the next 10 years I started noticing more and more Café Racers on Sydney roads and I slowly learned more about this side of biking culture. Sometime last year I came across Greg Hageman’s work, who is an outstanding builder of custom bikes and Café Racers. I appreciated his work, and more specifically what he could do with the Yamaha XV. The reason I was drawn to the Yamaha XV is due to the twin cylinder engine. Hageman’s interpretation is simple and sleek. Transmission and suspension are there but invisible. The chassis is also host to the carbs air intakes.”
After trawling the internet for inspiration for this new bike purchase, Mirko was sitting on the fence between a Ducati Sports Classic and the Yamaha XV models. Sure enough after much search he found an XV750 for sale in Perth that he immediately fell in love with. “I made contact with the seller and organised a friend of a friend (Thanks Andy and Dan) to inspect it. A week or so later the bike was on its way to Sydney via a bike transport specialist.”
Having originally been built in Darwin, this was a bike that had already travelled all of Australia. Built by Steve Hardy, it was inspired by the work of Greg Hageman who specialised in XV café racers. Here’s a look at what Steve put into this build. “I bought the bike because it had low km and shipped it to Darwin from Brisbane. The build took me 18 months and initially I had planned on a basic design, it being my first build. However at each stage I changed my plans to make it the best I could.
Many of the improvements meant shipping the parts from the USA as they were just not to be found here and this added significantly to the cost. The wheels were imported from America and are from the XV700 model, which did not come to Australia. I had them shipped to Brisbane to have new rims and SS spokes installed. It would have been easier to just ship hubs over but I wanted to ensure the offset was right.”
“The front forks are off an XV1000 simply so I could have the twin discs, which improves stopping and gives a more balanced look. The forks were internally shortened by 40 mm. Calipers are off the Yamaha XVS1300 to keep the Yamaha DNA and have good stopping power. The bike was rewired for all the new gauges and switch blocks.”
“The tank was also imported from America. I struggled to choose a colour, and made a few false starts before settling on black with a subtle orange metal flake that comes through in sunlight.
I did all of the work, except the wheels, myself. This includes all the paintwork and mechanicals and electrics. I also installed and tuned the Mikuni carbs. I also fabricated the exhaust headers back to the mufflers, which was a challenge particularly for the rest cylinder.
The bike turned out much better than I had expected. When you look at a bike like this you don’t realise, until you do it yourself, just how much work is involved. Every component requires so much thought, refurbishment or engineering to get it right.”