I wanna be…
There is something about the Yamaha XS line-up that resonates with most motorcycle fans. The epitome of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle, the XS bikes brought Yamaha’s ethos to the genre that already included the CB series from Honda, Kawasaki’s Z1, and Suzuki’s GS range.
From 1978 through 1981, Yamaha’s flagship in the UJM market was the XS1100. Its 1,101 cc inline four produced 95 horsepower and 66 pound feet of torque, enough to propel this 603 pound brute down the quarter mile in less than 12 seconds. The one downside to these powerful Yamahas—and it’s a big one shared by most of the XS1100s competitors—is that their engine technology far outstripped their frame and suspension technology and they handle like puppies on linoleum. Not exactly what you want in a bike that puts down those kinds of numbers.
In short, it was a sledgehammer. A pretty squirrely sledgehammer, but a sledgehammer nonetheless. These days, partly because they’re cheap, and plentiful, partly because they’re the bikes many of us fantasized about as kids, and partly because they’re just so easy to tinker with, UJMs are being turned into all manner of wild customs.
This one, that we first found on BikeExif, is gorgeous. Created by UpCycle Garage in Orange County, this white-wheeled café racer cum chopper (and yes that is the correct use of that word) packs a lot of eye candy in one mean-looking sledgehammer of a bike.
The whole rig sits three inches shorter courtesy of New Progressive Suspension shocks in the rear and a cut-down forks with new custom internals up front. The electronics have all been modified and upgraded to allow for keyless ignition and an alarm system. UpCycle rebuilt and rejetted the 1100’s Mikuni carburetors and fitted them with vivid red velocity stacks. The change in airflow is matched on the exhaust side by a new four-into-one megaphone from Mac. The wheels are powder coated white, and the tank hand-pin striped by UpCycle’s Johnny Nguyen. Rounding out the modernization is a new headlight with an LED ring running light and a modern, round speedo that replaces the XS’s stock units but maintains a retro feel.
Bikes like this are an example of what a high-quality builder with an attention to detail and unique artistic vision can do to resurrect an ageing bike and bring it into the twenty-first century. Bravo!