Too pretty for the dirt.
When people think of Yamaha flat track racing, two things come to mind: Kenny Roberts and Iwata’s glorious ‘speed block’ livery. Though King Kenny was already winning 500cc Grand Prix world titles in 1981, Yamaha sent 75 Virago-based XV750 Flat Tracker motors for he and Mert Lawwill to develop for the AMA Grand National Championship.
Just two years later, all parties abandoned the project but at least one XV750 race machine made it back to Japan. That flat tracker eventually landed at the door of Takashi Nihira’s Wedge Motorcycles shop. Nihira’s client not only wanted to restore the steed back to its original glory but to also pay homage to Yamaha’s flat tracking heyday.
Gallery: 1981 Yamaha XV750 Street Tracker
Starting by tearing down the engine, the Wedge team equipped the 750cc V-twin engine with new pistons and overhauled the bottom end and cylinder heads. K&N filter pods now mate to the Hitachi carburetors and a SuperTrapp megaphone exhaust system exits on the right side. That’s because the XV750 featured a shaft drive on the left side.
Next, Nihira fitted a new seat rail to suit the quintessential flat track tail section. To match the vintage look, he also retrofitted a Virago swingarm, which accommodated the dual shock rear suspension typically found on ‘70s flat trackers. The front end is also a mishmash of Yamaha parts, with an SR400 yoke connected to an XS650 fork and steering head.
Brembo calipers clamping down on Sunstar rotors and H-profile 19-inch rims shod in Firestone ANS replica tires maintain the retro aesthetics. On the other hand, a MotoGadget mini speedo, LED light bar, and low-profile indicators add a touch of modernity. Despite that minor transgression, Nihira tops off the build with an immaculate white/red/black ‘speed block’ paint scheme.
Yes, Kenny Roberts and the classic livery will also call Yamaha flat track racing to mind, but now, Wedge Motorcycles’ XV750 street tracker will as well.