“I just couldn’t cut it up too much…” Charles Burkhardt of Rusty Bolt Garage was smitten with this little Yamaha the very first moment he saw it.
Now we are not usually inclined to advocate reverence when it comes to the cutting of supposedly precious metal, but a little restraint can go a long way. With this gorgeous AS1 Charles has enhanced our belief that in the right hands, a grinder and a welding torch can certainly improve all but the rarest of museum piece.
Charles acquired the AS1 in a multi-bike bundle deal, but it was always this particular machine he had his eye on, “We had to buy 3 others from the guy just so we could get our hands on this one!” The little 125 was in a sorry state so a full restoration was in order, along with those subtle modifications/improvements.
Charles has been building and repairing bikes ever since he got his first two wheeler, a Honda CB550.
“About a month after I bought it I took it on a 1500 mile roadtrip. Of course, old bikes need a fair amount of attention so after that trip, it needed some work. My passion for bikes started with that.”
Rusty Bolt Garage grew from that passion into Charles’ full time business, based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Back to RBG’s latest, inspiration for the classic look came from one of Charles’ good friends who owned an AS1 back in the day, the stories he told of the fun he had aboard his Yam captured the imagination.
“He grew up in England and decided to get his first motorcycle when he was 18 in the early seventies. He had 100 pounds and was able to find a used AS1. The guy was asking 150 but he was able to talk him down to what he had in his pocket.”
With his inspiration and a finished target firmly in mind Charles set to work, starting with the engine. He totally rebuilt the top end with new pistons, rings, clips, pins, gaskets and seals throughout. The carbs were cleaned by vapor blasting and overhauled to accommodate the new K&N filters. The stock semi-expansion chambers he reused after polishing them to a bright shine and fitting the freshly black powder coated heat shields.
The frame and swingarm were blasted down to bare metal and cleaned of unnecessary tabs, Charles then mounted new seat brackets and fabricated a removable rear hoop.
“This way, if you wanted to go back to the stock seat it would be no problem. Nothing we did to the frame can’t be undone. We then powder coated the frame, swingarm, and skid plate in gloss black.”
The forks have been rebuilt with new seals, the legs are polished and the springs powder coated in gloss black to compliment the new rear shocks. The bike rides on new Michelin semi dual sport tyres, the speed scrubbing duties are handled by the stock front and rear drums which boast new brake shoes and springs. Up front Charles unsurprisingly chose to stick with the classy original headlight assembly and speedometer. A new left hand switch controls the turn signals, high and low beam, and a chirpy new horn. New cushion grips have been to the broomstick type handlebar along with new rubbers on the foot pegs, mini LED turn signals, a small brake light and license plate bracket.
“Yamaha had a black and silver version of the AS1, so we thought we would stick with the colour combo but switch it around a little. The tank, side cover and oil tank have been painted silver. The fenders got the same treatment after we cut them down a bit. We then went with a black seat, tank panels and pads, and headlight bucket to give the sort of ‘straight across’ visual we wanted.”
The handmade seat features a small step to give the pillion a panoramic view, but their footpegs are removable for when they choose to stay at home.
The finished article is exactly as Charles imagined, a resto-mod with its heritage fully intact, enhanced with the tweaked details that satisfy the roving modern eye. And the riding experience? Had time tinted the friends tales of yore with a little too much enthusiasm?
“All I can say is this; she may look small, but once you get this puppy in her powerband…hang on. You will be pleasantly surprised…”
It seems not!