When looking to Shedify your bike there are many, many options and avenues open to you. For the power plant you can go for an across the frame twin, a Brit triple, screaming Jap 4 pot or a thumping L-Twin. The frame, tubular steel, ultra-light deltabox or birdcage style steel trellis. Trying to decide which bike to impart one’s creativity upon is never ending.
So, you may ask yourself why a highly renowned, and previously featured, Spanish builder would choose one of the most forgettable bikes of the mid 80’s to base a custom build on. You could put this down to it being the only bike they had lying around the shop but after spending some time on their website, I’m inclined to say that they did it purely to challenge themselves.
The Vintage Addiction crew are a rag tag bunch, building bikes, cars and Jeeps out their Barcelona based shop and the standard of work that flows out of this place is mind-blowing. A mix of slick, polished, show bike customs, to rat style racers that you could ride on the daily. This bike is a blend of the two, with show bike looks and finish, wrapped up in a package you could happily throw down some serious miles on.
The venerable old XJ600 was never a bad bike, it was just never a very good one either. One thing that was reported on the earlier examples was a slightly floaty ride and sleepy handling. Once this bike had the de rigueur strip down, blast and powder coat, the rolling stock was sorted with the introduction of some ‘02 Yamaha R6 forks and matching Blue Spot calipers. The forks look spot on and give the bike a real nose down stance. The original ’86 XJ had a head so high an altitude induced nosebleed was on the cards if you snapped the throttle open too quick. Now the bike has a squat attitude on the road, staring hard at the horizon.
The original RD’ style wheels also got ditched in favour of some fat spoked rims running Firestone whitewall cross-plys. The tyres I love, hell this bikes in Spain and will never have to negotiate a rainy Oundle bypass dodging diesel, dogshit and dickheads. Keeping with the wheels, the nonexistent front fender does a great job of further blurring the lines between custom build, café racer and sports bike.
I think my favourite feature on this build is the paint, and not for the reason that you think. Yes, the finish on the fairings, tank and side panels is flawless and the crinkle finish on the clutch cover and crankcases makes me go weak at the knees, Kilian Pica Studios did a standout job. It’s more about the understated style that the colour brings to the build, it’s not shouting, it doesn’t need to shout, it-is-not-a-show-bike! The paint and stance paired with the off yellow headlamp bulb evokes this nostalgic feeling in me that harks back to the Bol d’Or Ducati 750’s of the mid 80’s, I like that!
The guys at VA threw caution to the wind and opted to use the bikes original tank, a risky move when the donor vehicle is a slightly gawky looking 80’s commuter bike. Again, though VA have nailed it getting the look spot on. I don’t think another tank, custom or otherwise would sit as nicely as this one.
Finishing off the bike is the stripped back rear subframe and handstitched seat, mini indicators and aggressively angled tail tidy which all look pert and perfectly proportioned. The stainless exhaust running though Sito high level silencers further enforce the café racer DNA this bike has, and although some of the manifold fabrication is a little unorthodox, the twin megaphones are the perfect fit for this Catalan cruiser.
When all is said and done, this is a very likeable build, I’ve been pouring over the pictures for hours now and it has grown on me. It’s good that VA didn’t head down the build by numbers route, it’s made for a refreshing blend of genres. I’m happy that there are people out there building bikes that challenge the preconception of what a post classic café racer custom (or whatever it is!) should be.
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