Yamaha’s XSR700 is an undeniable hit with owners, the press and with us here in the ‘Shed. What cannot be denied though is the awkwardness of the XSR’s frame and fuel tank setup. Perfectly fine when kept in its original form but frankly a right pain in the tits when trying to mould to the tried and tested, perhaps now traditional, aesthetics of the current custom scene. There have of course been some jaw dropping examples of builders overcoming this hurdle, but occasionally at the detriment of fuel capacity and practicality.
Cafe Racer SSpirit, a familiy business from San Sebastian, Spain, has taken a slightly different and bolder approach. the workshop was started in 2014 by Juan Carlos, Hugo and Juan Pablo who have a good few builds under their belts but the chance for a slice of the big time came thanks to Yamaha’s Yard Build program. For Wheels & Waves 2017 Yamaha wanted to show-off their custom muscles under the Biarritz sun and planned a seven-strong lineup of modded XSRs. The CRSS team was chosen as the Spanish entrant and a crate arrived in February containing the donor.
Hugo explains the thoughts behind the project, “Nowadays, people tend to customize bikes from the 60s-80s adding high quality accessories such as Öhlins suspension, engine tune-ups and so on. We were thinking the other way round. Our aim was to work on a modern motorcycle and make it look more vintage, inspired by the Yamaha TZ 750 amongst others.” The methods used though were far from retro. Adhering to Yamaha’s strict Yard Build code of maintaining street legality and leaving the frame free from grinder and welder attacks the guys simply unbolted the subframe and dummy fuel tank cover and broke out the rulers and calipers.
The bodywork was initially mocked-up in perforated steel and then scanned by local rapid prototyping company Tumaker 3D. Once happy with the designs clever machines 3D printed the tail, seat and tank cover (the stock fuel cell remains beneath, now with Rizoma cap). Mounts are standard and integration with stock architecture is key to any successful Yard Build, these parts are easily replicable and will be available as over-the-counter bolt-ons for any XSR owner. The wheel discs and radiator guards are laser cut from stainless by experts Grabolaser.
Lo-fi modifying often yields just as good a result as fancy printers and frickin lasers. The headlight, front mudguard and pegs are from a 1982 XV750 and the handle bar is simply the stock high-rise flipped upside down for a clubman style. The bit that had me all excited is the faux cooling fins which I presume had been machined and painted. They have, it’s just that Yamaha did it, way back for the XVS650 Dragstar. The fit (modified slightly) is uncanny and transforms the look of an already handsome powerplant.
A K&N filter slots into the stock airbox and the exhaust by Exan not only looks the business, and slightly old school, in blasted stainless but should sing a fine tune too – the 27o degree firing order of the 689cc parallel twin sounds naughty when unleashed. Motogadget’s infamous M-Unit controller dishes out the electrons from the M-button switchgear to Rizoma LED indicators and stop lights. As previously reported the stock speedo is such a nice design and really functional, the guys appear to agree and left it in place. The rear shock though isn’t the XSR700’s finest feature and there are a few companies making upgraded replacements but Brit-based Hagon seem to have the jump on most. They supplied an adjustable unit which the CRSS crew disassembled so as to colour code the spring old English white.
Juan Carlos, Hugo and Juan Pablo not only made the deadline of this year’s edition of Wheels & Waves but the Punk’s Peak startline too. Yamaha’s Yard Build freight train appears not to have run out of steam yet, which can only be a good thing for custom workshops like Cafe Racer SSpirit.