Simon's XV750 by Down & Out Cafe Racers
By Ross Sharp - 11 Sep 15
Childhood memories are a recurring theme amongst Bike Shed features. From a repressed dream, unleashed and realised to a driving force behind engineering endeavours, it's those early flashes of excitement that are so ingrained in our grownup lives. Simon Krajnyak grew up on the Lincolnshire coast in Mablethorpe, a small town famous for hosting beach racing, which continues to this day. Aged 7, leaning on the handlebars of his twinshock Puch, Simon decided that bikes were going to be his thing. If that wasn't enough motivation, a few miles down the road was the HQ of the Honda WSBK team, back when the RC30 and 45s were the weapon of choice. Aaron Slight, Colin Edwards and Carl Fogarty with ice creams in hand used to watch the sand racing from the promenade, further fuelling Simon's passion for two-wheels. A 125 wasn't going to cut it so he saved for 10 months straight, a tall order working for £104 a week as an apprentice for British Gas, and bought a nearly new RGV250. A few months later and a 17th birthday afforded legal riding of the stroker, which was curtailed two days later by a trip to A&E and the Suzuki arriving home in pieces. Undeterred, a lifetime of sports bikes followed but as is often the case with age, the realisation of mortality sets in. Having seen an XV750 on the American T.V. series Return of The Cafe Racers built by Docs Chops, Simon's mind was once again made up and he turned the custom corner. Having decided that the big brother in Yamaha's cruiser range was the way to go Simon sourced a decent Virago donor, content that he'd be one of the only guys in the U.K. to café one. With limited spare time available the initial strip down was followed by lengthy periods of sourcing parts and research. A 2005 R1 front end was a relatively simple conversion which greatly improves the stance and of course performance. Trick billet yokes look the business and the dash has been eliminated by machining a recess for the Motogadget digital speedo. Clipons with ISR levers and switchgear are not only super clean but chunky too, fitting in well with the beefy yokes and muscular proportions of the rest of the bike. With the air-cooled 750cc twin taking up all the visual space and being a stressed member cafe racer style subframes need to be a fabricate and bolt-on affair. Simon made one to suit a MotoLanna seat unit, and the result is very neat. The stock tank has been raised slightly to achieve a purposeful bone line, which also revealed a small void beneath, just spacious enough to bury the lithium battery. Just in shot is the one-off Öhlins shock, put together by Russell at Mick Gardner Racing. Friends in high places, always useful. The fitting of the Tarozzi rearsets offered a more sporting riding position but brought with them a challenge, the exhaust positioning. Simon envisioned two stubby mufflers sitting no higher than the burly swing arm, but being a novice with the TiG welder meant a large custom zorst bill loomed over the horizon. The project stagnated and a layer of dust formed on the sleek tank. By chance Simon was driving past the local MOT centre and noticed a very familiar silhouette being wheeled out of a van, surely not, another XV, in the same town? He couldnt believe his eyes and pulled over to interrogate the copycats. Well, maybe chat would be a better phrase as the van belonged to Carl & Shaun of Down & Out Cafe Racers, they aren't the sort of guys one interrogates. Besides, there's was a TR1, just different enough. After an exchange of pleasantries Simon had persuaded Shaun & Carl that a barter of skills would be a good idea for all concerned. D&O would receive a shiny new website and proper bike photography and Simon would get help finishing his project. On a joint outing to Bike Shed Event II the relationship was cemented and now Simon takes care of all imagery for Down & Out. The show also provided a networking goldmine and the chance for a hobby to become paid employment, it appears Simon has come full circle and is as enthusiastic as he was back in his Puch riding days on the beach. True to their word Shaun and Carl finished the XV and there can be little argument over the result. The bike was on display at Bike Shed London 2015, along with the D&O T100 poster bike, and certainly set tongues wagging. D&O are renowned for their finishing, no surprise really coming from a chopper background where neatness is everything, and have subsequently grown at a rapid rate over the last couple of years. With customers from all over the world placing orders, Simon's shutter finger gets a fair old workout and now he's branched out into video too. Check out the XV here. A lifetime in the brewing and three years in the making and Simon finally has a finished bike that goes every bit as well as it looks. But unfortunately he's caught the custom bug and there's no cure, other than to medicate with another project. So the XV750 is for sale to release funds to feed the habit. Let's hope the next one doesn't take quite as long. For more form the D&O workshops check out Bike Shed Archive | Facebook | Instagram | Web Photos by Simon Krajnyak, of course.