Yamaha’s XSR700 is a stonking bike, of that there’s no doubt, but its looks are somewhat of an acquired taste. I bought one and gave it a light custom treatment courtesy of a JVB ‘Super 7’ bolt-on kit – read here – but so far there have been few café or endurance racer style builds that look right.
The main issue with the XSR as a donor for customising is the fuel tank that’s plonked on top of an awkwardly shaped frame – the front engine mounting tubes sprout horizontally from the spine and are a pig to work around.
Seeing as the whole philosophy behind the Yard Built program is to modify bikes without chopping the frame, and even better if the stock tank is kept, there’s little room to do anything other than embrace the Quasimodo silhouette, rather than try to hide it.
Which is exactly what Down & Out Motorcycles and Built Magazine have done with this XSR700 ‘Fior’. Named after Claude Fior, the fabricator and engineer behind a Yamaha factory supported XS1100 entry to the prestigious Bol d’Or endurance race. That bike was purposeful in appearance and effective on track but due to it’s telelever front suspension also wore its tank in a slightly awkward position – from a stylistic point of view at least.
Built Mag’s Editor Gary Pinchin commissioned designer Kar Lee to come up with a render for the D&O guys to work from. Pretty damn decent alternate reality, right! It was then up to Down and Out Motorcycles (formerly know as Down & Out Cafe Racers) to realise the sketches and Gary’s nostalgic fever.
Shaun, Carl and the D&O crew modified a set of bodywork originally destined for a TZ750, which is not only true to Kar’s design but very close to Fior’s original machine. Pro Kustom nailed the period correct paint job, one of the only tasks Shaun’s outfit don’t tackle themselves at their Rohtherham HQ.
The render shows a top of the line Öhlins USD fork and radial Brembos but sadly the budget didn’t stretch beyond snazzing-up the stock front end with vapour blasted fork legs and an Öhlins spring upgrade with preload adjustability. Go-faster red brake lines with quick-break couplings add a smidge of race track authenticity.
The factory powdercoat was blasted off the swingarm too, helping cement the retro vibe, and an off-the-shelf Öhlins adjustable shock sits in for the slightly soft stocker. Old school looking, but not so grippy, Pirelli Phantoms are gone, replaced by more spirited Rosso Corsas.
Messy handlebars are one of Shaun’s pet peeves so the XSR is devoid of plastic switches, and even the throttle didn’t make the cut. An alloy quick action unit offers a snappier feel and looks like it’s worth another few tenths per lap. The Monza style fuel cap is an often overused upgrade, but it suits this build. A brace of 5″ halogen headlamps mounted to the front of the front fairing complete the eighties race feel.
And for those who haven’t enjoyed the aural pleasure of Yamaha’s crossplane cranked twin, head to the YouTube – this motor sounds fantastic. Akrapovič headers from the Yamaha accessory catalogue were mated to a stainless reverse megaphone end can to make the most of the off-beat burble. (Slightly spoiled by the energetic naked man in the video below, so head to the YouTube for more exhaust noises)
Hopefully this bike will be exhibited by Yamaha on their stand at this year’s Bike Shed London 2019 show so pop down and see Fior for yourself, and meet the D&O team.
And if you don’t follow Kardesign, you should. For one he’s the artistic eye behind Sideburn Magazine, and his forward thinking renders published on Instagram represent what the manufacturers wish they could build, without litigious homologation stymieing beauty.