Andrew Hull from Austin, Minnesota, is one of those guys recently returned to meddling with bikes in his backyard, and getting to the point where his work needs a proper brand and yo be properly shared with others, and as a starting point he’s made a superb job of turning this 1979 Yamaha xs400 into a Brat/Scrambler hybrid. Normally we have to we-write the builder’s story, but in this case, Andy tells it best himself, without any interference from us…
I’m Andy Hull I started riding and modifying bikes when I was 15. I started out with a old Tomos Silver Bullet moped. I went from two wheels into four wheels then decided that four wheels consumed to much space in my little shop/garage so I returned to my roots two years ago when I started picking up motorcycles again. I now have 11 bikes in the garage, some including my old moped, I just recently stumbled across and bought back.
I’m a painter by trade, houses and businesses not cars or motorcycles. I actually went to school to be a cylinder head machinist but some how took up painting instead. I worked as a mechanic for a few years out of high school and it started to kill my love for working on things so I took up painting with my father, but I did not kill the love of metal and bolts when I did this. I brought all my tools home and started to tinker with some older motorcycles and found that it just invigorated me. I sold my first bike last winter it was a slightly modified Kawasaki KZ400 and that was the beginning of Hold Fast Motors.
I bought this 1979 XS400 from an old farmer a few hours from my home town, he had been letting his grand kids ride it all over the farm so when I got the bike it looked like it had gone through a tropical storm. I rolled it off the truck and began by ditching everything that was not essential to what I wanted to build. I started with the frame, I removed the rear shock stays and re-mounted them more forward on the frame, lifting the rear of the bike a good two inches.
The rear frame hoop was chopped off and a new custom hand made hoop was made. I then had a good friend build me a seat pan to fit the shorter frame section and re upholstered it in black and tan. The seat was really what the bikes color scheme was based on. I loved the contrast of color it had so I spread it throughout the bike.
The tank was the next to be modified. I read an article online about adding knee indents to tanks and I loved the look of old cafe racers with them, so I decided to do that. After some good hammering and body work it was right where I wanted it. I sent it over to a good friend and pinstriper Jeremy Pedersen of Relic Kustoms where he added the Hold Fast Motors badge on the sides and added some highlights with some well laid lines. The frame was then sprayed in a gloss black and set aside to be assembled.
When I got the bike it had an issue with the electric starter and kick starter. I pulled the engine out because I was going to freshen it up anyway, and when I opened the side case I found a sheared off kick starter journal. This threw a hammer in my progress. I started searching online for a set of engine cases to swap my internals into. After a few weeks I found a set of low milage cases on eBay and had them sent to me. I reassembled the engine and gave it a good coat of flat black engine paint.
I ditched the stock mufflers and instead made some custom turn downs with home made screw in baffles for back pressure. The engine sucked in through a pair of stock carbs re-jetted for the XS Performance pod filters. I hated the look of the battery just hanging out under the seat so I had Nick Pedersen make me up a leather battery surround with a pocket on one side and a compartment for all the essential wires and fuses to be tucked into on the opposite side.
The wheels are stock just repainted to match the rest of the bike and the tires are some knobby Kenda dual purpose rubbers I found online. The steering is done with a old vintage set of motocross handle bars. I ditched the stock head light and went with a smaller chrome unit I found on Craigslist. The stock speedo and tacho were destroyed from the farmers grand kids so I bought a mini speedo and mounted it up on the top triple tree.
The bike was one of those builds that really evolved with time, it was going to be a cafe racer when I first brought it home then I fell in love with the brat style bikes that I was seeing on The Bike Shed and BikeEXIF. I then re watched “The Great Escape” and fell in love with the Triumph Steve was riding in the chase. The one that was built to look like a war era BMW. The knobby tires and the rough look of it enthralled me so it went from a brat bike to a knobby tired scrambler. I would have never pictured this bike in my head it just evolved slowly into what it is now, I don’t think I could ever just draw up a design of a bike and build it, first off I don’t have the skill to do that and second I really enjoy sculpting and changing things as they go until they meet my satisfaction…
It’s a really great looking build, Andy – Thanks for sharing with all of us. We look forward to seeing what comes out of the Hold Fast Motors garage next.