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There are times when dreams of building your own custom café racer can be made a reality. Eric Meglasson, an architect from Oregon is one of the few who made that transition. In this week's custom café racer feature, we take a look at Eric's bike; a 1982 Yamaha Virago XV750.
Eric's custom build started off with a clean, stock Virago which underwent a few weeks of teardown. With family, friends and professional help pitching in along the way, what he ended up with is a pretty spectacular café racer. For a first time builder with no previous experience doing it, it's a terrific result.
Making the Virago café racer possible are forks, calipers and clip-ons from a 2001 Yamaha R1 with switchgear and front wheel from a 2009 R6. The bike also features 2-inch brushed stainless steel drag pipes with modified Vance & Hines baffles. Eric made his own headlight bracket, tail light, turn signal assembly, air filter mount, and brushed steel fork guards.
Don't be fooled by how easy this all sounds; he mentions that one of the hardest things to do when building a bike is working out the overwhelmingly tedious wiring. For those curious about this and everything else that went in to building the Virago café racer, Eric maintained a blog outlining his experience; with 56 pages full of description and images you're likely to understand why I'd say that building a bike is probably not for me.
Difficult or not the reasons behind why some of us want to build our own bikes are the same. There's something incredibly ennobling about riding a machine that you were directly involved in bringing to life. It also doesn't hurt that a bike you build yourself is likely going to be unlike anything else on the road; and isn't one of the core tenets of being a motorcyclist, being unique?
I came across the following on Eric's Yamaha Virago build blog, and find it resonates true with me:
‟As I have aged and my riding skills have improved, it has become clear that public roads are no place to enjoy the thrills of 150hp+ superbikes. It's simply foolish. If you are good enough to ride those bikes anywhere near their potential, you are doubling or tripling the posted speed limits just to keep yourself entertained on the things. Fun but foolish, a game that can't last long…and will definitely end in tears one day.”
He goes on to say that despite the inability to have any proper fun with a superbike on public roads, the quintessential drive for riding was how it makes us feel. So he began to search for a bike that would serve to satisfy the soul and building a café racer is the answer he found.
While building the Yamaha Virago XV750 café racer Eric was approached by friends to help them with their own café racer dreams. Along with a friend, Eric now heads up his own motorcycle customization company called Spin Cycle Industries.
If you've found inspiration here to start working on your own café racer dreams then cheers to you. Who knows, maybe we'll be talking about your build project on a future ESR Café Racer Tuesday.
Photographs by Alan Brandt