There have been many custom workshops that have evolved their brand into an apparel range. In Taiwan, the clothing label Persist Supply Co. flipped the process on its head. After building a successful streetwear label with designs inspired by gasoline culture, the Persist team turned their passion for motorcycles into a new custom workshop venture. The TwentyTwo Custom project is a limited-build series of 22 motorcycles designed and built by the team at Persist Supply Co. Most of the motorcycles in the TwentyTwo series were built for customers but as the orders came in they reserved a build slot for one of their most cherished staff.
This bike, which is number 5 in the TwentyTwo series, was built for Persist lead designer, Red. As the creator of most of the designs in the Persist catalogue over the past 3 years, Red has been instrumental in the brand’s success. Since Red was a rider herself, Persist founder Dong Lin offer her the opportunity to design her own motorcycle which his TwentyTwo team would then build. The result was this heavily modified Yamaha SR150 cafe racer coined ‘Neo Nostalgia’.
“Twentytwo 05 is an attempt to fuse Red’s favourite elements from sci-fi movies, cyberpunk comics, and ’90s JDM race bikes,” says Lin. “The classic cafe racer style was our general direction. So in addition to giving this bike a brand new look, we made corresponding performance improvements that are crucial requirements of a contemporary street Cafe Racer.”
Red’s cafe racer began its life as a Yamaha SR150, a scaled-down version of the SR400 for the Taiwanese market. Despite a similar engine configuration and naming convention, the SR150 bares little resemblance to its retro-styled cousin. And although its production ceased in 2008, the Yamaha still has a strong following in Taiwan.
With this project, the Persist team wanted to “preserve the soul” of the SR during the rebuild. “We deliberately retained the original fuel tank and kept the modification of the main frame to a minimum. So despite a brand-new appearance, the original silhouette of SR150 can still be seen” says Lin.
The transformation began with a fresh set of spoked aluminium wheels in an 18-inch front and 17-inch rear configuration. Both wheels have been wrapped in Dunlop Sportmax rubber and the rear end is sporting an aftermarket swingarm from local supplier Mark Motorcycles which extends the SR’s footprint. The rear suspension uses a pair of shock absorbers from Taiwan brand MJP Factory tuned to suit Red’s weight. And to level out its bone line, the front end has been fitted with SYM Wolf 125 forks which sit in a repurposed Yamaha FZ triple tree.
Aside from the fuel tank, Red’s bike wears entirely custom bodywork. After some minor tweaks to the subframe, Persist engaged local bodywork experts Tough Tracker to fabricate the new tinware.
“For the shape, we pulled references from 90s Japanese sport bikes and then tried to build a rear end that goes well with the original SR150 tank. The single seat and cowl are made from aluminium and were formed in 4 parts: the tail shell, 2 trim panels that cover the frame and the seat which can be disassembled independently. The tail unit also features an integrated LED taillight from Germany.” Lin explains.
“The two side plates are also made of aluminium and designed to be geometric with folded lines rather than curves. To give the bike a racing feel, we wanted to bring something more to the original tank. So we extended a bracket from the frame and made a set of panels that resemble the fairing winglets of modern sports bikes which help to exaggerate the proportions of the tank.”
Rather than going with a full fairing for the front end, Persist opted to go naked. So the SR wears a classic 6-inch headlight recessed into a fork-mounted custom fairing. The look is reminiscent of Husqvarna’s neo-retro Svartpilen 701 which ties in nicely with this project’s aesthetic.
When the time came to tweak the Yamaha’s performance, Persist tasked engine experts Performance B with the job. “The engine can produce high torque at low RPM and as a result was widely used as a commercial vehicle to carry cargo back in the day,” says Lin. “Performance B completely disassembled, cleaned and renewed almost all consumables of the engine. They repurposed a Yamaha TW225 head to increase the capacity to 230cc, upgraded the cam to double bearing, optimized the inlet and exhaust ports, strengthened the crank, upgraded to a 16-pin forged connecting rod and installed a reinforced clutch set.”
To complement the heavily revised engine internals, Performance B has fit the engine with a Yoshimura Keihin FCR-MJN28 carb. Persist then tasked local exhaust shop 8耐(BANAI) to create a custom exhaust system with a swooping header pipe which contrasts with the sharp lines of the engine and complements the curves of the body.
To complete her SR150’s transformation Red devised a colour scheme for the bike that was influenced by her love of sci-fi movies. The bike now wears a mix of gloss and matte black and grey finishes and stylised Yamaha branding. For a touch of JDM style, she then had a Brembo M4 1098 brake calliper finished in neon yellow and retrofit to the front end.
It’s not uncommon to hear people complain about their job, but with a bonus like this from her boss, we’re pretty sure Red would have nothing but nice things to say.