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Return of the Cafe Racers - Lessons Learned – Peter’s Yamaha XV1100

Lessons Learned – Peter’s Yamaha XV1100

The saying ‘to bite off more than you can chew’ is one that many budding bike builders can relate to. It’s a common tale that you may have experienced yourself. A man browses online, finds incomplete project bike for sale, checks bank account, daydreams for hours or days and then buys project bike. Delusions of grandeur follow.

yamaha XV1100 cafe racer

This Yamaha XV1100 cafe racer was the main protagonist in a tale just like the one above. The director of the story is Peter Dean from Perth, Western Australia. His bike was bought online, together with a second rolling wreck in 2016. Unregistered and not running they had fallen victim to another’s delusions. They had both been used as spares bikes for someone else’s project. Peter is not one to shy away from a challenge, so he promptly hauled the wrecks to his shed and got to work.

Inspired by the work of Greg Hageman Peter had a solid vision in mind. His concept included the Benelli Mojave replica tank with a new subframe and battery box from Twig TT and a Motolanna cafe racer seat. The better of the two bikes frames was stripped and powder coated and the engine cleaned and painted. The spindly original front end was swapped for a complete Yamaha R1 unit and the lighting was also upgraded with a new headlight, bracketry and LED indicators all round. Speaking of upgrades, Peter also decided to rewire the entire bike using the tried and tested MotoGadget V2 and swapped out the clunky old gauges for an Acewell unit.

yamaha XV1100 cafe racer

This wouldn’t be a rags to riches tale without a little failure, right? So after getting the bike up and running its old regulator rectifier failed. Not a big deal. That was, until it overcharged the Lithium Ion battery Peter had installed, setting the whole back end of the bike on fire. Once the flames were put out and the damage assessed Peter got to work on the second engine from the other donor bike. The second bike happened to be an XV1100 and after taking the opportunity to replace every seal it was shoehorned into the XV750 frame.

yamaha XV1100 cafe racer

Peter laid the Lamborghini Orange paint over the tank and front fender himself (a skill he picked up during the build process) and also rebuilt the final drive. In the interest of safety the old, now burnt regulator rectifier was replaced with a custom unit from Rick’s Motorsport Electrics in the USA. An Antigravity battery was used the second time around, with enough power to turn over the big 1100. Rounding out the cafe racer package are Tarozzi rearsets, installed on the original passenger peg brackets.

yamaha XV1100 cafe racer

Peter was kind enough to let me take this Yamaha XV1100 cafe racer for a spin and I have to say that along with being incredibly fun to ride the ergonomics are well thought out, the R1 brakes are a revelation and the handling is great. Qualities that are almost unheard of on a bike that is almost 40 years old!

Story & photography by Ben Pilatti

yamaha XV1100 cafe racer
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