The stock Yamaha Virago is no great prize, but Classified Moto’s John Ryland loves putting a positive spin on one. ‘XV920R6-R’ is the latest machine to roll out of his Richmond, VA workshop, and it’s gone straight to lucky new owner Bob Ranew of North Carolina. Bob fell in love with a Virago 750 that Classified built last year, and once a direction was agreed, John tore into a 920 he had on hand in the shop. ‘The 920 was blessed with a rare chain drive,’ he says. ‘I assumed it was a shaftie until I removed the hard bags.’ So John persuaded Bob to get a rear end conversion as well as Classified’s signature front-end swap. ‘That way we could have nice wide rubber at the back, with the added goodness of matching wheels front and rear.’
Classified hooked up with local machine shop Maxum Machine and master welder Casey Hyatt to handle the conversion. Says John, ‘My part was to design the swingarm connecting points and then spend a couple of weeks shuttling it between Maxum, Casey’s place and my garage until it was perfect. I do a lot of my own welding but I won’t touch that kind of stuff. Casey has been a welder since before I was born, so he’s my man.’
After the swingarm odyssey, the nickel plating provided the biggest challenge— especially the tank. ‘I love the bare metal but we needed to stop it from rusting without paint,’ John explains. ‘I get some flack for not making everything perfect on these bikes, but honestly, that comes more from bike builders than the general public.’
The look is instantly recognizable as Classified Moto, with raw mechanicals, a major suspension upgrade and minimal, high-impact paint. This bike will corner on rails: the fork is from a 2009 Yamaha YZF R6-R (with a modified triple tree and upgraded bearings) and the rear suspension is from a 2008 YZF R6-S. Shortened and modified to mate to the XV frame, it’s hooked up to a Triumph Daytona adjustable shock.
‘We think we’ve found a nice balance of creativity, quality and price,’ says John. ‘Yes, we could spend hours polishing an engine cover, but it would drive the price up too much—and not necessarily suit our bikes. I think that kind of work is beautiful in a classic way, but it’s just not the Classified Moto brand.’ [Images courtesy of Adam Ewing. Check our Facebook page for a photo gallery with even more shots.]
Classified Moto XV920R6-R specification
Owner: Bob Ranew, North Carolina, USA
Basis: 1982 Yamaha Virago XV920R
Front suspension: 2009 Yamaha YZF R6-R with modified triple tree and upgraded bearings
Rear suspension: 2008 Yamaha YZF R6-S shortened and modified to mate to the XV frame with a Triumph Daytona adjustable shock
Tires: Dunlop D616 180/55-17 (rear), Metzeler ME880 130/80-17 (front)
Tank: Ubiquitous but awesome Benelli Mojave 360 tank, nickel plated with paint by our buddy Barry Griffin of Richmond, VA.
Exhaust: Custom with modified Moto Guzzi California pipe and NOS scrambler style heat shield
Controls: Custom foot controls left and right with left side perforated metal sprocket guard, nickel plated. Top mounted dirt bike bars with Oury grips.
Lights & gauges: Minimum required in Virginia. Headlight is 5 3/4-inch unit with custom nickel-plated cage made from used spokes. No turn indicators. Taillight and Acewell gauge from Dime City Cycles.
Fuel & Air: Carbs tuned for 2-into-1 exhaust and pod filter
Electrics: Simplified harness with battery mounted underneath the swing arm.
Seat: Custom seat rails, pan and foam with cover sewn by our buddy Devin’s delightful and patient mom.