Yamaha triples are getting a lot of love from journalists and customers these days. But as old-timers will remember, the Yamaha Motor Company was making popular three-bangers 35 years ago—in the shape of the XS750 and XS850.
We don’t see many XS850 customs, but this rapier-sharp example from Holland shows the potential. It’s the latest build from Amsterdam-based Nozem, a multi-disciplinary studio that splits its work 50/50 between design and motorcycle building.
“The XS850 is big and heavy,” says Nozem co-founder Lorenzo Pinto, whose business card reads ‘Creative Director/Mechanic.’ “But it’s not necessarily ugly—it’s actually a very nice base for a classic cafe racer.”
Nozem set to work dismantling the bike, and ditched the entire back end. After some heavy duty chopping, patching and welding, they created a Ducati-style subframe with mounts for a pair of completely sleeved Harley air shocks.
The stock XS850 forks were taken apart, fitted with new internals, and reattached to the frame with new CNC-milled triples—which are sporting a built-in Smiths tachometer. The frame and engine both received a nice spray of paint for that factory-fresh look.
Nozem have also updated the brakes to a set of golden Brembos, and they found a matching yellow Cibie lens to screw into the headlight bowl.
“No dramatic engine surgery was required,” Lorenzo reports, “except for a blood transfusion and the standard miscellaneous stuff.”
A huge custom air filter shields the pistons from dust and dirt, and there’s a beautiful stainless steel exhaust system with multiple immaculate welds. It’s topped off with a set of Laser X-Treme mufflers to keep the gasses flowing easily.
The bodywork is razor sharp and waspish; the tank is actually an XS850 item, but heavily modified. The tail unit (and suede-covered seat) is a part of the frame, holding the two shocks together, and flanked by a pair of compact lights.
The classy paintjob adds to the retro look, with hints of the JPS Lotus Formula 1 cars of the 1970s. Credit for that goes to Airbrushlab LifeCreations, a high-end Amsterdam paint shop.
The XS850 is now heading off to a new life in sunny California. That’s a helluva long way from Holland, but Nozem’s reputation is spreading far and wide. We can’t wait to see what Lorenzo and his crew come up with next.