Yamaha has embraced the new wave custom culture by giving its new Bolt to eight builders in North America—and giving them carte blanche to rework the bike. We’ve already seen Roland Sands’ tracker-inspired Bolt, and now it’s the turn of Chappell Customs.
Rob Chappell is based in Ontario, Canada and brother Chris in Los Angeles. As soon as the word came in from Yamaha that a bike was waiting for them, Rob got on a plane, hooked up with his brother, and drove over to Yamaha’s office in Cypress, CA to collect the Bolt. “Literally the moment we unloaded it from the truck, we took a few photos and tore it apart and down to the frame,” Rob reports.
The first big decision was to choose a direction. “We looked at a lot of factors and decided that the market for this bike is the bobber market—so we’d stick closely to that target.” But rather than take a brand new motorcycle and give it an old-school rigid back end with a springer front, the Chappell brothers decided to give the Bolt the looks of a hardtail but with better handling. They had just four weeks to finish the job.
“We cut away the rear sub-frame and began mocking up a new rear hoop,” says Rob. “It needed to maintain the stock swingarm and the original base shock mounts. The tricky part is that the Bolt uses a belt drive, so the rear hoop has to be removable for the belt to be changed in the future.”
Pierre Vaillancourt from Works Performance swung by the shop, took some measurements, and custom-built a shock specifically for the bike. The brothers now had a functioning rear end that they could sell to Bolt owners.
Next came the bodywork. “We spent more hours on it than I want to admit,” Rob grumbles. Chappell created a chin scoop, computer box, and seat. They also cut out the stock gas filler from the Bolt gas tank and flush-mounted a quarter-turn cap. The first seat unit was ditched for being too bulky; a second design, using a metal seat pan, created the bobber lines Rob and Chris wanted. “Then we were able to bolt the new tail design onto the back of the seat—perfect.”
While all of this was going on, the hunt was on for a new front end to help upgrade the suspension and change the stance. “We ended up using a 2007 Yamaha YZF-R1 front end, which was anything but a bolt-on affair. We didn’t want to do a wheel swap, so it required a lot of measuring and CNC parts creation.” A custom axle, offset rotor, spaced-out caliper and a lot of triple tree work did the trick.
The wheels, frame and sub-frame were sandblasted and powdercoated in Viking Stainless Steel, while the swingarm was powdered flat black. The paint is a custom metallic deep red and metallic black, with hot rod pinstripes applied by Bill Marygold Pinstriping. Other extras include new Michelin rubber to give the Bolt a more sporting feel, a Custom Dynamics LED taillight, and a Cobra intake system.
The speedo was relocated to the left side of the engine, 1” drag bars fitted, and the stock canister was ditched in favour of a reverse megaphone was powdered flat black.
There’s a lot of hidden detail in this build, which could almost be a factory bike. But stare a few more minutes, and the work becomes apparent. “All of the items we created for this bike, with the exception of the front end, are products that the end user could put on in their own garage,” says Rob, “and we think that’s pretty cool.”