Onyx Blade: Rough Crafts’ Razor-Sharp Yamaha MT-07

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
The revival of Yamaha during the last three years has been remarkable. A series of rapid-fire product releases has done wonders for the company’s image, with the biggest boost coming from the MT-07.

The sporty 689 cc parallel twin—called the FZ-07 in the US—has sold by the shedload in Western markets. So it’s surprising we haven’t seen more customs based on this platform since Shinya Kimura’s ‘Faster Son’ build.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
A few days ago Bunker Customs released a crisply-styled Yard Built XSR700, based on the ‘classic’ variant of the MT-07. And now we have ‘Onyx Blade,’ a dark and handsome MT from Winston Yeh of Rough Crafts.

It’s a radical reworking of Yamaha’s middleweight star—so much so, there’s only the distinctive engine to give the game away.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
But this is obviously a Rough Crafts bike. The bodywork creases, the matte grey paint and the muscular stance are all signatures of the Taipei workshop.

Onyx Blade is a commission, built for a customer wanting an agile and fast machine to tackle the heavy traffic in the Taiwanese capital. It’s an environment that suits the MT-07, but this one stands out rather than blends in.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
“I think the stock MT-07 has got quite a lot of ‘design’ going on,” says Winston. “But it’s actually the frame that’s really interesting—especially the triangular tubing that the engine hangs off. That’s what I wanted to show.”

The sharp-edged vibe of the standard bike is still there, though—albeit rendered in a completely different way with new aluminum bodywork.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
It’s been fabricated by long-time Rough Crafts collaborator OneHandMade, and given a sublime finish by Air Runner Custom Paint.

“The original idea was to do a glossy Lamborghini grey—with no matte,” says Winston. “But the owner insisted that Rough Crafts bikes have to be matte—so a layer of matte clear was applied on top of the base paint.”

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
If there’s a criticism of the stock MT-07, it’s usually centered on the non-adjustable forks—which some riders find too soft. So Winston commissioned the race suspension specialist Gears Racing to modify the front end. They’ve shortened the forks a little, firmed them up, and added a preload adjustment.

The new tank and tail section add visual heft to the MT-07, so the front end is balanced out with striking fork covers. And given that it rains 165 days a year in Taipei, they’ll offer useful protection as well.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
The tires strike another practical note: they’re Pirelli’s Diablo Rain pattern, similar to the ‘wets’ used in WSBK and also good for supermotard use. They’re wrapped around custom 17-inch wheels built by Wukawa Industry.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
The MT-07’s engine is a creamy delight, so Winston has restricted the upgrades to classic K&N filters and an Akrapovič exhaust system—which the stock ECU has handled with aplomb.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
“I once had a WR450F, and after changing the exhaust, it ran like crap and needed a retune,” he says. “But on the MT-07 it worked very well, it’s very smooth.”

Look closely, and you’ll spot a few Rough Crafts parts discreetly dotted around this build—the ‘Fighter’ bars, the finned risers, the gas cap and the headlight grille. The grips and bar-end turn signals are from Motogadget, and the brake controls from ISR.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
In a stroke of genius, Winston has relocated the stock instrument cluster to the tank. It’s a perfect stylistic fit.

Next in the Rough Crafts build queue is an MV Agusta and a Ducati Scrambler. And an XSR700 has just arrived from Yamaha, slated to join the pantheon of official Yard Builds.

Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts
But for now, we’re happy to pore over the exquisite detailing on this sharp, dark and strangely beautiful MT-07.

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Onyx Blade: A Custom Yamaha MT-07 By Rough Crafts