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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
But for now, we’re happy to pore over the exquisite detailing on this sharp, dark and strangely beautiful MT-07.