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The Never-Ending Story: Building a Yamaha TR1 drag bike

Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk
The European sprint scene has exploded in the past few years. As well as the famous Glemseck 101 sprints, we’ve now got the Sultans of Sprint and Essenza series. And no self-respecting festival is complete without the roar of tuned machines racing down the eighth-mile.

The bug has bitten many custom builders, but the adrenaline rush has a downside: building a successful drag bike is a journey that never really finishes. And no one knows that better than Schlachtwerk’s Tommy vom Hof, whose Yamaha can blast through 200 meters in less than five seconds.

Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk
Tommy is best known for the rapid, performance-oriented Kawasaki W-series customs that roll out of his Offenbach, Germany workshop. But in 2014, he decided to tear down a humble TR1 tourer.

The air-cooled 981cc V-twin had already spent over three decades on the road, and was built for the long haul. “It had all the touring goodies you can imagine,” says Tommy. “A really big fairing, heated grips, hard bags, and a radio!”

Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk
After Tommy finished, he nicknamed his remodeled TR1 the ‘Skinny Beast.’ She was sporting 18” forged aluminum wheels, Yamaha YZF-R1 forks, a high-performance Wilbers shock, big brakes, and sticky modern tires. “It was 172 kilos and 75 hp,” Tommy recalls. “Not bad for an ex-touring ship.”

Tommy decided to chance his luck on the drag strip. He entered the TR1 into the Cafe Racer sprint for street legal bikes at Glemseck, and won. “After that, I couldn’t sell the bike,” says Tommy. “So I decided to keep it just for race use. I was in love with the mean green of the Ford Focus RS paint.”

Sultans Of Sprint drag racer by Schlachtwerk Motorcycles.
Things started getting serious: Tommy was invited to enter the Skinny Beast (above) in the biggest and fastest class at Glemseck in 2015—the Sprint International. So he bored out the motor to 1062 cc, and fitted ported XV750 heads, race cams, 40mm Dell’Orto carbs, a BT1100 Bulldog crankshaft, and better tires.

Plus a ‘wet shot’ nitrous oxide system that lifted power momentarily from 95 to 115 horsepower. It was enough to win that race, too.

Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk
By now Tommy was well and truly bitten by the drag racing bug—and had a reputation to maintain. As 2016 rolled around, it was time to get Skinny Beast ready for the Sultans of Sprint series.

On went a 80mm longer aluminum swingarm that also trimmed four kilos of weight, an M&H Racemaster drag slick, and an extra ten horses of nitrous power via a more sophisticated controller.

Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk
This setup was enough to win two stages—but a burnt clutch led to a DNF at Glemseck, and dropped Tommy to third in the overall standings.

This year, the changes are way more drastic. Tommy’s converted the TR1 (can we still call it a TR1?) to a fuel-in-frame setup with an XV750 frame, allowing him to ditch the conventional tank and run a carbon fiber monocoque body.

Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk
He’s also ditched the rear subframe, fitted an even lighter aluminum swingarm, and trimmed some more kilos off the exhaust system. Skinny Beast was renamed ‘Grandma,’ and she weighs a positively svelte 325 pounds (147 kilos).

“This bike is now only fit for one purpose—the 1/8th mile,” says Tommy. “Cornering isn’t possible any more…”

Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk
Tommy’s 2017 journey is going well so far. He took second place at the Sultans of Sprint opener at Monza, and won the Montlhéry round. This weekend, he’ll be lining up at the Bikers Classics in Belgium.

But it may soon be time to knock Grandma on the head. “I’m now thinking about building a Kawasaki W-series dragster,” says Tommy. “The W is not the strongest base bike, but I’ve built a lot of W650/800 customs, so now it’s time to build a really fast one.”

The journey continues.

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Yamaha TR1 drag bike by Schlachtwerk