Think of a custom Yamaha Virago, and you’ll probably picture a sleek, waspish build from Greg Hageman or Moto Adonis. The seats are stubby and the stance distinctly lean-forward: The epitome of the 21st century café racer.
And so it is with this 1991 Virago 1100, nicknamed ‘Low Tracker.’ It’s squat and slammed down, with nary a hint of streamlining anywhere. And strangely enough, it works.
Before he picks up a grinder, David always has a very clear mental concept for a new build: In this case, it was to make a very low-riding bike with a dark vibe and a very compact look.
To modern eyes, the original Virago 1100 is a faintly ridiculous-looking cruiser—a pastiche V-twin with a stepped seat and a sissy bar, bookended by mismatched wheels.
David binned the 19-inch front wheel first, replacing it with a 16-inch rim that’s only an inch bigger than the back wheel. The rubber is Heidenau’s well-regarded K65, a touring compound.
The front suspension required more drastic surgery. The original 38mm telescopics are gone, replaced by 41mm fully adjustable forks from a 2008 Suzuki GSX-R750.
The yokes and brakes have been carried over too, with twin 310mm discs and four-piston Tokico calipers. New YSS shocks keep the back end well planted.
Given the new suspension and brakes, David’s wisely upgraded the cockpit with Easton EXP 35mm bars, a product popular with motocrossers. The grips are Biltwell and there’s a Gonelli quick open gas throttle for quicker power delivery. The footpegs are Tarozzi.
That lovely tank is from a Suzuki GT750, and suits the stocky nature of the bike perfectly. A 70mm Koso speedometer is inset into the front of the tank, to keep the front end looking clean. In the same spirit, the car-style ignition lock is now under the tank on the right side of the bike.
The horrors of the original rear subframe are gone, with a simple stepped tubular frame welded in its place. A lithium battery now hides under the seat—which is upholstered in Alcantara and cowhide and looks unusually comfortable for a custom build.
Engine mods are restricted to foam filtration and a new exhaust, with a muffler from the southern Italian company MIVV. And that’s probably enough: According to contemporary road tests, the Virago would nail the quarter mile in just under 13 seconds, thanks to its relatively light dry weight (487 pounds). “The power delivery makes it very fun!” says David.
It’s not a mega-budget build, but it’s exceptionally neat. There’s a new electrical loom, cabling is hidden between the tubes, and David’s refinished the frame in a subtle satin black textured powder coat.
In the States, you can pick up a good condition donor Virago XV1100 for less than three big ones. Tempting, isn’t it ..?