Speed Read: The Yamaha XSR900 DB40 retro racer and more

The latest custom motorcycles, news and prototypes
Two very different Yamahas dominate this weekend’s edition of Speed Read. We take a closer look at the new Yamaha XSR900 DB40 Prototype, and we profile a slick Yamaha XS650 street tracker from Canada. We also check out a new BMW R18 kit from Poland, and a tasty Honda VF1000F2 from Bavaria.

Yamaha XSR900 DB40 Prototype
Yamaha XSR900 DB40 Prototype Since it broke cover in 2016, the Yamaha XSR900 has been a hit. Effectively a tweaked MT-09 in neo-retro trim, it looks, sounds and rides amazing—and it gets even better when you customize it.

This custom Yamaha XSR900 comes directly from the Japanese marque’s in-house design team. Dubbed the ‘DB40 Prototype, it broke cover last weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. And we absolutely love it.

Yamaha XSR900 DB40 Prototype
The DB40 Prototype follows on from CROIG’s ‘Yard Built for Good’ custom XSR900, and from the launch of the brand’s new range of café racer-style XSR accessories. It’s a nod to Yamaha’s illustrious racing history, and draws inspiration from 80s and 90s racing motorcycles. We can clearly see inspiration from the Yamaha TZR250, YZR500 OW01, and other classic Yamaha race bikes.

The DB40’s most obvious feature is its incredible front fairing. Supported by custom brackets and fairing stays mounted behind the top yoke, it does a bang-up job of injecting some old-school-cool into this modern performance motorcycle. But that’s not all that Yamaha has carried over from their heritage.

Yamaha XSR900 DB40 Prototype
The ‘DB40’ designation refers to Yamaha’s 40-year-old Deltabox frame design. First featured on the Yamaha YZR500 Grand Prix machine in 1982, it’s been updated over the years and is still being produced today. The highlight this, this bike’s frame has been painted silver, putting it on full display against the dark bodywork.

Öhlins suspension, a moody paint scheme, and a very slick tail section transform the naked XSR900 into a slippery retro race bike. The taillight and seat are particularly neat, and we love how the bottom half of the engine is left exposed.

Yamaha XSR900 DB40 Prototype
The Yamaha XSR900 DB40 Prototype was ridden up Goodwood Hill on each of the festival’s four days in front of an adoring crowd. If it wasn’t for the lack of indicators and headlight, we would think that this is a production bike—it’s that well-finished. And with rumors swirling that Yamaha are planning to release a new R9 based on the XSR’s cracking triple-cylinder engine, we’re hopeful. [Yamaha Motorcycles]

Yamaha XS650 street tracker by Matt Thomas
Matt Thomas’ Yamaha XS650 The Yamaha XS650 was quite advanced when it was released in 1969, and gave the British parallel twins of the time a good run for their money. Its second lease on life came in the 2010s, when it quickly became a darling of the burgeoning café racer scene.

Matt Thomas is a fan. Based in Canada, he picked up a 1979 Yamaha XS650 for just CA$450 [about $340] last summer, then tore it down in his home garage. Spending every evening and weekend through winter while his kids were tucked away in bed, Matt turned the salvaged bike into a svelte street tracker.

Yamaha XS650 street tracker by Matt Thomas
The big win here is how well Matt has slimmed down the XS650. A 1974 DT360 fuel tank sits up to, with its narrow lines suiting the style of the build nicely. It’s been painted in a stylish Lamborghini Titanium Silver.

The engine was cleaned and polished, and the top end was rebuilt. The factory headers were probably tubes of rust by the time Matt got his hands on the bike so he replaced them with a beautiful two-into-one system, terminated with a reverse cone muffler. A pair of Mikuni VM34 carbs finishes off the engine.

Yamaha XS650 street tracker by Matt Thomas
The frame was liberated of all unnecessary tabs and brackets, while the subframe was chopped and looped. It was then finished with a custom seat that Matt’s wife was kind enough to upholster for him.

The rear fender was made by welding pieces of a 1979 and a 1983 Yamaha fender together, then painted to match the tank. Matt fabricated the chain guard and tailight setup himself. Low-profile turn signals are hidden on the bike, and the build is kept street legal by way of a side-mounted license plate.

Yamaha XS650 street tracker by Matt Thomas
The wheels were painted black and treated to a new set of chunky tires, a cut-down front fender, and drilled brake rotors. Fork gaiters and a 5” bottom-mount headlight give the front end even more attitude.

Mounted on new risers and 1” bars are a set of Vans x Cult grips, a new throttle assembly, a new master cylinder, and a few basic switches. A tiny Motogadget speedo was squeezed into the space between the frame and the tank, further reducing clutter.

Matt tells us that he’s been fixing up bikes for years, but this is his first complete teardown and custom build. And if this is his first, we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. [Matt Thomas Instagram]

BMW R18 custom kit by Unikat
BMW R18 kit by Unikat Motorworks When BMW first pulled the covers off the production version of the R18, the motorcycling world was a little… taken aback. The idea of the traditionally pragmatic German marque releasing a cruiser was a little weird. And even thought the BMW R18 looks a lot better than the last cruiser BMW released, the ill-fated R1200C, it’s still long, low and heavy, with a few awkward design points.

That said, there’s a distinct beauty lurking deep within the R18 that can be persuaded to rise to the surface. That’s where Poland’s Grzegorz Korczak and his workshop, Unikat Motorworks, come into the picture. They have created a bolt-on bobber kit for the BMW R18 that transforms the bike entirely via a handful of well-judged tweaks.

BMW R18 custom kit by Unikat
The most notable design improvement is the new muffler design. Unikat has fabricated tighter and shorter silencers that blend beautifully with the OEM headers and heat shields. They take over 100 hours to make by hand but they are a marked improvement over the bloated factory fishtails.

Unikat has installed dB killers, so that the exhausts unleash a bassy rumble rather than a harsh scream. And they can produce these in black too, if that’s your jam.

BMW R18 custom kit by Unikat
The kit also includes a single bobber-style diamond-stitched seat, and the necessary mounting hardware. It sits on small struts that are adjustable, offering an inch and a half of movement back and forth, and the ability to adjust the angle. Lower down are a set of stainless steel foot pegs, designed to mount to the frame without any mods.

Custom 18” wheels have been laced onto the stock hubs, and there are custom fenders both front and rear. The headlight and gauge cluster have been lowered using more custom brackets to improve the lines. Motogadget bar-end turn signals and mirrors, and leather grips, sit on custom handlebars, slimming down the control area.

BMW R18 custom kit by Unikat
The engine has been painted to match the sides of the tank and various covers have been blacked out. Real silver flake was used to pinstripe the tank, adding an extra touch of class to the otherwise classic BMW paint scheme. Highsider LEDs sit under the seat, doing double duty as taillights and turn signals.

Unikat are selling most of the above as a bolt-on kit. The set includes the seat, exhausts, fenders, foot pegs, headlight and gauge lowering kit, and a license plate mount. The rest is up to you. [Unikat Motorworks]

Honda VF1000F2 restomod by Woidwerk
Honda VF1000F2 by Woidwerk Looking at a stock Honda VF1000F2, you’d never really know that a 998 cc, 122 hp V-four hides under all those fairings. Back in 1985, Honda squeezed the big four into a sports tourer, equipped with an extra radiator, and proved that it could be quite a versatile package.

Fast forward 40 years, and Ralf Eggl of lower Bavaria’s Woidwerk came into possession of a very special VF1000F2. This particular 1985 example was bought, brand new, by Ralf’s grandfather, and is the very bike that introduced a young Ralf to the world of motorcycling. His grandfather used the bike every day until 2005, after which it was parked for ten years.

Honda VF1000F2 restomod by Woidwerk
The bike was in sore need of attention, and Ralf was all too happy to oblige. He started with the most obvious modification—getting rid of much of the fairing. But this was easier said than done.

First, he had to remove the lower fairing and its mounts, then, he lowered the entire front section of the fairing by a few inches. This left ugly gaps between the fairing and tank, but Ralf was able to fabricate aluminum air scoops to blend the two back together. The smoked screen was cut down to complete the package

Honda VF1000F2 restomod by Woidwerk
The tank, engine, and front end were mostly left alone—but they were rebuilt and given a fresh coat of paint. The back end is where Ralf got tricky again, by chopping a chunk out of the factory seat and narrowing the entire rear section. A new two-up seat with custom stitching sits up top, and although it doesn’t look like anything Honda would’ve done in the 80s, it still has a factory feel.

Finishing touches include a new exhaust (donated by an Aprilia V4), red coolant hoses, a slick Martini-Porsche style paint scheme, and new Wilbers rear suspension. It’s another fantastic build from Woidwerk, and it’s a great way to honor the man who got Ralf into bikes in the first place. [Via]

Honda VF1000F2 restomod by Woidwerk

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