Before we get too far into this post, and in the interests of openness and honesty, I feel it’s best to be straight with you all. I have a Virago. No, I’m not too sure why either. Blame it on Doc Chops and the Classified Moto guys. Or blame it on one too many old bike searches on eBay. Whatever the case, I went on holidays at the end of last year and somehow or other I came back the proud and slightly confused owner of an ’81 XV750. Now I know that some just don’t get it, but for me the real appeal is the breath-taking transformation that these bikes can make with some seemingly simple mods. A few parts dropped here and a few minor mods there and suddenly you’ve gone from lardy Japanese Harley wanna-be to busting some pretty cool custom moves. And the Virago you see here, owned by one Ben Rowe, is definitely no exception. Those Transformers ain’t got nothing on us guys.

Here’s Ben. “I’ve been riding/building/repairing dirt bikes since I was 16. This is my very first bike build ever! I hate the name “Virago”, to me it sounds like some fancy fashion boutique store where you would get your wife a nice dress. My goal was to murder every little bit of the “Virago” out of this thing with the aim of it’s name being changed to “Umm …what is that??”

Started by cutting off the rear end and the upper suspension mounts and relocating them 50mm higher to lower the rear. Lowered the fork also 50mm. The forks on these things are ridiculously long, but once lowered it gave it a lot less of a “nose bleed” stance.

The bobtail rear fender is the stock fender, sectioned, hammer formed, all the holes shaved up and the radius re-cut. Also rolled up some radius floating fender struts that bolted to the lower shock mounts on the swing arm with a side mount tail light/number plate setup.

Pipes were made from a mix from the stock exhaust and mandrel bends with stainless steel dump tips. The rear exhaust exits to the right compared to stock it snaked through the frame. Slip-ons have small baffles to keep the “authorities” in check and a sneaky cross-over pipe to equalize head pressures due to the uneven header lengths. It still has a fat bark, which causes broken necks and miscarriages when you twist that throttle in a populated area.”

“Air filter is off a V-star to replace the ugly pod things they came with as standard. I’m not sure what acid Yamaha was on when they designed these. Fabbed up some stays and an adapter flange to fit it. Rebuilt the carbs and gave it a tune. Battery box was the biggest headache out of everything. Trying to get everything electrical to fit where it wasn’t originally supposed to really sucked. But I won in the end.  It turned out to be easy to get to all the relays and battery removal is a tool-less breeze.

Fuel tank was a King sporty tank. It took a fair bit of time to pull it off. The frame backbones on these bikes are ridiculously wide since the induction system runs through it. I cut the tunnel out, hammer formed up a new tunnel and stitched it back in. Tank also uses the existing frame mounts for easy install/removal.

Painted scheme was in 3 contrasts of black. Gloss, satin and matt. I didn’t want the bike to look like a bland BBQ hot plate so I mixed it up giving it a few different “brews” of black to break it up. I then proceeded waving my arms in a series of motions with the spray gun and an airbrush with some simple stencils. The fuel tank gloss over satin black Meat Cleaver “SKC” logo (Street Kleaver Customs) along with a white air brushed “13” each side since I’m heavily influenced by Kustom Kulture and Hot Rods.”

“Wheels, forks, triple clamps and everything else was painted gloss black. The cockpit was fitted with some Biltwell Keystone bars. New GT style grips, nice small 2″ speedo and a mix of bullet indicators all round. On the comfort side of things is a La-Rosa leather 15″ seat with a handmade seat mount panel that covers the fuses and relays. Utilizes all the stock seat mounts for ease of removal to get to the electrical brain stuff.”

“It’s fun to ride, and it has enough torque to pull out trees. The very first outing on it, I pulled into the service station to top it up with fuel to check how much the tank capacity it holds. I ducked inside to pay for fuel, came back outside to find a dozen Harley riders all standing around it asking “what” it was… They were astounded that it was an 1100 Virago, shook my hand patted me on the back with a “job well done mate”. Proud!”