The phrase, ‘It was a simpler time’ is really only one you can use in hindsight and yet, in creating our future it is so often the past that we yearn for, and which provides us with a great deal of inspiration. How else do you explain so many people choosing to customise buggered old bikes? But there are periods when simple was better and the ’90s gave us motorcycles like the Hornet and the Bandit, which were brilliant and yet basic. Amongst that crop was the Yamaha XJ600, known in many markets as the Seca and our friend from The Foundry in Spain, Carlos Ormazabal has an absolute affinity for these machines. We featured his custom Seca years ago – he daily rides one too – and now he’s here to present his Seca II.

“The history of this motorcycle dates back to 2013. At that time I was building a cafe racer based on a 1985 Yamaha XJ600 Seca, the predecessor of this motorcycle on the market,” Carlos explains. That was the bike we featured, and he scored this 1992 Yamaha XJ600 Diversion (AKA Seca II) at the same time, free of charge, because it was a barn find in a million different pieces. The bike sat for the best part of a decade, but in the back of his mind, Carlos always had a plan. He’d seen on the internet a design based on an XJ that gave it the enduro vibe, and knew one day that he’d build himself the real deal.

“Over the years and step by step I purchased the TRX850 endurance fairing, and a replica of a Yamaha TZ250 tail. And a long the way he also picked up a very cheap 1999 XJ600, which was used as his reliable daily transport. But it seems that Carlos just can’t leave a bike standard for too long, because as he was rebuilding the engine of the ’92, he was using the ’99 as a test bed for suspension upgrades that he could later add to the build, if they proved themselves out on the road. It’s fair to say that few people know these bikes like Carlos, an electronics engineer, so in 2023 he decided it was time to put all of his knowledge into building his best bike yet.

The double cradle frame is not the prettiest thing on the planet, but sprayed in a chassis silver and not a body matching colour like was seen on most factory offerings, it actually comes up very nicely indeed. But only the most keen Yamaha fan will have noticed that the swingarm is not stock, in fact it’s taken from the big daddy, the Yamaha Thunderace 1000 and was first tested on the ’99 bike, proving to Carlos it is a worthwhile swap. “A custom Hagon shock absorber, the stock is excessively soft, with length, spring and oil adjustment, makes the 180 rear tyre stick perfectly to the ground.” The front too has come in for an upgrade, with Hagon fork springs and improved oil, matched to a 20mm lowering.

The braking package remains largely unchanged, with the twin drilled disc and quality calipers, only needing the addition of a powerful GSXR master cylinder to improve the feel at the lever. The black wheels are just the ticket and although we never see rim tape on the bikes we feature, it actually works nicely here, fits the period and helps to set off those sticky Dunlop tyres. But what really gives the race bike vibe is the bodywork and it is no bolt-on proposition. The rear section of the frame has been narrowed and shortened, and a custom box was fabricated to hide the battery and electronics under the seat.

The tail unit which covers it is of course the famous TZ250 piece, but to ensure the look was flawless, Carlos made his own. Using the TZ item as a mould, he was then able to shape it to better suit the lines of the Seca and create his own stunning seat. In true racer fashion, you plant your bum on shaped foam and the aggressive angle of attack gets the legs nicely locked in around the tank. That fuel unit is very sporty given it came on a commuter bike, and doesn’t look at all out of place sitting just behind the TRX850 enduro fibreglass front fairing that takes the look to another level.

Having fitted a new front fender, the colour choice was easy, any Yamaha race bike from that period is always going to look its best in the red and white Marlboro factory racing colour scheme. To really capture the mood, Carlos has added race numbers and the front benefits from a single yellow lensed headlight. Even the engine looks up for the job, and the whole project started with ensuring the mechanicals were spot on. “First I rebuilt the upper engine, valves, pistons, rings etc and put it back in a running condition after so many years.” But then that engine was upgraded to the ’99 unit, with a big oil cooler and rebuilt carbs. “Finally, the stock exhaust manifolds are collected in a 2-1 custom-made link that leads to a modern Yoshimura R1 silencer.”

To take control of his steed, Carlos made up a set of beefy clip-ons that sit at just the right height and hang the rebuilt switchgear. These control a host of new lights, with LED turn signals and an in-house tail tidy that can support a Euro plate, houses a slick LED tail light and ensures the bike is legal out on the road. Of course, being the technical wizz that he is with electronics, Carlos finished his bike off with a full colour LED screen; you sure didn’t get those in the ’90s. The overall finish of the Seca II hits every mark, it’s got the enduro look, and the handling to match, and it certainly proves that sometimes the simple things really are the best.

[ The Foundry Motorcycles ]