As a business, having new orders come in is exactly what you are after, but from the moment you sign the paperwork to the day of delivery, a minefield of issues can crop up. In the custom bike world that can be everything from parts suppliers failing to deliver, subcontractors providing shoddy quality work and throw in a global pandemic grinding everything to a halt and what seemed like a relatively straight forward order soon has you questioning why you chose to work in this crazy industry. Jakub Beker of Poland’s Ugly Motors faced all those challenges and more, but that didn’t stop him from delivering a perfect pair of Yamaha XV’s to two very happy friends.
Back in 2017, we featured a stunning build by Jakub that was met with rave reviews, a Yamaha XV920 Virago with a polished tank and olive green racing stripe. The bike not only lit the internet on fire but caught the attention of two friends in Jakub’s home country who gave him a call to request an XV of their own and the good news, budget was of no particular concern to them. “The Grey Yamaha was highly influenced by the vision of the customer. He knew what he wanted and got it in his mind. My job was to help him visualize his ideas and keep the project together,” Jakub explains.
“The Blue Yamaha was more like ‘I trust your taste and knowledge’, with the client’s only demand being a flat navy-blue colour for the tank. I’ve got to admit that this is the best approach from a client that a builder can get.” So, with the orders in, it was time to get to work and with a pair of XV’s in his shop as the donors, the first task was to transform the front ends of each bike. To get the job done a pair of Kawasaki ZX10-RR full fronts was bought and adapted to the Yamaha frame using a custom steering stem and upper triple clamp. “We’ve designed and built with NRC Impossible Dream, custom front hubs to adapt Excel rims.” These are laced with spokes designed precisely for this job.
Not only is the ZX front-end a hell of an upgrade it also came with huge 330mm discs, but using a different brake caliper meant that a set of spaces had to be machined to make the two work together. Completing the front-end transformation on each machine is a set of carbon fibre bars that slot into Womet-Tech clip-on clamps. Moving to the rear end, to get it matching, “Custom rear spokes and hub spacers to fit XV535 spoked rear hubs to XV920 shaft,” was all pieced together to get the job done. With a pair of fully adjustable rear shocks chosen for each machine and the new rims wrapped up in sticky Dunlop tyres; Jakub had them both rolling.
Moving to the looks and with Covid-19 having kicked in and making things much harder than they needed to be, there was more trouble for Jakub to overcome, “I’ve had lots of problems concerning quality and deadlines with parts made for me with subcontractors.” This pushed the deadline back, but soldier on he did. Over the top of a custom subframe for each bike, both get their own unique tailpiece, with the blue bike getting the most minimalist look of all. The grey bike’s tail features a boxed-in finish, reminiscent of ’70s racing bikes, with a neat taillight recessed into the metal.
Both builds feature almost identical seats, beautifully upholstered and trimmed for the task. But the tanks diverge quickly, the tank of the grey bike is a big slab giving a bold appearance. While on the blue bike, the more sculpted sides and rounder lines work perfectly with the shape of the tail for a cohesive look. Each is finished with a new filler cap, brushed alloy and the Yamaha side badges have been taken back to raw metal. Time for paint and while the blue bike features a very traditional black frame and swingarm, with painted tins. The grey bike sees the hue extend over the frame, swimgarm and other details of the bikes.
Next Jakub had to build entirely new wiring looms for each and to ensure they enjoyed the very best electricals, he raided the Motogadget catalogue. Each bike features an m.unit as a command hub, m.lock for security, motoscope for the instrument and then switches, blinkers, and even polished mirrors all taken from the big M. Both bikes feature JMT batteries, with the starter solenoid and regulator hidden all as one. Then for the headlight, it was time for a call to the USA, “TruckLite made for Wrangler projectors are really good quality. But they don’t come with brackets of any sort. We’ve designed our own from aluminum over 7” tube.”
The thumping heart of the beasts, Yamaha V-Twin engines, each draw their breath via polished K&N air filters. Before Jakub got crazy and built a pair of truly stunning one-off exhaust systems, totally unique to each machine and looking ultra-clean with their internal baffling serving as the mufflers. To finish off the projects, the Ugly Motors man had a chance to do something he’d always wanted on an XV, ditch the big footrest mounts and build complete custom rearsets. Mounts and carbon heel guards from TRW form the basis, with the rest pieced together in-house for the nicest rearsets we’ve seen on an XV. 2 & ½ years and Jakub was exhausted, sometimes thinking “I don’t want to do this anymore.” But he’s happy he stuck at it, overcame endless issues outside of his control, and delivered two incredible machines for two very happy friends and clients.