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Shed wreck to cafe racer: 'It started as a standard 1982 Virago'

Published: 19 July 2017

To say that the Yamaha Viragos of the early 80s are a bit of an eyesore it an understatement. Thankfully though, they make an excellent base bike for a custom built and as such have seen a surge in popularity in recent years.

For James Elwell from Worcester, it presented the opportunity to build a custom bike from a long-forgotten machine.

“It started out as a standard 1982 XV that I bought from a family member who had it in his shed for the last 15 years.” James recalled. “I stripped the bike down to the bare frame which I then painted gloss black and then started building it back up”


With the simple addition of a new rear subframe, the back end of the machine was instantly transformed and made the bike unrecognisable as the ugly duckling it started out as.

Housing a lightweight lithium ion battery and most of the electronics, the subframe also has a practical purpose too. The rear seat cowl has been fashioned from aluminium and was hand-shaped by James.

A second rear wheel was fitted to the front, replacing the 19-inch standard and matching the size to the rear so that the bike sits better.

Providing the soundtrack of that 750cc v-twin is a custom 2 into 1 exhaust that features a built-in baffle. And feeding air to the carb is taken care of with a custom inlet manifold which features a trumpet stack.

The controls up have been tided up too, with a set of clip-ons giving the right stance to the machine. The controls have either been removed or re-housed too to keep it all minimal.

“I wanted to keep the top yoke area as clean as possible so I have done away with all the clocks and warning light and just fitted a single speedo in to the centre of the fuel tank. There’s also a push button starter fabricated into the top yoke too.”

The bike showcases plenty of skills and gives new life to a machine that was initially struck with the ugly stick and neglected for 15 years. Top job.

Do you have a shed built bike? We'd love to hear from you - email with some details and images of your creation.

Looking for the perfect two-wheeled companion? Visit MCN Bikes For Sale website or use MCN's Bikes For Sale App.

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