Motorcycles

Project Rhodium Omega celebrates the weird wonders of the Yamaha GTS1000

Project Rhodium Omega celebrat...
The single-sided rear swingarms on the Project Rhodium Omega look tasty, while the single-sided front ones look absolutely crazy
The single-sided rear swingarms on the Project Rhodium Omega look tasty, while the single-sided front ones look absolutely crazy
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Clay sculpting for the bodywork
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Clay sculpting for the bodywork
Project Rhodium Omega: wire framing
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Project Rhodium Omega: wire framing
Project Rhodium Omega: Akrapovic exhaust
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Project Rhodium Omega: Akrapovic exhaust
Project Rhodium Omega: one has to ask, how did that seat pad get burned in that exact location?
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Project Rhodium Omega: one has to ask, how did that seat pad get burned in that exact location?
Project Rhodium Omega: AiM full colour race dash
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Project Rhodium Omega: AiM full colour race dash
Project Rhodium Omega: center-hub steered front end with custom suspension
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Project Rhodium Omega: center-hub steered front end with custom suspension
Project Rhodium Omega: unique 6-LED headlight unit
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Project Rhodium Omega: unique 6-LED headlight unit
Project Rhodium Omega: slim rear view couldn't be more of a departure from the original GTS1000
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Project Rhodium Omega: slim rear view couldn't be more of a departure from the original GTS1000
Project Rhodium Omega: rear wheel swinging free in the wind thanks to a barely-there seat unit
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Project Rhodium Omega: rear wheel swinging free in the wind thanks to a barely-there seat unit
Project Rhodium Omega: the GTS1000 frame gives it an unique crouching puma stance, and the JSK bodywork pushes this forward
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Project Rhodium Omega: the GTS1000 frame gives it an unique crouching puma stance, and the JSK bodywork pushes this forward
Project Rhodium Omega: keeps its center stand, because, hey, practicality first!
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Project Rhodium Omega: keeps its center stand, because, hey, practicality first!
Project Rhodium Omega: nice wide bars and an alien faceplate
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Project Rhodium Omega: nice wide bars and an alien faceplate
The single-sided rear swingarms on the Project Rhodium Omega look tasty, while the single-sided front ones look absolutely crazy
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The single-sided rear swingarms on the Project Rhodium Omega look tasty, while the single-sided front ones look absolutely crazy
James Chen with his Project Rhodium Omega custom
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James Chen with his Project Rhodium Omega custom
The standard Yamaha GTS1000 circa 1993
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The standard Yamaha GTS1000 circa 1993
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This funky custom motorcycle is built on the crazy foundation of Yamaha's 1993 GTS1000, with its hub-steered front wheel on a single-sided swingarm. The GTS was a beefy, overweight tourer, but JSK Moto has transformed it into a svelte roadster with a crouching robot puma stance.

Yamaha's GTS1000 was a blockbuster curiosity in its day, that being the early 1990s, when Snow's word-salad Informer was the biggest hit on the radio, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air was just starting to pick up steam, and there was only one other hub-steered motorcycle on the market: the reliably unreliable Bimota Tesi.

Yamaha's decision to release a bike so radically different from the rest of its lineup spoke a lot about the audacity of hope and believing in your dreams, or something like that. It was a move at the same level of lunacy as this year's Niken three-wheeler, being such a slap in the face to motorcycling convention that it seemed doomed to failure.

The standard Yamaha GTS1000 circa 1993
The standard Yamaha GTS1000 circa 1993

But like the Niken's three-wheel tilt platform, the GTS1000's hub-center suspension and steering system offered some truly compelling advantages: no fork dive on the brakes or shock squat on the gas; consistent geometry at all stages of the corner for consistent steering and bump handling performance; and vastly reduced flexion and stiction issues.

The fact that it floundered and failed in the market was likely as much to do with its beefy weight, uninspiring performance and sky-high price tag as it was with consumers being wary of a new technology. But flounder and fail it did, and despite a few other efforts to upturn the apple cart, telescopic forks still rule the roost more than 20 years later.

But the GTS and its terribly named RADD (Rationally Advanced Design Development) single-sided front swingarm left a big impact on businessman James Chen, who engaged California's JSK Moto to build the unique custom we present today.

Project Rhodium Omega: the GTS1000 frame gives it an unique crouching puma stance, and the JSK bodywork pushes this forward
Project Rhodium Omega: the GTS1000 frame gives it an unique crouching puma stance, and the JSK bodywork pushes this forward

Titled Project Rhodium Omega, it's a modern futurist design built on the GTS1000 platform. Throwing out the bulky sports tourer body altogether, this bike is an exploration of what might have been, if the GTS had taken off and Yamaha had a chance to explore different body styles on top of that unique vice-shaped frame.

It's hard to imagine a universe where Yamaha would've gone this far, though. From the six-eyed alien LED faceplate back to the burnt red leather bicycle saddle and rudely exposed rear wheel, this thing is one unique machine.

Project Rhodium Omega: rear wheel swinging free in the wind thanks to a barely-there seat unit
Project Rhodium Omega: rear wheel swinging free in the wind thanks to a barely-there seat unit

And it took no small amount of effort. In the space of this 30-month build, the JSK team had to commission custom shocks for the front and rear swingarms from Gears Racing, as well as laser cut side vents and a custom fuel tank and radiator.

The ABS system was ditched to save space, the body panels were built in fiberglass after being sculpted on the bike in clay, and JSK even designed a new steering guide for the bike, but this had to be left on the drawing board after an US$8,000 fiberglass mold was damaged in transit. The stock steering system stays.

Project Rhodium Omega: nice wide bars and an alien faceplate
Project Rhodium Omega: nice wide bars and an alien faceplate

The team claims every part of this build is themed on a pentagonal shape. "The overall design of Project Rhodium Omega is pentagonal," reads a blog post. "No matter the seat, air intake, or different viewing angles, each panel has influence from the pentagon." Perhaps it's something to do with a pronounced lack of satanist tendencies, but we're damned if we can find one anywhere. Let us know if you can see any.

All in all, we like it. From its sentimental beginnings to its crouching puma stance and flawless execution, we think it's a real head-turner with a story to tell. It's kept its centerstand, so chain adjustment will be a breeze, and it might even be a little bit rideable to boot. Nice work, team.

Check the gallery for more photos, or visit the JSK Moto blog for the full story of the build.

Source: JSK Moto blog

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