After the success of the inaugural 2015 competition, the Yard Built contest returned this year with European Yamaha dealers submitting their custom renditions of Sport Heritage models. More than 22,000 e-voters chose among 33 motorcycles to acknowledge the winners in four categories.
Yamaha came up with a brilliant idea when it launched the Yard Built concept, as evidenced by the multitude of interesting custom builds and the publicity these entailed. Apart from associating its models with some of the world's most famous custom builders, the concept also offered the chance to get its dealer network on board.
Designed with an expansive line of model-specific accessories in mind, the basic rules encourage Yamaha dealers to customize any of its Sport Heritage motorcycles (SR400, XSR700, XV950, XJR1300, VMax) using mostly official parts and accessories, and the occasional hand-made treat.
The 2016 contest received 33 submissions from 11 different European countries, while public voting resumed on March 31. Contestants are divided in three main categories; Mono/Parallel Twin (SR, XSR), V2/V4 (XV, VMax) and Parallel Four (XJR). A special fourth award awaits the Grand Jury Favorite.
Spain contributed exactly one third of the contesting motorcycles, yet came up with only one award thanks to a stylish scrambler XSR700. The surprise star of the show was Poland, with two out of its three customs drawing top honors, while the in-line four award went to the single Greek participant.
By Design E.Castro
Eduardo Castro Motos (Spain)
The Sevillean Yamaha dealer excelled in the Mono/Parallel Twin category with a scrambler version of the XSR700. Off road styling takes center stage, with cues like knobby Continental Twinduro tires, headlight grill, fabric-wrapped exhaust tubes and the meticulously served earthy color scheme.
In terms of performance the only mention goes to the Akrapovic exhaust that climbs high in the tail thanks to a very long connecting tube – probably balancing out possible weight gains from the tiny canister.
In all, the Spanish scrambler's appeal comes from its clean design and wisely selected retro touches like the custom-made single seat, tail light, and grips. We'd only add a bash plate to protect the engine and the exhaust downtube. Torquey and nimble with softish suspensions, the XSR in theory sounds like a realistically effective scrambler.
The Missing Piece
Jigsaw Custom Motorcycles (Greece)
The Parallel Four award was contested by six custom renditions on the XJR1300, to be ultimately won by a race-replica from Nea Makri at the northeast outskirts of Athens.
Described by its creator as "a street legal, old school Brat style and a hardcore Café Racer that speaks to the heart of the old school biker," Jigsaw Custom's The Missing Piece recreates the looks of 1970s Grand Prix racers.
Apart from the very detailed work that went into creating the fairings and tail unit, we also note the spoked wheels, the (stock) pair of Ohlins shock absorbers and a couple of very short tail pipes. The color scheme itself is based on Yamaha's emblematic Speedblock design and apparently replicates the era of Barry Sheene on a factory Yamaha GP500 (1980-1982).
See it and hear it in action at the following video:
The Yamaha dealer from the Polish capital city, Warsaw, was the one of only two that opted to work on the 1,700 cc V4 powerhouse that is the VMax. Interestingly enough the other one was also from Poland, yet it was UHMA Bike that brought home the V2/V4 class trophy which was mostly contested by XV950 customs.
To come up with Noah, the Polish team went for a wide range of cosmetic add-ons or replacement parts, including a rear seat, tail lamp, indicators, handle bar, pedals, speedometer, covers, wheels, rear axle gear case, brackets, clutch, levers and footrests.
The addition of Beringer brake disks with six-pot calipers along with a Prunus exhaust system makes for a very spectacular-looking VMax.
Its motorcycle may have not been the most popular its class, but Yamaha definitely payed due attention to the work of this Warsaw dealer.
The winner of the Grand Jury Favorite award opted to make a replica of Yamaha's very first production motorcycle, the 1955 YA-1 which dressed its popularity with the Red Dragonfly nickname, or Akatombo in Japanese.
The vase is an XSR00, stripped of most of its plastic parts in order to achieve the desired 1950's feel, and furnished with leather satchels and matching toolbag.
Reportedly it was built within 26 evenings in the dealership shop, and was duly appreciated by the contest's jury.