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Yamaha XV 125 Virago – Louis Special Custom Bike
The project of a group of Louis apprentices has proven than even a baroque Yamaha mini chopper can form a super basis for a custom bike: they converted the XV 125 into a unique drag racer.
Yamaha XV 125 Virago
– before the conversion
A project by Louis apprentices
On the workshop hoist stood a Yamaha XV 125 Virago, largely unmodified, fitted out with a baroque sissy bar and, both optically and technically, in far from top condition. Is it possible to take this as the basis to design a roadworthy, individual bike which is also stylish and attractive? Our small team of ambitious retail apprentices took on the challenge with enthusiasm.
The Louis youngsters had free rein when it came to implementing their ideas. The only condition was that the conversion had to be completed in five days and could not cost more than €2016. After a brief debate, the young customisers decided to aim for a vintage look, with a large amount of antique patina. However, under no circumstances did they want it to turn out as a chopper, but rather something like a racer. A bold plan!
Before the re-design, the little Virago had to be restored to roadworthiness. The chain set and the brake pads had to be replaced, the carburettor had to be cleaned and reassembled with new seals and float needle valve, the brittle intake rubber had to be replaced and a new battery had to be installed. A motor oil change on the old XV motor was overdue, and finally a fresh spark plug, along with a spark plug cable, made sure it was once more alive and kicking with its four-stroke melody. There were of course a whole load of other parts which had to be cleaned, derusted or relubricated in the process.
Then came the exciting part of the project: the Yamaha was to have a complete makeover. Chopper handlebars, for example, are no longer chopper handlebars when you simply install them the wrong way round, race style. The old seat was to make way for a cafe racer tail section. But how do you adapt it to the frame? What can be sawn off? How do you build stable metal mounts? Our master mechanic was on hand to provide the young creative team with help and advice. The rusty exhaust had to be kept for budgeting reasons, so it was cleaned with the wire brush, sprayed matt black and spruced up with a little heat wrap tape. That's right: a sinister black was also the colour of choice for the rest of the bike. But some contrast was needed, so both the side covers were sprayed rust brown at the front. Spray-painting was also a new experience for our young stylists – sanding back, carefully degreasing, guiding the spray can at the right distance, not too quick and not too slow, without leaving behind any drips, runs or orange peel effects – it's not as simple as it might seem!
And then the electronics – small LED turn signals were required, and an extra-bright LED headlight. Controlling the turn signals with a suitable relay, and cabling everything carefully is really fiddly work.
After five days of concentrated team work, our apprentices then showed the final results off to their amazed colleagues – a once-more functional, sub-zero cool custom bike which, due to the low seat height and the extreme handlebars, admittedly handles a little unusually but without being unrideable. Who can top that in such a short space of time and with such little prior experience?