Radical Makeover turns the Yamaha XV750 Virago into a unique Cafe Racer


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Each type of two-wheeled machine is defined by a few essential characteristics that distinguish it from others. For your archetypal cafe racer, emphasizing minimal weight, an aggressive riding position and perfectly flat bone lines are all boxes that need to be ticked. So, choosing a cruiser as your donor when looking to create a bespoke cafe-style entity may not exactly be a wise move – unless you’re looking for a serious challenge, that is.

It appears to be the plan of an American craftsman named Kevin McAllister, who managed to build an exceptional cafe racer using a 1983 variant of Yamaha’s XV750 Virago family. Although this demon has been fairly well received during his life, choosing the Virago as a starting point for this kind of project is either sheer madness or an extremely courageous decision.

After a brief inspection of Kevin’s wallet, we have no doubts that this man knows what he’s doing, so we tend to think it’s the latter. The story of this project began when a friend of McAllister visited him, accompanied by an XV750 which was in a pitiful state. The two sat down for a quick chat to decide the fate of the bike, concluding that Kevin should be free to modify it as he sees fit.

As such, the motorcycle architect proceeded to remove the vast majority of Virago’s original components, with the exception of its engine and frame. With the structure dismantled, the next step was to get a premium front end from a 2003 Honda VTR1000F. The forks are topped with an aftermarket top clamp that supports a Renthal handlebar, carrying switches. Motion Pro, Oury handles and a single mirror.

Magura is responsible for supplying the new levers, while the standard instrumentation has been replaced by an Endurance II digital gauge developed by Trail Tech. In addition, a retro-style LSL headlight replaces the obsolete factory item. The electricity, along with a modern Shorai lithium-ion battery, is hidden in a unique metal case that has been made from scratch.

McAllister took care of welding custom mounting points to the Virago skeleton to allow mounting of a reused fuel tank from an ’77 MY RD400. At the rear, a custom subframe carries an aluminum seat and Supernova LED taillight from Revival Cycles’ inventory, as well as a sleek vinyl-covered saddle. The whole frame has been carefully powder coated to keep things nice and clean.

In terms of powertrain settings, the air-cooled 748cc V-twin engine featured a K&N crankcase vent filter, premium Mikuni carburetors and a stainless steel exhaust system. two in one that has been painstakingly made in-house. Before trimming the front fender to complete the whole thing, Kevin installed a pair of Tarozzi rear-mounted footrests.

We don’t know how long this extensive customization process took, but it’s pretty safe to say we’re seriously in awe of the end result! I mean, the way its seat and gas tank are almost parallel to the ground makes it XV750 look still quickly, and that slight tilt enhances the sporty aesthetic even further.

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About Todd Wurtsbach

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