Factory-backed collaborations with custom bike builders are nothing new. Let’s face it; they’re a PR gift when it goes right. You only need to take a long look at the ‘Bavarian Fistfighter,’ the high-class minimalist, Rough Crafts BMW R Nine T, if you need convincing.
AUTO FABRICA’S TYPE 11 – YAMAHA YARD BUILT
Yamaha is not a company known for such collaborations. They prefer instead to beaver quietly away in Hamamatsu, creating class-dominating motorcycles that spring into the world like it’s no big deal.
In 2011 though, Yamaha Europe came up with the ‘Hyper Modified’ project enlisting the help of builders like Roland Sands (VMax Lazereth) and Marcus Waltz (XV950 El Raton Asesino). From this success, ‘Yard Built’ was launched and the rest, as they say, is history.
Seven years down the line, the Yard Built project is stronger than ever. The latest collaboration sees Yamaha pair-up with Auto Fabrica, one of the UK’s new wave of highly talented boutique bike builders.
Unlike other manufacturers, who’ve travelled down this route and use a specific bike as a base, Yamaha allows builders to choose the model themselves.
Auto Fabrica went for the three-cylinder neo-retro XSR900. The team believed that this model, in particular, possessed just the right combination of cutting-edge technology with a tip of the hat towards the XS750 triples of the late 70’s.
AUTO FABRICA TYPE 11 – DEVIL IN THE DETAIL
Co-founders Bujar and Gaz Muharremi, together with in-house designer Toby Mellor, are all firm believers that the devil is in the detail. The team decided on a concept that would see classic racing lines flow effortlessly into a futuristic vibe, using cutting-edge finishes to blur the boundaries.
With detailed conceptual drawings produced, work began on the Type 11 Prototype One. The P1 was created as a track only bike to allow their creativity to be unhindered by the legal necessities of lights and indicators, all of which would follow later.
While the P1 made the transition from drawing board to the workbench, the boys decided to give an original XS750 the Type 11 treatment too. This step may seem like an over-elaboration of the process, but there was method behind the madness.
Using the bike (designated the Type 11 Prototype Three!) as a testbed for new materials and finishes, paved not only the way for the XSV (Prototype Two) but also produced a stunning XS750 café racer.
AlIEN LOOKING TRACKER RACER
Back to the Prototype One, and the finished result was stunning, taking to the track like a pro. The bike was as balanced and poised as a racer, yet looked as alien as only a full-on hand carved custom bike can.
With the road legal XS750 looking every inch a modern classic, and the lessons learned from the track-focused XSV, there was only one thing left to do, release the beast.
Looking at the original drawings for the Auto Fabrica Yamaha, you may think that the designer had given himself too much free rein. The plan just a bit too trick, the fit and finish a stretch too far for the engineers to translate. In reality, the Type 11 Prototype Two totally nails it.
The bike tells its own story, the countless hours spent battering shaping and curving metal is there for the entire world to see. The physical execution of beautifully rendered metalwork is a true testament to the harmony that exists between designer and builder.
Throwing lavish amounts of high-end accessories at a project though does not a custom bike make! Parts have to be chosen with care so that each one plays a role in enhancing the whole.
The bespoke Ohlins, Brembo calipers, and BST carbon wheels were selected to accompany the Auto Fabrica, trademark one-piece, sand bent exhaust pipes and the hand-fabricated fairing/gas tank and seat unit.
The Yard Built project is not some blasé guarantee of success, for either Yamaha or the bike builder, as each lay their reputation on the line. In this case, however, the Auto Fabrica Type 11 is a perfect example of Yamaha producing a bike capable of being transformed into something extraordinary, yet allowing its original character to shine through. As I said at the outset, when it works, it really works.
The Auto Fabrica Type 11 Yamaha XSR900 is now available in strictly limited numbers.
- Images Courtsey of YAMAHA