The economy is slow, you really want a new or custom motorcycle but you're short on cash, well, how about investing some time instead? Chris Tschiffely, along with his brother and dad, went to work on an old $300 Yamaha Maxim and turned it into the bike you see here. In my New Year's post I said, "Do you have an interesting bike? Tell us about it and it might become a Reader's Rides feature." The next day I got a note from Chris that said he had something we might like to check out. A few details got my attention and I asked for the whole story. Here is what he sent back and I have to say, I like it, a lot.
Here's what Chris told me:
The bike started out as a $300 1982 Yamaha Maxim 650, or XJ 650. We originally bought it with the intention of making it a mildly bobbed and chopped daily commuter bike for me, simply a different seat, handlebars and head and tail lights were planned. We never intended to invest too much time or money in it..
So, out came the tools to strip down the body pieces, seat, and electrics enough to chop the rear tail section. After I saw the back end shorter and lighter, I really began to dislike the looks of the stock, tear drop gas tank and after encountering a bird's nest of wires in the headlight, something had to be done to lighten the look of the front end.
We just happen to have picked up this really sweet Moto Guzzi gas tank at a local salvage yard for 60 bucks about a year before. It was rust and dent free but was with out a gas cap. I knew this tank would look awesome and would fit the mental sketch I had drawn, however due to the triple tube backbone of the stock frame, this awesome little cafe tank wouldn't work without some considerable frame work. So after converting the backbone to a larger diameter single tube, and connecting it to the front down tubes for reinforcement, the tank bolted up with its new mounting tabs.
The next step was to get rid of the ridiculous stock turn back handlebars, so we chopped them up and made our own clubman style bars to fit the factory top mounts. We ended up using a brake lever/master cylinder and clutch lever off of a mid 90's GSXR, and the new twist throttle from a Honda CR 125 MX bike. This gave us the clean, bare bones look we were after.
As each my ideas were slowly coming to form exactly what I had envisioned, I could see that the project was really straying from the original quick chop idea.. I didn't want to hold back anymore.. So mock-up and fabrication of the rear fender, seat and tail light followed..
This is when the bike really began to take shape, and many new parts including rear shocks, front fork seals, engine gaskets, exhaust system, tires, air filters and jets were ordered.. At the time, my brother Josh was working at a machine shop, and off the clock he was working on many one-off custom pieces such as the very unique billet gas cap, starter button, frame tube plug, foot peg mounts and bolts, a really slick license plate bracket.
I created a custom wiring harness to slim down the look, and hid the battery, starter relay, and fuse panel inside our own custom oil tank look alike. This was definitely the least enjoyable part of the entire project.
I knew from the beginning I wanted a paint job that mixed styles, era's and emotions. I really wanted a Hot Rod on 2 wheels, so I chose a Porsche red as the primary color, with a pearl white and my dads custom mixed gold/titanium color as an accent..
After assembly the bike fired up on the first try (with rebuilt carbs), and after some basic hand carb tuning (no vacuum sync guage for me) it ran like a bat outta hell. The sound coming out of the 650cc 4 cylinder was absolutely heavenly..
We couldn't have been more pleased with the way the bike turned out, and after a few car shows with it, we now have 1 customer bike in the works with high aspirations for more..
Great job guys! This is exactly the kind of build I like to point out because it shows what you can accomplish when you decide to get to work and do something. This bike is unique, it didn't cost a fortune to build, it reflects very well on the skills of the builders, what's not to like? Chris goes on to say, "We are trying to start our own custom bike/fabrication
business here in Westminster, Colorado and call it Designs in Cold Steel." Well Chris, if this is any indication of the kind of work your shop can turn out, you've got an excellent start.