The Yamaha XV750 — aka the Virago 750 — was a V-twin cruiser with an air-cooled, 55-hp engine and shaft drive. Introduced in 1981, the middleweight Virago would remain in production until 1998 — one of the longer production runs in modern motorcycling. While the bike was a sales success in the ’80s and ’90s, Yamaha engineers and executives surely never anticipated that the Virago would find itself at the heart of the world’s premier custom motorcycle shows some twenty years after the series was discontinued.
Enter Sean Hogan of Portland’s De Stijl Moto, who’s been in love with motorcycles ever since he pictured himself as Ed Furlong speeding around Los Angeles on his dirt bike in Terminator 2 — a man after our own heart. At 12 years old, he hung photos of the Britten V1000 across the walls of his room, but Sean would not own his first bike until he was an adult, a 1977 R100 that he built into a cafe. Since then, he’s accrued a fair collection of tools and does most of his own fabrication. He’s even taking CAD classes at the local community college:
“I made a promise to myself a few years ago that any interest I had I would attack it fully and never make any excuse for why it was out of reach.”
Earlier this month at The One Moto Show, we saw Sean’s Yamaha XV750 build and had to find out more. Sean says the bike was built for passion and personal growth, stressing the patience it takes to build a motorcycle:
“People ask me often if I meditate and I say, ‘does staring at a half built rusted out motorcycle for hours on end count?'”
We think it does, Sean — yes, we do. Below, we get the full story on this Virago “cafe racer / brat / street fighter / restomod,” along with some delicious photos from the likes of @flockaburrrd, @mrpixelhead, @ridewell, and Sean himself.
Virago 750 Custom: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Sean Hogan. I am a salon owner and hairdresser in Portland, Oregon. I have loved motorcycles since I was very young but was never allowed to have them. I remember my dream bike being a 1992 Yamaha TW200, or a Kawasaki KX250. I think more so the TW because it was street legal and I pictured myself being like Ed Furlong in Terminator 2.
The June 1992 cover of Cycle World solidified this when I saw the Britten V1100. I had never seen anything like it! At 12 years old I had no idea about engineering or fabrication but I loved how stripped down and mechanical the bike looked. I hung the pictures from the magazine all over my walls in my room.
I actually didn’t own a bike until I was an adult. My first bike was a 1977 R100 which I built into a cafe. As a business owner I work 25 hours a day 8 days a week but any free time I have is designated to building bikes. I have amassed a decent collection of tools and am able to do most fabrication in my home workshop. I am taking classes at my local community college for CAD currently. I made a promise to myself a few years ago that any interest I had I would attack it fully and never make any excuse for why it was out of reach. I’d love to turn motorcycles into a business creating and fabricating parts.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1983 Yamaha XV750 (virago).
• Why was this bike built?
It was built for passion and personal growth. I wanted it to be a learning experience that I could apply to other facets of my life. I did everything the hard way. Building a motorcycle helps hone skills and build patience. People ask me often if I meditate and I say does staring at a half built rusted out motorcycle for hours on end count.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I wanted the bike to look fast and have a modern feel. There are so many amazing bikes out there to get inspired by. I’m not a purist. I like when things get modernized and still keep some semblance of the feel. It will always be a bike from 1983. But hopefully it’s also a pleasure to ride in terms of suspension and braking. I wanted the stance to be aggressive and simple. I pull inspiration from other builders and made specific tweaks based on my own wants or desires. Other than that, I let the bike speak to me. I maybe had ideas that fell through because when I put them on the bike said no, do it this way.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The only original parts on the bike are the motor, frame, swing arm, and tank. It has a 2001 R1 front end, 2004 R6 rear suspension in which I designed a bolt-on adapter to fit the part. Exhaust was built using pie cuts. And seat pan upholstered by Roxan Jane (@rangeneedlework), subframe with integrated tail light. Clip ons, Daymaker LED headlight, battery box to fit battery in front of the rear wheel. Digital tach/speedo. Tarozzi rearsets. And lots of small shifts that would take too long to mention.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Not yet, not sure it ever will.
• How would you classify this bike?
Cafe racer/ brat/ street fighter/restomod. I don’t really know. It has elements of all.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
This bike was my introduction to welding, so I’m most proud of getting good geometry and fit up in the fabricated parts.
• What’s the story behind the name De Stijl Moto?
de stijl was a Dutch art / design movement from 1917-1931. It translates to the style. It encompasses the idea of reductionism. Not necessarily minimalism but more or less removing the superfluous elements from design. Determining basic function of a piece and then exploring the aesthetic value with equal importance’s give to both form and function. In my opinion the best design happens when we have confines or are solving a problem. When given complete freedom in design the results are often times scattered and have no conceptual idea. The practitioners of the movement also disagreed on occasion and found themselves eventually parting ways developing various iterations of the original movement. I saw this as an opportunity to adapt, having strong guidelines but nothing concrete. I utilize these principals for everything in my life, whether it be building a bike, or making a desk for my home office, or arranging the layout of anything really.
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