The Yamaha XS400 was built from 1976 to 1982, offering a 36-hp parallel twin engine and 6-speed gearbox, along with some nice features like an automatic petcock and self-canceling turn signals. The bike came in a number of “factory custom” trim lines so popular at the time — making for a funky, mini-cruiser look. The bike has been largely ignored by the custom community in favor of the XS650 and XS750/850, whose lines lend themselves more readily to customization.
Enter Chus Valencia of Spain’s Kacerwagen, who is something of an iconoclast in the customs world. Chus prefers to build bikes that defy easy labels or categorization:
“I do not like to copy or to pigeonhole my modified motorcycles by a style — I like that they carry my stamp. I like to take risks and that my creations do not look like the others.”
When Chus scored this ’83 XS400 at a good price, he was unafraid to tackle the complex chassis and lines. He stripped down the bike in his shed and sat in his chair, creating and visualizing designs until he had the vision clear in his head:
“It was clear to me that I wanted a thin motorcycle, of small volume and with large diameter tires. I opted for Avon tires.“
Much of the bike is hand-built from scratch, with sheetmetal fairings and bodywork, and we especially love the square headlight — taken from an old Jeep! Below, we get the full story on the “La Gypsy” along with some gorgeous photos from Abel Rodriguez of Nfoco Digital.
Yamaha XS400: In the Builder’s Words
(Translated from Spanish by BikeBound.com.)
I do not like to copy or to categorize my modified motorcycles by a style — I like that they carry my stamp. I like to take risks and that my creations do not look like the others.
I bought an ’83 Yamaha XS400 at a very good price. An unattractive base and little exploited due to the complexity of its chassis. Once I had it in my shed I undressed it completely. I took my chair to think and I started to create designs, visualizing them in my head.
Already with the new tires, I lowered the height of the motorcycle as much as possible. I manufactured a tubular swingarm, discarding the original square and ugly piece, but respecting the cantilever. The front is the original but with the forks dropped 18cm.
The subframe was made from scratch, also with a tubular design to which I incorporated the rear tail/fairing, which is attached to the subframe, all built in sheet metal, with the seat that finishes the tail.
The tank is made of sheet metal itself. The front fairing is also made of sheet metal with a square headlight from an old Jeep.
The handlebar is handmade and gives the feeling of being floating.
The engine was sandblasted and painted in a gray-blue. The motor covers were sandblasted and semi-perforated and then brushed and lacquered to achieve that aged look.
The exhaust manifold is a 2-in-1 with a trumpet-like output. The air filters are of the K&N brand.
The paint is a classic VW blue combined with a yellow caterpillar and a cream color. All the paint is a bilayer and the letters are painted to receive seven coats of lacquer.
And that’s how this nice and different bike came out.