“Mechanical vibes like an old piston engine fighter…”
Few motorcycles have garnered the cult following of the air-cooled, single-cylinder Yamaha SR series. Part of the appeal must be the straightforward, no-frills nature of the SR’s design. For instance, the SR is kickstart-only, with no electric starter, and the downtubes of the high-strength steel frame serve as the engine’s oil reservoir and cooling system, eliminating the need for an external oil cooler. What’s more, these air-cooled singles were inspired by British design, giving them a classic style without the headaches of a vintage British machine.
Enter Yuya Ueda (@lambretta3104) of Osaka, Japan, who has owned this 1993 Yamaha SR400 for ten years, riding it since he was 20 years old. In fact, the process of customizing this bike led him to change his entire career, becoming a motorcycle mechanic:
“At that time, I was working as a beautician and several custom shops were around, but I began to think that I wanted to live as a mechanic. Four years have been passed since I re-started my career as a mechanic.”
When building the bike, Yuya had a definite philosophy in mind:
“Integration of classical with modern technology.”
The engine has been punched out to a healthy 534cc, with a Yoshimura camshaft, carburetor, and other goodies. Yuya fitted the front suspension from a Yamaha TZR 3MA, complete with a Sunstar disc and Brembo 4-pot caliper, and Ohlins rear suspension with an extended Beltlan swing arm. We especially love the gauge cluster — a DIY panel reminiscent of a vintage aircraft, with meters from Smiths, Daytona, and Lucas. Yuya is especially proud of the overall balance of the build:
“The total balance. The elegant design of the tank and fairing; the simple and beautiful meters; the mechanical vibes like an old piston engine fighter.”
Below, we get more details on this SR534 cafe racer — “Mary Jane” — from the builder himself.
Yamaha SR400 Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
First of all, I would like to express my passion for my SR. From my childhood, I always loved to design and envision artistic things, to create and build something by myself. I started to ride the SR400 and one day I realized I wanted to fully customize my beloved motorcycle, and my career switched from beautician to motorcycle mechanic.
I really love cafe racers and old racers — not only their appearance, but also their cultural background. When I work out the plan to build my motorcycle, I did not want to just copy the classic motorcycle. I had a basic concept that ” integration of classical with modern technology.”
I see many customized motorcycles that touch my heart, and I began to dream that I also wished create a motorcycle that would touch somebody’s heart.
In Japan, majority of the riders enjoy the motorcycle life without any customization. Some add modifications but they only change exhaust, blinker, and fenders which is not so heavy and hard. I wanted my motorcycle to affect people who ride with stock to think that customization is cool and also people who own custom motorcycles.
I am still half-fledged as a mechanic now, but I have a staunch life time goal to become a builder who leads the trend, passing the cafe racer culture on to posterity.
・Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
The engine tune was done by Beltlan. We’re located in the southern part of Osaka prefecture, but the most of the customization was DIY with support from my pals. I am 30 years old and I’ve been riding this SR since I was 20. At that time, I was working as a beautician and several custom shops were around, but I began to think that I wanted to live as a mechanic. Four years have been passed since I re-started my career as a mechanic.
・What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Yamaha SR400, 1993.
・Why was this bike built?
・What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Fusion of modern technology and performance with classical cafe racer style.
・What custom work was done to the bike?
Engine: 534cc / 500cc crank / Wiseco piston 90Φ / Yoshimura camshaft ST-1 / WPC treated
Ignition: AS Uotani SP2
Carburetor: Yoshimura TMR MJN 40Φ
Exhaust: Ducati Conti retrofitted and modified from 900SS Bevel
Exterior: Modified Peyton Place
Seat fairing: Chop the Peyton Place tank and seat integrated type fairing.
Paint: Grant Paint Works
Frame: Pearl painted
Front fork: Retrofitted from TZR 3MA
Triple tree: Retrofitted from TZR 3MA
Wheels: Excel H pattern
Rear suspension: Ohlins
Front caliper: Brembo 4pot
Brake disc: Sunstar 320mm
Rear sets: Brooklands
Headlight: Lucas lights with Cibie lens
Swing arm: Beltlan 3cm long
Meter and Gauges: DIY meter panel / Smiths tachometer / Daytona speed meter / Lucas ammeter / Smiths volt meter
・Does the bike have a nickname?
・How would you classify this bike?
Neo classic cafe racer.
・Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of ?
The total balance. The elegant design of the tank and fairing; the simple and beautiful meters; the mechanical vibes like an old piston engine fighter.
Follow the Builder @lambretta3104