A JDM-inspired Virago from Portland…
Introduced in 1981, the Yamaha XV750 Virago was the company’s first foray into the market for V-twin cruisers, featuring mono-shock rear suspension, shaft-drive, and an air-cooled 75° V-twin producing 55 horsepower. While the bike was enough of a threat to the two-wheeled status quo that Harley-Davidson pushed for a 1983 tariff on 750+cc imported motorcycles, it’s safe to assume that no one reckoned the Virago would be resurrected 40 years later in the hands of custom builders like Sean Hogan of Portland’s de stijl moto.
“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.”
Fast forward one year, and Sean brought a new Virago 750 custom to last weekend’s 2020 edition of The One Motorcycle Show — and what a build it is. Based on a 1982 XV750, the bike was built for his long-time friend Tommy Patterson:
“We grew up skateboarding together in Southern California. Every year we do our best to get together a few days and meet in some major city where we like to explore and skate all the spots we used to see in videos as kids, that is if they still exist.”
Last year, after seeing Sean’s previous Virago build in person, Tommy decided to commission a build branded for his Sacramento-based digital marketing firm, WKND Digital, inspired by 90s Japanese import culture:
“We grew up building Hondas and street racing in Southern California and wanted to create something that had some nostalgia from our youth.”
The level of detail on the build is exceptional, with the entire bike wired inside the frame, a modified trellis swingarm, one-off rearsets and exhaust, several JDM-inspired touches, and much, much more. Below, we get the full details on the build from Sean himself. Many thanks to our show photographer Eddie Del Valle (@bearded_r0b0t) for the above photos. The rest of the shots are from Sean himself.
JDM-Inspired Virago 750: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Sean Hogan, I am the designer, builder, fabricator, engineer, receptionist, and janitor at de stijl moto in Portland, Oregon. de stijl moto started and continues to be an endeavor purely based on passion and the desire to learn and create. I started building bikes in 2017 in my basement and have been obsessed with the process ever since. My current workspace resides in my salon expansion space that I’m currently building out as well — we had some issues with city planning and had to put some things on hold. I will say it’s been amazing to have 2400 sqft of high ceilings and beautiful light to build bikes in. I have a garage space attached that I will move into once the business is able to open.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
This bike is a 1982 Yamaha XV750 (Virago).
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built for a dear friend of over 25 years. We grew up skateboarding together in Southern California. Every year we do our best to get together a few days and meet in some major city where we like to explore and skate all the spots we used to see in videos as kids, that is if they still exist. Last year we went up to Seattle for our trip. He flew to Portland and after seeing the bike I had built for the 2019 1 moto show he decided he wanted one for himself, branded for his digital marketing firm WKND Digital based out of Sacremento, CA. I was like “fuck yeah let’s build you a bike!”
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design concept was to build a bike that was a nod to 90’s Japanese imports. We grew up building Hondas and street racing in Southern California and wanted to create something that had some nostalgia from our youth but also reflected the evolution of taste level. So for anyone that was curious about the Toyo tire decals and Recaro seat hopefully this helps.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
I wanted everything on this bike to get some love, the only original parts on this bike are the frame, engine, one wheel, and half a swing arm. And even those have been altered.
The bike has a custom subframe with integrated tail light, ’08 R1 front forks and wheel with ’01 R1 lower triple clamp and Cognito Moto top triple. Rear suspension is ’03 R6 held in with de stijl moto shock adapter. I made a trellised swing arm that holds a gen-2 Virago rear wheel. This allows the bike to run a wider rear tire.
I rebuilt the engine, ceramic coated. I used a single carb intake manifold from Virago Performance that runs a Mikuni tm40 — this was designed to create aesthetic continuity with ’90s JDM, having the air filtration attached directly to the carb opened up tons of space in the frame that would normally be the airbox.
I shaved the carb breather tubes and intake boot mounting points and wired the entire bike inside the frame. I used the intake boot holes to mount stainless momentary switches on carbon fiber covers to run some functions on the bike, having all the wiring run through the frame allowed me to use a Purpose Built Moto headlight bezel (which has no bucket) and projector headlight with integrated signals held in place with de stijl moto articulating headlight brackets.
Lights are controlled by motogadget mini switches, electronics are controlled by motogadget m unit blue that gets power from an Antigravity 12 cell lithium ion battery. The de stijl moto stainless under mount battery box holds the battery along with regulator rectifier and starter solenoid from Revival Cycles, Koso tach / Speedo with shift light is held flush with the top triple with a stainless laser cut bezel.
I made one-off rearset mounts to replace the factory subframe struts typically used to mount rearsets. The rearsets themselves are also one-offs, –the foot control setups were cut from stainless by Send Cut Send in Reno. Exhaust is a one-off I made with piecuts with carbon fiber silencers under the subframe.
The tank paint was executed beautifully by Lorin Holmes at PDX Paint Works here in Portland, and the seat was upholstered in leather and suede by the amazing and talented Roxan Jane from Range Needlework located in Portland as well. I probably forgot some details but I’ve gone on long enough.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
“The Bird Watcher” — I’m just kidding. Inside joke.
I’ve been calling it the WKND Studios bike.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
The bike is a blast, it was made to be fun to look at and fun to ride.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I pushed myself during the fabrication and design process, I wanted to try things I had never done or never tried, which led to making almost every part.
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