Virago 920 “YamaDuci” by Augment Motorworks

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

A Japanese-Italian love story…

The Virago series was Yamaha’s first entrée into world of V-twin cruisers, and one of the first motorcycle mass-produced with a monoshock rear suspension. It was a bold move for Yamaha in 1981 — one that worked. The XV920, better known as the Virago 920, played on the success of the 750 version, featuring a 920 cc air-cooled 75° V-twin, good for 65 bhp and a quarter mile time of 13.18 seconds — not bad for a big 80s V-twin.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

Enter Nicholas Acosta of Toronto’s Augment Motorworks, who’s in his second year of working on motorcycles alongside his father and a great community of talented friends who lend their expertise in paint, upholstery, wiring, and more. After a bad experience at another shop, the owner of this 1982 XV920 brought Nick the bike in disassembled condition, missing many parts, as well as the forks and swinger from a Ducati 1098. Says Nick:

“I decided to make it work with the parts I had available and create a cool street v-twin that was comfortable to ride, looked great, had an amazing suspension and brake upgrade, and handled well.”

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

The result is the “YamaDuci,” featuring the Showa forks, single-sided swingarm, rear mono-shock, and lightweight forged Marchesini wheels from the Ducati. The electronics were moved into the new subframe, the problematic starting system replaced, and the engine performance upgraded with Dynojet kit, a K&N filter, different sprocket ratios, and a 2-1 exhaust. Nick says the performance of the new machine is miles ahead of the original:

“Compared to the original 1982 XV920, it’s a completely different machine — the old one heavy and more of a cruiser, while this one is nimble, light, and a powerful mix of classic and modern.”

Below, we get the full story on this “YamaDuci,” complete with some stunning photos from Mark Luciani of Light and Gears (@lightandgears).

YamaDuci: In the Builder’s Words

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

Hi, my name is Nick Acosta, I am a young motorcycle builder located in Toronto, Canada, working out of my converted garage shop. All my life I have been very hands on and loved building things, and when I got older I fell in love with old cars and motorcycles, and was lucky enough to have an extremely supportive father who helps me out until today, along with some very talented friends who are great painters, electricians, and upholsterers. This is now my second year working on motorcycles, and absolutely love all the great people in the community I have met.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

The owner of the motorcycle came to me after a bad experience with a motorcycle shop, and had a completely disassembled original bike (with many missing parts), as well as a Ducati 1098 front and rear end, and an aftermarket Benelli gas tank. Since budget was limited and the front and rear end were great, I decided to make it work with the parts I had available and create a cool street v-twin that was comfortable to ride, looked great, had an amazing suspension and brake upgrade, and handled well.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

The most challenging parts of the build were finding replacements for all the missing parts from the original motorcycle, as well as figuring out how to mount the modern front and rear setups from the 1098. A completely new wiring harness was built for the machine, and all the electrics were fit in the new subframe that was built. As for the front and rear end, the best solution for mounting them was creating a new triple tree for the front forks from cnc’d aluminum that incorporated the original stem, and welding on two HUGE shock mounts for the rear monoshock, since the original Ducati 1098 setup was completely different.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

Finally, an extra pain that every Virago owner experiences is the starting mechanism — it really is the Achilles heel of these bikes. The starter motor, as well as the rest of the mechanism assembly, was completely replaced, and an extra ground cable was connected to the starter motor since the original design doesn’t give it the best grounding capabilities.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

The bike has MUCH better performance than the original. First off, the weight reduction is incredibly noticeable. With the light and modern Showa forks, aluminum single sided swingarm, and Marchesini wheels, a large amount of weight was cut, and the handling and braking capabilities greatly improved.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

Also, power-wise, the carbs were rebuilt with a Dynojet kit, a K&N Filter was fitted onto the bike, a changing of sprocket ratios, and a 2-1 exhaust was fabricated with a Cone muffler, giving it a lot more throttle response and a noticeable increase in torque.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

Compared to the original 1982 XV920, it’s a completely different machine, the old one heavy and more of a cruiser, while this one is nimble, light, and a powerful mix of classic and modern.

Yamaha Virago 920 Cafe Racer

Follow the Builder

Photograph by Mark Luciani / Light and Gears:

Mark Luciani
lightandgears.com
marklucianiphoto.com
Instagram: @lightandgears

3 Comments

  1. All I can say is brilliant design and beautiful execution.

  2. Don Thumler

    This Yamaha project encourages me. I bought an XV-920 new and it’s anxiously awaiting my artist inner self to emerge. 44,000 mi.es with one chain replacement. Will try to keep you posted about progress.

  3. Bike is great…I raced mine in bott races at Savannah ga Roebling Road track. Brilliant handling allowed. Like to exceed expectations.

    Kevin Schwartz. Put his xv920 on first row of ama bott races e at laguna seca… actually led the charge into turn 1.

    Yam tried flattrack racing with it…to do so they had to change rotation direction of engine…

    Good bike…fun to ride…starter system poorly engineered.

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