Yamaha XJR1300 Cafe Racer, “The Widow Maker”

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Yamaha XJR1300 Cafe Racer

We’re thrilled to bring you this 2000 Yamaha XJR1300 cafe racer built by Jay Gwyer of Jarrow, UK.  Jay and his brother, Karl, are partners in a custom bike-building business called Old Skool Customs. Their workshop is located deep in Tyneside, a traditional home of heavy shipbuilding, and that engineering tradition shows in the quality of this build.


XJR1300 Cafe Racer

Not for Shrinking Violets:  The Widow Maker Build

We will let Jay tell you about the build in his own words.

The bike started life as a well cared for standard xjr1300, a bike I’d long had designs on building a homage to the beautifully simplistic cafe racers of the ’50s.

I tore her down and started cutting, fabricating, filling, priming and painting.

The biggest jobs were the front end swap out, I opted for a sporty USD fork set up taken from a fzr1000, with a bit of manipulation and ingenuity, it works great, I then removed them, machined the gold anodise off and polished the tubes to a mirror shine.

The seat was a stock GRP unit, which I sanded to shape and frenched in the rear stop / tail light. I manufactured an aluminum under seat support and worked hour after hour hiding the electrics to maintain a minimalistic look to its side profile.


The air box was a tricky job, very difficult to remove, and left lots of tabs on the frame in its wake, not compliant with the simple “see through” image I wanted, so the frame was detabbed, and prepped and painted.

The exhausts are r6 gp style, detabbed and polished. Lack of an air box and use of cone filters killed the engines smooth running, so a stage 3 K&N dynojet kit was installed into the carbs, now she sounds so damn good, pulls like a train and pops and bangs on deceleration. Not a bike for shrinking violets.


The bike it retro headlight and acewell digital speedo / tachometer completed the front end look, pretty straightforward to fit and get to do what you need it to do.

Braided brake lines were added to the updated fzr calipers. And a re manufactured gpz500 front mudguard was added.

The 1970’s paintjob finished up the look, and discreet bar end and frame end indicators were added.

Yamaha r6 rearsets were machined to suit and were a real labour of love (nightmare) to get to work.

The horns were hidden using bespoke brackets.

Everything alloy on the bike has been hand polished, and the alloy fuel flap was stripped and given a brushed sand effect.

The project represents about 400 hours labour, and I’ve loved every second.

The bike is apparently for sale in the UK, and you can find the contact information for Jay and his brother here.


Questions for the builder? Comments, feedback? Hit the comments section below!

XJR1300 Streetfighters and Cafes

The Yamaha XJR1200 was first introduced in 1995, an air-cooled bruiser that’s been given subtle updates over its 20-year evolution. The motor was punched out to 1251 cc in 1999, making the bike the XJR1300, and it gained EU-3 compliant fuel injection in 2007. The current incarnation boasts 98 horsepower and 80 pound-feet of torque. Unfortunately, it’s never been offered stateside.

This muscle-bike has been in the news of late with the 2015 refresh, which includes the introduction of the XJR1300 Racer–a cafe-inspired version that comes from the factory with clip-ons, flyscreen, and various carbon fiber bits. This “factory cafe” is largely the result of Yamaha’s Yard-Built Program, which has resulted in a wealth of XJR1300 customs by well-known shops:


  1. Juriaan hiddink

    I have also a Yamaha xjr 1300 (2001), my quistion is which back Fender dit they use?
    Alsof i’m looking for an fender that is behind the tyer?
    Please let me know

  2. Hi
    how do I find at backfender and seat simular to yours?


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