Speedtractor of Tokyo is one of our very favorite custom builders in the world. They’re motto is “dirty good fun,” and each of their builds is a vehicle for just that. The shop got its start several years ago, when some friends were worried that motorcycling was losing its soul. They were tired of waiting for the big manufacturers to build bikes that stirred their spirit, so they decided to build their own. Speedtractor bikes never fail to inspire. As they say…
Our motorcycles are never the fastest and rarely the latest but will always leave you wearing the biggest grin.
Yamaha SRV250: “Thou Wolf in Sheep’s Array”
This Yamaha SRV250, nicknamed “Odd Job,” certainly looks the grin machine. The SRV250 is not a bike that’s particularly well-known. In fact, Luck and Wild has a great post entitled “What the Hell is a Yamaha SRV250?” In fact, the bike was produced from 1992-1996 as a “Retro Theme Bike” — a throwback to the cafe racers of old. The bike has a frame reminiscent of old Nortons and Triumphs, and yet it’s packing a V-twin. Yes, this is the motor from the XV250 Virago, but fortified with dual carbs and a different camshaft profile, resulting in an output of 27 horsepower — six up from the Virago. That might not sound like much, but given that the stock machine weighs only 308 pounds, the SRV250 quickly became known — to quote The Bard — as a “wolf in sheep’s array.”
“Odd Job” SRV250 Cafe Bobber: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by Matthew Roberts of Speedtractor. Highlights by us.)
A ruggedized Cafe Racer, or a Hot Rodded Bobber, or perhaps a Scrambled Cafe, whatever the hell you want to call it, it had to be one mean little ride just as of capable of ripping up the streets of Tokyo as the mountains beyond.
Starting point was Yamaha’s pint-sized V Twin SRV250, which won us over 20 years ago with its sleek castings, punchy low-end delivery and sweet handing. It’s the frame, however, that is the double edged sword, bringing many best laid custom plans to a screaming halt with its Manx-esque double loop and high steering head. For all its handling bliss comes with a bucket load of “considerations” for those on the road to re-design.
Not wanting to accidentally rid the machine of its main virtues, our approach was to settle for a drastically cropped rear sub-frame braced at the shock mounts. Battery, Uni filter pods on air intake funnels (to maintain a little intake air velocity) and bespoke fuel cell all now happily live under the one-off carbon, S-glass and epoxy composite body, giving the bike totally revised proportions and longer, lower lines. To further keep the cockpit as simple as possible, a mini speedometer with warning lights was set into the top of the body, visually mirroring the fuel cell’s machined alloy filler cap, while leaving the top triple clamp clear.
We had initially cleared out the under seat area, though that much negative space just left the motor feeling far too diminutive. Our solution was to fab up a set of one-off alloy side covers, polished to a satin finish that visually work as a continuation of the engine mechanicals.
The engine itself was simply treated to a top end freshen up, clutch internals, and far too many further hours of polishing to bring it up to better than factory performance and finish. Oh and those drag style, high-low twin pipes, yes well…ahem….two pots, two pipes, why the hell not!!
(Yes dear readers, this was one of those rare builds that when practicality came knockin’ we told it to tell its story walking — notice also the lack of guards.)
The tuned length headers match the OEM spec and terminate in staggered reverse cone megaphones for a somewhat throaty exhaust note. Part of Yamaha’s secret in developing such a lovable V-twin was their efforts in exhaust header length tuning and the twin carbs intakes for the best low and mid range, so we made sure not to cock these elements up.
The steering head height is a bit of a killer on these machines. Looking to keep a congruous line from tip through stumpy tail, a one-off headlight shell that transitions seamlessly into a mini fairing as a single unit helped smooth out the Yamaha’s notoriously high riding triple clamps. Top triple was machined, welded and smoothed and clip-ons fitted, though their placement still makes for an all-day ride friendly seating position. Brakes were overhauled, braided lines and a more compact master cylinder made friends with the alloy clip-ons.
Wheels are first series SRV hubs overhauled and laced to slightly wider than standard alloy rims. We were pushing for some meaty road Bridgestone tyres, but for some reason conversations ensued based around a more apocalyptic vibe. We couldn’t bring ourselves to run full-on block tyres as requested, but as we’d already left practicality at the door, the compromise ended at rubber being Pirelli Scorpion, giving the little bruiser a bit of a rough and tumble look but without sacrificing road manners too much.
Front forks were overhauled and internals revised for a slightly firmer ride and are accompanied by a set of Ohlins twin shocks at the rear. Perhaps overkill, but this previously mentioned lover affair stemmed two decades earlier from the SRV’s totally planted ride. Even in standard trim these machines eat up corners better than motorcycles twice their capacity, so we though, what the hell, we may as well go to town on it.
The ride position belies the slightly extreme appearance and is strangely all day comfortable as the rear-set foot controls move the riders feet back under the hips and lean the body forward for the medium reach to the bars.
Rounding out the ensemble is a striking lick of paint and colour matched diamond stitched Alcantara seat with a neatly frenched in tail light. Indicator lights are somewhat experimental with T3 LEDs grafted into the main headlight reflector and LEDs in the bolt heads of the number plate, (not fitted for the photoshoot). The plate doubles as a minimal rear guard similar to many Speedtractor builds.
All in all nothing too serious, just a fun, rideable and affordable foray into bespoke motorcycles. And the name? Odd Job? well every villain needs a henchman to help execute their fiendish plots… and we figure this little SRV is just about as bang on for that role as you could get.
Special thanks to:
- Higashiyama-san for helping with the polishing marathon
- Miauchi-san for his seat stitching A-game
- Nakata-san for getting that deep red just right
- Daria P for commissioning the build and bringing tickets to this crazy train.