Extreme Scrambler: Yamaha WR450 from France…
Introduced in 2003, the Yamaha WR450F is essentially an enduro version of the company’s full-blown motocross racer, the YZ450F. As such, the WR offers a wide-ratio gearbox, headlight/taillight, electric starter, kickstand, skidplate, larger radiators, lower noise/emissions, and the 449cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine has been tuned for more tractable power delivery. The WR has been the winner of numerous 450 shootouts. Make no mistake, the WR450F is a true off-road weapon.
Enter the French workshop of Le Motographe, based in the south of France. The two-man team, composed of Jerome and Yvan, build bikes tailor-made for their clients, who never see the machine until it’s complete. Says Jerome:
“All our projects are a surprise for the customer, who never see the bike until it’s finished.”
What’s more, functionality and performance are of utmost importance to the guys at Le Motographe:
“Every one of our bikes is made to ride, we never build ‘show bikes’ because for us a bike has to be efficient and useful.”
This build was commissioned by an American customer, who requested an off-road bike that was also street-legal. Off-road, few bikes are as functional as the WR450F. Jerome and Yvan designed and built a tough exoskeleton for the bike, while shedding some 22 pounds from the original WR and boosting output some 5 horsepower through a custom airbox and full custom exhaust system. The shocks have been specially prepared for the rider’s weight and riding needs, and lovely handmade details abound throughout the build.
While the bike doesn’t have an official nickname, the duo tend to call the bike this 450 V1 enduro “skeleton.” They’re hard at work on a supermoto version, which will be on display at The Bike Shed London 2019! Below, we get the full story on this custom enduro!
Yamaha WR450 Custom: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Le Motographe is a French workshop based in Montpellier (south of France). We build iconic bikes only by order. That way, we can build bikes specially for one pilot based on his background and how that pilot wants to ride. Every one of our bikes is made to ride, we never build “show bikes” because for us a bike has to be efficient and useful.
The team is composed of Jerome (Professional product designer and passionate about bikes since childhood) and Yvan (professional welder and metal shaper — passionate about bike since childhood too). We also build many parts on our own to sell them as custom parts — specifically full exhaust systems, mufflers, aluminium fenders, pegs, etc.
All our projects are a surprise for the customer, who never see the bike until it’s finished. They have to trust our ability to build a bike even better than what they expect. We always have a long discussion about the bike before starting and then let’s go.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The base of this project is a 2004 Yamaha WR450F.
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built for an American client living in LA.
But the supermoto version we just finished is for company promotion and track racing. (This one will be presented at The Bike Shed London in May.)
We will build another for flat track and some races with it, like at the Wheels and Waves event in France or whatever. To show that our bikes are really made to ride hard.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The customer just asked us to build him an offroad and street legal bike and that’s it. That’s why we choose an efficient enduro base. The point of this project is simple: build an iconic bike like nobody has ever seen, but which is more efficient than before. So we created that tough handmade frame, which could be set on any WR450F from those years as an « extreme full kit ».
The bike is 10kg lighter than before and 5 horsepower more thanks to the new handmade airbox with K&N performance air filter and our full handmade exhaust which is larger than the original one so the bike can breathe.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
We just kept the original engine and a part of the frame to keep it legal on the road, then we created an additional frame which supports a handmade gas tank, airbox, exhaust, mufflers, headlight, and a red leather seat. Shocks are prepared specially for the rider and enduro use.
We also put a lithium battery and a lot of part are engraved with the name of the pilot, with our brand Le Motographe and the Yamaha logo.
We also engraved “the sound and the fury” on the exhaust and all the regular inspection and instructions recommended by Yamaha directly on the gas tank, just under the seat. That way, it’s easy to take care of that bike as it should be.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
That bike doesn’t really have a nickname. This is the 450 V1 enduro, we could call it “skeleton” I guess. So the supermoto will be the “skeleton V2” 😉
• How would you classify this bike?
I think the bike isn’t in any of those categories, because nobody customizes real efficient enduro bikes. But it could be like an “extreme scrambler” with real off-road capacities: 108kg with all fluids in (gas, oil and water) and 55hp at the rear wheel.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Probably the whole project. The design is made to be insane and efficient at the same time. All the welds are really clean and well done and all the parts are unique. The materials are very good quality and the sound is like a beast. I think we are proud of the concept, which brings a new vision to custom bikes.