The Virago was Yamaha’s first series of V-twin machines, and the XV1100 was the king cruiser of the line, featuring a 62-hp engine and some of the best handling and brakes in all of cruiser city:
“Sport-bike riders who sight along their noses at the Virago might be surprised at how well it works on unfamiliar two-lanes. The Virago has no intention of sucking headlights from GSXRs, but it’s no pooch either.” –Cycle, 1989
Enter Ludo and Clarisse, the partners behind London’s LV Custom, whose motto is:
“Impressive things are made of small details.”
Previously, we featured their CX500 cafe racer and Fazer streetfighter. Since then, they’ve expanded and rebranded their shop, adding new team members like a professional welder. Now the LV crew is back with a Virago 1100 cafe racer built for Tiago Silva, a Brazilian fitness coach who’s been passionate about bikes since boyhood, when his father bought him a 50cc dirt bike. For Ludo and the LV team, the client’s personality is a critical factor in the build:
“When doing a build, there are some technical details to consider…but it’s also an emotional thing. We want them to own their bike and feel proud — it needs to feel more than satisfying, it needs to be THE ONE.”
Tiago and Ludo worked closely, combining their visions to finalize the design. Tiago brought some parts to the table, including the Speed Triple forks and Royal Enfield tank, and the only parts of the bike not customized were the engine and swingarm. Ludo, who has a wealth of experience in body and paintwork, always excels in these areas — we particularly love the handmade steel seat unit and paint scheme. The result is, quite literally, a dream come true for Tiago:
“This bike was a dream for him and we made it come true. During the build he came to us one day, ‘Guys, last night I dreamed of the paint, I know what I want, it was beautiful.'”
Below, we get the full story on this Virago XV1100 neo cafe racer, nicknamed “Iron Man.”
Virago 1100 Cafe Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
This is the motto of LV Custom, a workshop founded in southwest London by partners Ludo and Clarisse. Ludo, who is from the south of France, studied bodywork and paintwork for four years and completed a year-long painting certification before opening his first shop 12 years ago in France. However, when Clarisse was offered a job in London, the couple decided to move across the pond…
Step by step we built up this company, rebranded and expanded a year ago, some amazing people joined our team like a professional welder able to weld any kind of metal. I am very proud of the team, they are working consistently to provides high standard services to our bikers.
As we continue to grow, we are committed to make our client dream motorbike happen using not only innovative but also old school techniques topped up with our own style and vision.
Our ethos is…
“Impressive is made of small details” — and our bikes are all about it.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Yamaha Virago XV1100, 1991.
Why was this bike built?
The bike was built for Tiago, a cool dude and fitness coach in this 30s, passionate about bikes since he was 10 years old. Back in Brazil, his dad gave him a mini 50cc dirt bike.
I mention him and his personality as it is a crucial factor when building a bike for someone. When doing a build, there are some technical details to consider — the bike has to suit the client and his needs — but it’s also an emotional thing. We want them to own their bike and feel proud — it needs to feel more than satisfying, it needs to be THE ONE.
At LV, wove the fact we actually have the possibility to make one’s dream happen.
Tiago had a dream, he could visualize the design how he wanted the bike to look. He’d had a Virago before, which he found very reliable and developed a good relationship with the model. That’s how he ended up traveling 250 miles away from London to buy it for less than £1000.
He had his own idea about some parts he wanted, like Triumph Street Triple forks and front wheel and a Royal Enfield Continental GT tank. So Ludo added his vision to Tiago’s, and after a few months of patience and hard work, this Virago XV1100 cafe racer was born.
“Ludo from LV Custom added a lot of design ideas and accessories, complementing my vision — I couldn’t be happier with the final result.” -Tiago Silva, 1Rebel Master Trainer, Personal Trainer, Consultant
What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Ludo likes neo vintage looks. His vision was to create an old-school bike with modern details such as the Motogadget speedo and CNC switches. Visualizing the bike, he could only go for a cafe racer with our signature seat unit, handmade of steel with a clean finish.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Only two things haven’t been touched: Swing arm and engine.
The bike has been stripped down.
- Tank: the original tank has been switched for Royal Enfield tank.
- Removed the fuel pump and added a gravity fuel tap.
- We modified the frame to fit the tank.
- We worked to raise up the rear frame about 100mm, to create a straight line with the tank.
- Removed the battery box.
- Fitted a ballistic battery and a custom-made seat unit.
- We extended and modified the fork
- The top yoke has been adjusted to fit the speedo
- We modified the frame to fit the rear set instead of the original forward footpeg, and so we had to modify brake and gear linkage.
- The exhaust has been modified to fit this fat rear tyre.
- Alloy front and rear mudguard and stainless steel front bracket.
- Handmade bespoke plate holder.
- The seat unit is a special one, it’s our signature: handmade of steel.
- Bespoke seat.
- Quick release bolts to get easy access to the battery.
- We have redone the entire electric loom.
- Fitted a bates style headlight.
- Gauge: digital speedo.
- CR aluminium switches.
- Motogadget M-lock.
- Mirrors with integrated LED indicator.
- The rear indicators do also brake light and side light all in one. KOSO.
- We added an Axel boost electronic box to manage the electricity.
- Gloss black and textured black paint.
- Textured black: Wheels, engine cover, forks yokes
- Rear Mudguard: Pearl and solid black, gold leaf patina stripes.
Does the bike have a nickname?
Tiago named it “Iron Man.”
“The name came after looking down on teh bike from the top. In my view, it looks like the Iron Man helmet.” -Tiago
Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
“The bike rides so well. I never felt a situation where the bike did anything unexpected or felt less capable than I did. It has the perfect height and distance from the handlebars to the seat for me. I can ride it all day. It’s easy to maneuver in parking lots and through narrow gaps in traffic.” -Tiago
Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
On this Virago model, we are very happy we could achieve that profile — this visual line proper to the cafe racer, as it is quite rare to see. People usually choose the mono shock version as there is less work involved on the frame.
Follow the Builder / Owner
Build and design: LV Custom: www.lvcustom.co.uk | @lvcustom.london
Seat Cover: @Viking_motorcycle_seat
Digital speedo, etc: www.digital-speedos.co.uk
Bike owner: @t.silva_fitness