Rascal Motorcycles builds an XJ / FJ600 shop bike…
Introduced in 1984, the Yamaha XJ600 — sold in North America as the FJ600 — was a middleweight four-cylinder sports bike with a 72-bhp air-cooled engine. Though the bike didn’t garner nearly the same media attention as the two-stroke RZ350 or mighty FJ1100, the 600 four-stroke earned a sporting reputation in its own right:
“The 600 is all sport-bike, and easily revs to its 10,500-rpm redline in five of its six gears…. Just as important as engine performance is handling, and in that area the 600 gives away very little. At a claimed 415 pounds, the FJ600 is among the lightest of the sport middleweights, and its lack of excess poundage pays off in every corner.” –1984 review
Recently, we had the pleasure of featuring a Honda NX650 scrambler from Aleksandrs Svjatskis of Latvia’s Rascal Motorcycles — a young builder who quit his day job in 2021 to go full-time with his Riga-based workshop, building and working on bikes.
The bike you see here is a 1989 Yamaha XJ600 — a shop bike that took more than three years to complete, as customer builds are the main priority for Aleks. (Cue the old “cobbler has no shoes” quote.) Still, his vision from the start was clear:
“The main idea was to build a nice bike on a tight budget, to prove that it can be done with a little bit of imagination.”
Aleks cut down and lowered the original fairing for a sleeker look, and replaced the original rear section of the frame with a welded-in hoop, complete with an embedded LED taillight. A café-style hump houses the battery, CDI, and the rest of the electronics. Many of the components have been Cerakoted, and the bike is painted in a sleek Nardo gray.
Aleks says the bike is light, agile, and fun to ride — the perfect shop bike. As for the model in the photo shoot, there can be only one:
“The model with all the bikes is my wife, so we have a tradition, she’s the only model allowed 😀 :D”
Below, we talk to Aleks for the full details on this FJ/XJ600 café!
Yamaha FJ600 Café Racer: Builder Interview
• Why was this bike built?
This is a shop bike that was started more than 3 years ago, and as with your own builds, they are never a priority and take too much time to finalize.
The main idea was to build a nice bike on a tight budget, to prove that it can be done with a little bit of imagination. As this was the second XJ600 we built, we were already quite familiar with the model.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
It’s a classic cafe racer style bike.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Original front fairing was lowered and cut down for a sleeker look. Rear section of the frame cut and a hoop welded in, with a cafe racer style hump, which houses battery, CDI, and all other electrical stuff.
The brake caliper and rear shock is painted with Cerakote. Rear light LED strip cut into the frame, custom single seat, etc.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
The XJ600 is a really nice bike to ride, it’s light and agile. Really enjoying it!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Most difficult part was to get the front fairing fit, to have enough steering angle, and clear the brake/clutch levers.
The model with all the bikes is my wife, so we have a tradition, she’s the only model allowed 😀 😀