Francesco Paura and friends transform a V-Twin Bulldog…
In 2001, Yamaha introduced the BT1100 Bulldog, a naked V-twin designed and produced in Italy. Italian style and Japanese build quality is one solid combination, and the Bulldog was like little else on the road — “a relaxing, better-braked alternative to a cruiser” (MCN).
While the Bulldog failed to impress much of the motoring press (who spent their time comparing the bike to more sport-oriented rivals like the Ducati Monster), the big BT has earned a cult following of riders and owners in the years since its release.
“The Yamaha Bulldog is a bloody good motorbike. There, I’ve said it. This may not be a popular opinion to hold, and certainly among our esteemed colleagues in the press it is far from fashionable, but it’s no less true for that.” -Simon Bradley, Motorbikes Today
Recently we heard from our friend Francesco Paura, a well-known Italian designer and rapper who customized his personal CB500 several years ago, working with his friend Angelo Caliendo of Low Special Parts — a customizer with 20+ years of experience. Francesco’s first build was such a hit that it kick-started a design and customization partnership that’s going strong to this day:
“Since then I have transformed nearly 30 motorcycles in 6 years.”
Last month we featured Francesco’s Yamaha MT-01 “Cookie Monster” — now he’s back with another V-twin Yamaha, this time a BT1100. The bike was built for a customer who lives in Terramaggiore, a beautiful town located in the coastal region of Puglia (Apulia) — the heel and spur of the Italian boot.
“We wanted to create something elegant but aggressive, totally changing the shape of the bike, which originally had a very high tank — muscular but with too pronounced a hump.”
The standard BT1100 has a very pronounced tank hump indeed — one that recalls an American bison or muskox. What’s more, the unique twin-backbone steel frame meant that no other tank would fit, so Francesco and Angelo “profoundly” modified an old Yamaha tank to match the chassis lines and design they had in mind — quite the challenge. Fortunately, Angelo was up to the task. Says Francesco:
“My partner is very good, and a magician in our body shop.”
Other highlights include a set of Yamaha R6 forks, Motogadget instruments, a custom 2:1 exhaust fabricated by Fabio Zoppo, a custom rear subframe with electrical compartment, and a custom saddle that Francesco designed and sewed himself. Francesco has dubbed this transformed Bulldog the “Bull Terrier”:
“A more spirited and lively dog than the Bulldog, but with the same muscle.”
The owner is very pleased with the build, and he isn’t the only one — the “Bull Terrier” has made quite a splash among fellow BT1100 owners:
“I published the photos on a page of Bulldog enthusiasts and almost everyone wrote to me that it is the most aesthetically beautiful Bulldog they have seen. So I take this opportunity to thank them for their kind words, which gave us a lot of satisfaction.”
Below, we talk to Francesco for the full story on this BT1100 Bull Terrier.
Yamaha BT1100 Custom: Builder Interview
(Translated from the Italian by BikeBound.)
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
It’s a 2001 Yamaha BT1100 Bulldog. An easy to use bike with a really nice-looking engine. The bike is now called Bull Terrier, because this species of dog is an evolution of the Bulldog — a cross between a Terrier and Bulldog. A more spirited and lively dog than the Bulldog, but with the same muscle.
• Why was this bike built?
The motorbike was built for a customer from Torremaggiore, a beautiful municipality in Puglia. This is his first bike, but he wanted something unique. I think he is satisfied with the result.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
We wanted to create something elegant but aggressive, totally changing the shape of the bike, which originally had a very high tank — muscular but with a too pronounced a hump.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The work was created together with my partner Angelo Low Caliendo. The tank was custom-made to fit the very unique chassis. No standard tank could adapt to it, so we created it, starting from the tank of another Yamaha model, but changing it profoundly.
We also created the rear part of the frame with a compartment for the electrical system. Mounted a fork from a Yamaha R6. We created the license plate holder and the saddle.
For the embroidery, I designed a pattern and sewed it with an embroidery pantograph. The exhaust has become a 2-into-1, thanks to my friend Fabio Zoppo. And then we mounted Motogadget instruments.
• Is there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Definitely the creation of the tank. My partner is very good, and a magician in our body shop. I’ll send you a photo of the process. We created protrusions to match the original bodies. It was not easy to obtain a pleasant result.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride the completed bike?
As a bike for gaining experience it is perfect. It’s not demanding. Low and with a V-twin sound. Riding it makes you feel cool.
• Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
I wanted to thank my team and the customer for choosing us. Furthermore, I published the photos on a page of Bulldog enthusiasts and almost everyone wrote to me that it is the most aesthetically beautiful Bulldog they have seen. So I take this opportunity to thank them for their kind words, which gave us a lot of satisfaction.