Bike Crush: Yamaha XJR 1300


Does the muscle bike from Yamaha trump custom builders?

Ok, so we know the mainstream bike industry have been co-opting the custom scene for years now.

Our Gary Inman, valued contrib, Sideburn supremo and Dirt Quake impresario, pointed out as much in our recent feature thread on the custom bike scene. For years garage builders have been the defacto R&D departments of the mainstream manufacturers. These guys know what the people want. They know how to deliver it. 

But we think Yamaha have completely trumped the vast majority of the garage-builders out there with their muscular new XJR 1300.

Just look at it.


Seems to us that so much of the look and the feel of what custom builders have been trying to achieve is right there, crystallised in a brand new machine that comes in at around eight grand. It’s not particularly innovative. But with its simple, stripped down aesthetic it evokes the high end of the muscle bike era. There’s even the ‘racer’ version (below), which comes, for an extra grand, with loads of extra tweaks like that bikini fairing, clip-ons, rear seat cowl etc.


When you look at the prices being charged for ground-up custom builds, the asymmetrical economics of the mainstream versus garage built scene becomes clear.

Fact is that if you like Cafe Racers you can get a brand new Triumph Thruxton for around eight grand. If you like the flat track look you can get a Guzzi V7 – or even that highly-controversial Ducati ‘Scrambler’ for the same. If you like muscle bikes there’s the Yamaha, the Honda CB retro model and a whole plethora of other issues from the mainstream.

All you’d have to do with these new bikes is take a few bits off them to make them really look the part.

I know we may be missing the point, and that the whole point of building a bike from the ground up is to have a totally unique machine that is a one off, lovingly crafted etc. etc.

But how many people can actually afford this stuff? And does it make you any less a motorcyclist if you plump for an off-the-peg machine that looks at least as good as anything you see round the back of the Bike Shed?

You decide.