Benjie's Cafe Racer:
- " Earlier this year, we were commissioned by a local Yamaha dealer to do custom work on their Yamaha SR400. On the way to the meeting to discuss the logistics of the Yamaha SR400 rebuild, i got stuck in morning rush hour traffic in my pickup truck. The benefit of being in stand-still traffic is that it is fertile territory for creative thinking. For example: “how cool it would be to build a bike that’s narrow enough to go between the cars during rush hour traffic?” Who would have thought something creative could come out of all that noise, congestion and pollution?
When it was time to build the bike, one of our goals was to make it as narrow as we could and with all the calibrations we were able to trim down the 2016 Yamaha SR400 EFI to 54 centimeters. Hence, the name, “Lane Splitter 54”.
For most builds, we would usually start with the gas tank, but with this project we started with the subframe. We wanted the bike to be light and open, and to minimize the use of body panels. The stock tail and seat frame were too wide for what we had in mind, and the lines of the frame made the bike looked too bulky. After taking the bike apart, we cut off the tail frame, and fabricated a triangular subassembly. We raised the bottom support as high as possible so that the rear wheel would be noticeably exposed, architecting a vision of simplicity and weightlessness. We constructed the subassembly from of stainless steel and bolted it to the main frame. After completing the subframe, we moved on to the gas tank.
We decided to employ aluminum in the gas tank construction and chose to utilize a teardrop shaped silhouette in order to capture the essence of the stock version of the Yamaha SR400 tank. We reused the stock petcock, mounted the tachometer center to the tank, and custom-machined a gas cap, mounting it on the upper right side of the tank.
We designed the shape of the seat to match the tail part of the tank, added a teardrop shaped tail light, wrapped the seat with black distressed cowhide leather, and added a cut out on the right side of the exhaust tip. The scalloped shaped front fairing is constructed of aluminum and is mounted directly to the frame.
In order to dress up the front end of the bike, we fabricated stainless fork shrouds, chose wrap-around low style handle bars, and added an old-school steering damper. We custom fabricated hand controls and an internal cable throttle. Finally, to capture an art deco look, we made the front brake disc cover out of aluminum, adding air vents to provide aesthetic detail.
The foot pegs and controls are made of stainless and aluminum. The bike’s teardrop shape conveys a sense of speed even at standstill, so it was used in the design of the velo stack and exhaust tip.
This project was an exciting artistic challenge. We were given the opportunity to work with the Yamaha SR400, which in our opinion is the best foundation to use for customization. There were a variety of design paths to pursue, from which we had to choose only one. Our final decision was to use the bike’s teardrop silhouette to inspire the downstream design decisions chosen for the subcomponents. Several other design paths were equally inspiring and worthy of pursuit. Perhaps one day, we will have the opportunity to pursue those other options. "
- Benjie's Cafe Racer
- Photos by: Ben Chan www.blacksheepmanila.com and Dante Dizon www.13luckymonkey.com