Right here’s a approach of reliving your mis-spent youth driving 350LC’s, with out the dealing with woes. John Nutting tries a contemporary conversion based mostly on a XSR900 triple. Phrases: John Nutting Pics: Gary Chapman
For many who delight within the sheer hedonism of racing round on a 350LC Yamaha however can’t now deal with the weedy dealing with, right here’s the antidote – a Velocity-Moto Yamaha XSR900 based mostly 900LC.
Designed by Surrey-based legend Quick Bikes contributor, racer and builder, Hag Hughes, the 900LC captures the look of the favored two-stroke twin, in contrast to most of the so-called ‘yard builds’ which might be well-liked in the present day. It’s based mostly on the XSR900, Yamaha’s retro-styled model of the three-cylinder MT-09, with a bodywork package that may both be fitted by the proprietor or specified when the bike is purchased new.
And I’ve to say that the model I attempted out, which included additional servings of favor and efficiency bling, was every thing that made the Elsie nice, and extra apart from, in a contemporary package deal.
For Hag, who’s been constructing tasty racers and track-day machines for a few years, the undertaking feels like a labour of affection, and mixed his present enterprise – referred to as Velocity-Moto.com – of providing trick bike elements together with his expertise of manufacturing graphics and signage for posters and buildings.
“We raced 350LCs within the ‘80s and have been actual hooligans,” says Hag, “however lately the bikes have their limitations.” So to regenerate the LC idea in a means that permits riders to relive the dream, he designed a brand new tail fairing and aspect panels in GRP for the XSR900 and utilized his expertise within the design and manufacturing of decals that seize the suitable look.
The physique package features a remodelled seat and rear lamp, a handlebar fairing and a carbon-fibre console that mimics the 350LC’s and accepts the XSR900’s single instrument. To my shock, the highest and aspect panels that enclose the gasoline tank are the unique aluminium styling gadgets, however as a result of the decals are so cleverly designed, the bigger measurement nonetheless appears like an LC’s tank, which is a design icon in its personal proper.
Additionally included is a Tom Tom satnav that nestles within the left-hand console, and is activated by a smartphone, and the vestigial entrance indicators.
Not having ridden the unmodified XSR900 I can’t judge its really feel, however the 900LC was for me nearly as well-balanced because it might be for something as much as banzai motorway blasts. The flat ’bar, cosy seat and footrests matched the cutaways within the tank’s aspect covers like a well-fitted go well with.
It captures the look and character of bikes from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s to perfection, with not one of the trendy development for the inescapable angular Alien, Mad Max or Transformer faces. Park the 900LC anyplace and on-lookers are delighted to see what’s a standard motorbike after which some.
The 900LC is so trustworthy to the fashion of the RD350LC that once I took the bike to Yamaha UK’s base in close by Woking, advertising supervisor Jeff Turner was gobsmacked.
“The XSR900LC has completely captured the appear and feel of the unique 1980 bike,” he stated. “The proportions and detailing of the elements actually work nicely to supply a machine that appears to have the identical look as an RD350LC. Very intelligent and an actual tribute to the long-lasting bikes it takes its inspiration from.”
Hag has been arranging for Yamaha sellers to promote the 900LC, enabling finance offers to be provided together with a manufacturing unit guarantee, the primary of which was Woking Yamaha. For present house owners of the XSR900, the physique package prices $2795 AUD at time of publishing, with $15600 for the paintwork.
Nevertheless it ought to be apparent that the deep blue 900LC pictured is a platform for extra than simply the physique package, with a variety of efficiency and dealing with goodies provided by Velocity-Moto.com.
The XSR900 it’s based mostly on is a advantageous machine, that includes a three-cylinder 847cc 12-valve engine that with a 120-degree crank and stability shaft is clean and refined, take a look at Pommie’s customized Kenny Roberts XSR right here and our XSR assessment right here. The engine comes with options like consumption ports with uneven geometry, ride-by-wire throttle management and a selection of driving modes that change the facility curve, together with traction management. The clutch has slip-and-assist, which is claimed to assist when altering down aggressively by way of the six-speed field and allows a lighter motion on the handlebar lever.
Launched in 2016, the XSR900 has a extra highly-specified chassis than the XSR700 twin, and contains a die-cast aluminium-alloy body and rear fork, and an inverted telescopic fork. Wheel sizes are what you’d anticipate, 17 inch cast-alloys entrance and rear, with twin entrance rotors and radial four-piston calipers utilizing ABS.
With peak energy of 115bhp at 10,000rpm on faucet, there’s greater than urge sufficient to maintain you busy as much as the sensible aerodynamic most of about 130km/h. In inventory trim, the XSR900 is geared for 240km/h, so on the 110km/h authorized restrict, the engine’s singing alongside at a relaxed 4700rpm.
Hag reckons that regardless of this modern specification inside the context of retro-styling, there’s a lot room for enchancment to the essential XSR900. Although the suspension was modified with revised damping in contrast with the MT-09, the XSR continues to be lush and lacks precision, and Euro4 necessities for emissions and noise end in a throttle response that’s uninteresting, notably on the backside finish of the vary.
Two choices are provided for uprating the suspension, from both Okay-Tech or Ohlins. The blue XSR900 proven got here with a Okay-Tech package, through which the internals of Yamaha’s the wrong way up telescopic fork are changed with new springs and a cartridge damper set-up that includes adjustability for preload, and damping, each compression and rebound. The rear suspension has a rising-rate linkage that’s unchanged however the single shock is changed by a Okay-Tech merchandise.
On the check bike this was the essential merchandise with preload and rebound-only damping adjustment, however a extra refined remote-reservoir model with full damping adjustment is on the market.
The Okay-Tech-fitted bike has a firmer and well-controlled journey and with out altering the geometry the steering could be very mild and responsive. Certainly, there’s a component of a racer in its really feel: nudge the flattish handlebar at velocity and there’s a touch of an incipient shimmy, so no marvel that there’s additionally an choice of a steering damper. I most popular the damper turned down, just because I appreciated the nervousness of the bike. In any case, that is simply the best way a 350LC felt, though that was as a result of the body was so flimsy.
I discussed the firmness of the suspension to Hag. He says it was arrange for his weight, which is about 7kg greater than me, so no shock there. So as to add a little bit of rider weight to the entrance and exploit the waspish proportions of the body behind the engine, extra trendy footrests have been fitted which are about 25mm additional again and tad larger. There’s room for this as a result of the swingarm pivots outdoors of the body, so you possibly can tuck your ft in simply.
The handlebar and hand controls stay inventory however the instrument console contained in the bikini fairing mimics the unique 350LC clocks nicely. Above and between them are a set of lights that flash up because the engine purple is reached.
With out having direct expertise of the inventory bike’s efficiency, I can’t touch upon how a lot better are Hag’s modifications, which embrace an Akrapovic three-into-one exhaust system and a reflash of the ECU, which allows previously-tested injection and ignition curves to be put in by means of a laptop computer.
I can say that the exhaust notice is, properly, fruity with a basal drone that’s assured to alert the neighbours in not simply early-morning begins, and can please those that reckon that a louder-than-stock motorbike offers a security margin in visitors.
The efficiency tweak actually does give the XSR900 an enormous quantity of response at decrease revs with no uncertainty from a closed twistgrip, a lot in order that I used to be pleased to tug larger gears more often than not. This isn’t troubling to the transmission as a result of the motor is so clean anyway. Curious as I used to be to seek out out what the top-end efficiency was like I gave it a go on a clear part of quiet blacktop.
It’s straightforward to be cruising a motorway, and discover after a brief overtaking squirt that three-figure speeds are not any various seconds of acceleration away. On nation roads that’s magnified by a number of orders, and the higher suspension is an actual boon to get you out of potential hassle.
I’d figured that the gearing had been lowered to provide higher acceleration however inspection of the alternative Talon rear-wheel sprocket confirmed it have the identical 45 tooth because the inventory machine.
To get a measure of the effectiveness of the reflashed ECU, Hag took the bike to be examined on the dynamometer operated by PDQ in Taplow in Buckinghamshire. With the inventory exhaust system peak energy was as much as 119hp, he stated, with virtually 125bhp with the Akrapovic.
Cosmetically, the genuine design fashion of the 350LC is greatest reproduced by the matt black of the XSR900’s body and fittings. However I needed to just like the remedy of the light-alloy, which earlier than meeting had been reduce to the metallic and polished to inside an inch of its life, adopted by (I hope) some clear lacquer.
Different extra delicate gadgets included the matching colors of the wheels and the vestigial flip singles.
I used to be stunned by Hag’s tackle the 350LC in a contemporary reincarnation. I’d seen it first in a newspaper and turned up my nostril, however within the flesh, and higher nonetheless after driving the bike I might see the attraction of styling a contemporary machine like these we’d loved 30 or 40 years in the past. Nothing flawed with that, notably as a result of the 900LC works so nicely, and is a sensible machine to make use of, although I’d choose a much less raucous sound.
However in case you like the thought authentically reliving the hooligan driving days of your misspent youth, the 900LC is able to serving it up in dollops.
Who’s Hag Hughes?
Hag spent his youth driving freestyle BMX however when it got here to getting a motor in his two-wheeler his people have been lifeless towards it. As his household had a number of bob, when Hag saved up for a motocrosser, dad relented and constructed his personal monitor for Hughes junior within the backyard, offered he by no means rode on the street.
Hag recollects, “Factor was, I grew bored and needed the push and freedom that a street bike would give me. Secretly I started saving as soon as extra, this time culminating in a Suzuki X7 racer. As soon as at house and safely within the storage (a spot the place my dad would by no means enterprise) I set about making it street authorized. On went a Mead-Velocity duplicate RG500 fairing and seat and a pair of Mel-Lemoto rearsets, good for creating my first particular, even when I wasn’t truly sufficiently old to journey it on the street but!”
Being (too) younger and silly, Hag started to journey on the street – and commenced to get some unwelcome consideration. “The police pulled me because it had a bicycle rear mild and a banshee-like tone from the dual Micron exhausts. I made a decision to make my escape, however discovered myself down on the station as an alternative of off into the space. I went to courtroom and located myself banned even earlier than I’d obtained my licence, however that early X7 had given me the bug for modification.”
Ultimately dad would discover out concerning the bike and after an enormous household row, Hughes junior would go and stay with brothers Jason and Sean Emmett – each have been going to have huge race careers and turn into (with Hag) half and parcel of Quick Bikes journal [I still have every issue – Ed].
Hag – in addition to the Emmetts – would race and write for FB, however it was Hag’s specials and superb paint work that he was recognized for. Various bikes made it into Quick Bikes’ pages and Crossbow calendars, together with the legendary Harribox with FZR1000 motor and ‘The B*stard’, which was a mixture of RC30 rear finish, OW-01 body, FZR1000 motor and Yamaha/Ohlins front-end. Hag was additionally one of many first guys to mate the robust ZX-9R motor into the better-handling ZXR750 chassis.
Hag has had time as a self-help guru (he educated beneath Paul McKenna) and an writer, however we’re additionally glad he’s again into the bikes in an enormous method. Legend!
Moto Velocity Yamaha XSR900 based mostly 900LC
Claimed inventory energy: 84.6kw[115hp]@10,000rpm
As examined energy: 125bhp
Claimed inventory torque: 87.5Nm [63lb-ft]@8500rpm
Claimed inventory weight: 195kg with 14L gasoline
Gasoline capability: 14L
Engine: 847cc liquid-cooled inline three-cylinder four-stroke, 78 x 59.1mm bore x stroke, 31mm IN and 25mm EX valves, 11.5:1 compression, Akrapovic three-into-one exhaust
Gearbox: Six velocity, fixed mesh
Clutch: Moist, multiple-plate Help & Slipper
Chassis: Polished die forged CF aluminuim two-piece body, polished die-cast aluminium CF swingarm Wheelbase: 1440mm,
Rake: 25º, Path: 103mm
Suspension: Entrance: Inverted 41mm Okay-Tech Telescopic fork, 137mm journey, preload and damping adjustment, Rear: Rising-rate linkage, Okay-Tech shock with preload and damping adjustment
Brakes: Entrance: 4-piston radial-mount calipers, 298mm chrome steel rotors. ABS.
Rear brake: Single-piston slide caliper, 245mm chrome steel rotor. ABS.
Wheels & Tyres: Mild alloy wheels, three.50 x 17in & 5.50 x 17in, 120/70 – 17, 180/55 – 17.
Dimensions (inventory): Seat peak: 815mm, General Peak: 1135mm General Size: 2075mm
Devices: Digital multi perform show, plus secondary GPS system
Customized elements: Customized physique package: remodelled seat and rear lamp, handlebar fairing, carbon-fibre console, customized decals, customized paint, ‘vestigial’ entrance indicators, billet rearsets, Velocity Moto seat, TomTom GPS
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