Yamaha street tracker
Sandy of Oz
"I shipped this XS650 Yamaha out to Australia. This is a project that didn’t work out as planned,
"For some reason, I didn’t have the heart to build a custom bike with a stock motor. So, it became a 750cc with cam and a pair of 34mm Mikunis, a custom exhaust, expensive bodywork, 43mm forks in custom clamps, custom paint, etc, etc.
"I thought retaining the stock frame would get me on budget, but by the time I was done, it took longer than we had planned on, which was way more work and I lost my ass on the whole project.
"The customer was sick of waiting, and after I shipped it, we had agreed on another funding instalment. But in the end, he never sent it.
"However, the bike rode bitchin’, made good power, had great brakes, etc, etc. The lesson I learned was that there is a minimum price to build something nice, correct, clean, fast, with good brakes and suspension and finished out well.
"Now, when someone approaches me with insufficient budget goals, I’ve learned to say “No.” It’s not about greed. It’s about not losing my ass.
"On that lesson, here’s the analogy I use: When I first started racing flat track, I had a average bike, with used tires and average power. The set-up was all wrong, and as hard as I rode, I always got beat.
"Gradually, over the years, I learned (the hard way), how to ride, set-up the bike, cut tires that I bought new, good chains, proper suspension and how to use this proper set-up to become much more competitive and win lots of local races.
"When I went to the races, I wanted everything perfect. I was hydrated, rode without eating first, and did everything I could to make my equipment as good as I possibly could.
"That said, if somebody said to me, “Hey, I’ve got a couple of old beater bikes. Let’s go do some practice laps at Maley’s Ranch and if you crash them…who cares?” No thank you. It’s really hard to go backwards.
"So when it comes to building bikes, I do everything I possibly can to continually improve the quality of my work. Are they perfect? No way. I have a long way to go. But if somebody now asks, “Can you build me a custom bike for $8K?” I ask, “What parts do you not want me to give a damn about?”
"No. I’m joking. I say, “Sorry, I can’t help you.” It’s not about being an engineering snob. I raise the bar for myself every day. I just can’t bring myself to lowering it if I don’t have to."
Copyright Sump Publishing 2014