The sunny side of the classic world, with the VJMC’s Steve Cooper
Specials: they divide the classic scene like little else.
When the likes of Allen Millyard started sawing up Kawasaki two-stroke triples and four-stroke fours a few, vociferous, purists cried heresy but the rest of us just stood back in awe, scratching our heads. Other, likewise, talented individuals have done similar with various Yamahas to deliver triples and fours both air- and liquid-cooled. Then there are the Honda devotees who craft eight and 12-cylinder combos from the likes of SOHC fours and DOHC sixes. Clever doesn’t even come near it!
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Back in the day YamaGammas were a ‘thing’ – a TTTTs (Tuned To The Tits) Yamaha Powervalve shoehorned into an early Suzuki RG250 chassis thereby giving the best of both worlds at the time. Others, the lovers of the pure clean lines of a good Elsie, would graft the same YPVS mill into the LC’s carcass… well, it kept everything ‘in the family’.
Of course, marrying the best motor to the best chassis is nothing new, it’s been going on for decades. Think Triton, Norbsa, Tri-field, Tricati, Norvin and the like – the list could go on forever. Some enterprising souls even went so far as to fit 350/500 Triumph unit motors into a Greevesframe complete with the latter’s famous cast alloy front frame members… now that really was dedication to the cause.
Some amalgamations, however, do make you wonder what the logic was. Anyone else recall the Yamaha XS650 twin engine that was slipped into a reworked Kawasaki Z650/4 frame? Sometimes I wonder what the reasoning was behind that particular hybrid. Quite possibly because the two requisite units were to hand whilst the other pair (Kwak motor, Yam frame) were probably toast. Alternatively, the reason may very well be because the owner/builder could which, in all honesty, is fair enough.
Another intriguing composite has to be the metallic homogenisation of Yamaha alloy with Italian steel. When the likes of Benelli’s divine 2CE and its Moto Guzzi 250TS cousin were worth diddly squat and spares for the Latin twins weren’t easy to come by, it was almost inevitable that someone would drop in an Iwata sourced air-cooled twin. And before you turn your nose up just think of that rather special brew – precise, Latin roadholding graced with an easily sourced and robust Yamaha power unit.
Although the price of everything classic seems to have gone through the roof, there’s still the odd bargain out there to be had so if you fancy something essentially different why not have a go? I’d love to offer up some possibilities but I seem to have run out of column inches – oh, and there’s this spare Suzuki TS400 motor in the shed I seem to keep tripping over!Enjoy more Classic Motorcycle Mechanics reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.