So, it turns out I don’t have the budget to do a proper cafe racer build as I had originally intended. While there are plenty of bolt-on kits I could buy for the earlier versions of the Virago, parts are less available for the “2nd gen” (1894+) version of the Virago, and I also didn’t want to put together a motorcycle from a bunch of “stock” parts. Building a cafe racer requires a fair amount of custom fabrication, and while I know people who can do it for me, I didn’t have the budget to do it.
A project I’ve always wanted to do (primarily because it’s a more niche type) is a post-apocalyptic motorcycle build. My favorite fictional worlds are the wasteland type that you might find in Fallout. You can be creative the choice of parts that you make it out of, and no two builds will be alike.
There aren’t many wasteland Virago builds out there. The closest category would be some scrambler builds, which do look really nice, but don’t have that “scrappy” look I’m after. Rat rods are also a very close category, but tend to be more stretched/chopper. My favorite build is this one by Zhao from China in the Virago Nation group:
I love Zhao’s use of color, with the rust effect (that may actually be rust for all I know) on the wheel hubs. The yellow fuel tank and headlight fit in really well, with the fuel tank having an almost cell shaded look to it. The exhaust and rear fender are also pretty unique looking. Despite how good the build looks, most of the parts are actually stock. The exhaust is modified, but still the original 750 exhaust. The front-end is also original, but with great rust effects.
Overall design direction
The design goal is to make the bike re-use as many old (preferably vintage) parts as possible. Especially if they’re non-motorcycle parts adapted to fit in place. For example, using a portable gas tank or oil bottle as a fuel tank, and using the head of a shovel or hoe as a fender.
I’m hoping to be able to pay attention to each section of the bike, and come up with unique replacements to attach. Off the top of my head, that means customizing:
- Fuel tank
- Foot pegs
Of course, there are areas where I need to be careful for the sake of safety. I’m planning on using handlebars that are similar in length to the stock, but with a different (z-bar) style, likely with some weathering effect. The brakes can also be painted, but I don’t plan on modifying either the wheels, brake calipers, or master cylinder.
As far as the controls go, I’m going for minimalism over functionality. I’ll probably remove the handlebar controls, with the exception of minimal turn signals. I have an idea for potentially relocating even the turn signal controls (possibly to be toggled with my legs/feet?). Unless I can find a way to modify or build my own speedometer, I’ll likely go without a speedometer or tachometer. Motogadget does make a really cool looking speedo that would be ideal for my build, although the price point is pretty high at $336. I’ve considered making my own using an Arduino and a hall-effect sensor, so I’m more likely to go that route.