LD West Virago Café
As the spring weather rolls in we can’t help but feel excited about riding season! Some of our long-time supporters know that we hit the scene back in 2012 with riders of all sorts in mind as being the ideal user for our Original LD West Holster line of products. As riders ourselves, the passion for riding came with the conceptualisation of the product to be multi use; go from riding to everyday life functionality. Bikes have always hit home with us and it’s probably safe to say that bikes are generally well liked by most people young and old around the globe. Even if you’ve never been on a bike, you can appreciate them in one way or another! No matter if it’s a sports bike, cruiser, chopper, café, vintage or even a dirt bike, everyone knows what type of bike grabs their attention.
At LD West, we want to go back to our roots by creating a new and fun project that can be documented and shared with all of our supporters! We’ve decided to build an LD West Café racer from one of the most unlikely candidate donor bikes around – a 1982 Yamaha Virago 920. For those of you not familiar with what a café racer, in one sentence, a café racer is a style of bike which is in essence stripped down to bare necessities to make it as light as possible to race around town with. It’s by no means an authentic, high performance sports bike; if speed and performance is what you’re after, just get a sport bike! Café racers are making a pretty solid come back in the last few years and we thought it would be a great opportunity to build and document our very own Café Racer Build!
A bit of history on the donor bike. The Yamaha Virago is essentially a cruiser bike. It’s made for comfort and long distance cruising. Back in the early 80’s when it was first introduced, it has a variety of engine sizes from 500cc to over 1100cc. This bike was a specifically released in North America to compete against the all might Harley Davidson’s. In the early days, these bikes were the S*** if you wanted a cruiser! They were packed with high tech gear and performance features no Harley could compete with (we know there are some hard core Harley fans out there who would disagree with that statement… #hatters). In any fashion, whether this is true or not (most of us here at LD West weren’t old enough to ride these bikes in the 80’s, let alone even remember them) we think these are perfect donors for Café Racer style bikes.
There are few examples floating around but we found no one has ever really documented the build and the amount time and effort that goes into doing this. The Café racer concept seems easy enough – strip off everything you don’t need and you’re done. In essence, that’s all it takes, but going from an almost 1000cc cruiser bike to a café racer takes a lot of work and determination to get it right.
Just a fair note, we are not hiring a pro bike builder to create this for us, we’re doing this all in house and to be completely honest, this is the first time we’ve ever done something like this! This will be trial and error type build and we’re sure the journey will be fun and we would love for y’all to join us!
Here’s a few pictures of the bike stock and when we picked it up and the current state it is in now. We’re working on this in our secret LD West garage. We will tackle this project at least once a week and try and do a follow up post once a week.