YAMAHA 900LC SPECIAL
Inspired by the bike of his wayward youth, Hag Hughes has created a bolt-on kit to transform Yamaha’s XSR900 into a contemporary RD350LC replica.
Hag Hughes has created a kit that lends credibility to the facially-challenged Yam.
THERE IS NOTHING THAT wrong with the Yamaha XSR900. Well, aside from terrible fuelling and dodgy suspension, it’s just really ugly...” Hag Hughes makes a fair point in describing Yamaha’s neo-retro bike. Powered by the firm’s wonderful 847cc triple, it may look a dog’s dinner, but it goes like wobbly stink when given some welly, making it the ideal starting point for any special builder.
“Thanks to broken bones, I’m too old and knackered to ride sportsbikes on the road nowadays,” explains Hag. “And I’m not alone; lots of my mates are in a similar situation and we have all been looking at upright options. But we still want the hooligan-factor in our bikes.” Which is how a modern-day homage to Yamaha’s iconic RD350LC started to form...
“When I looked at the XSR, its tank reminded me of the LC’s,” explains Hag. “I had been playing around with the idea of building a ground-up LC from parts, but with sensible modern updates and its frame and swingarm stiffened, which was always the LC’s weak point due to excessive flex. But when I looked at the XSR it was like a modern-day LC – a hooligan motor whose full potential is held back by its chassis – but it also had modern refinements such as traction control.” The seed for Project 900LC was sown and very quickly Hag had an XSR900 on his workshop bench. Which is when the hard work started.
Having acquired a set of genuine LC side panels from eBay, Hag set about remodelling them for use on the XSR. “I offered them up to the bike and naturally they were nowhere near,” he remembers. “So I had to go back to basics and make my own. It was at this point that I realised that this would be a heavily-involved project and I was in for the long-haul...” But even from the start there was an underlying theme, unlike so many of the bikes he built in the 1990s: any mods added to the 900LC had to be reversible.
“Nowadays people don’t want to butcher their bikes,” Hag explains. “So I designed the kit to be bolt-on and off-able. There are a few sections that require the hacksaw, but I’d say 90% is removable if the owner becomes tired of the look.”
Starting with the side panel, Hag created a template from hard plastic that could be bolted to the existing Yamaha mounting points using his own design of brackets, before covering it in expanding foam and car body filler which he then shaped by hand to mimic the LC’s side panel. Once complete, he then used these templates to create fibreglass moulds, meaning he could get a local firm to accurately recreate the panels for the kit. Next came the tail unit.
“Luckily a stock LC tail unit fits over the XSR’s subframe, meaning you don’t have to hack it,” he says. “So all I had to make was a few brackets for the rear light and mudguard to slip it into place. But then the seat started to fight me...”
The XSR’s seat is angled slightly downwards, meaning it crushed the RD tail unit. This time the
‘Nowadays people don’t want to butcher their bikes, so I designed the kit to be removable’
‘He took a replica RD350 taillight and integrated the XSR’s LED unit into it’
hacksaw had to come out. Hag cut the XSR’s seat base behind the rider’s seat and built a pillion extension to raise the tail of the bike so it would fit within the RD’s plastics. Once snugly in, he took a replica RD taillight and integrated the XSR’s LED unit into it.
“To keep the costs low I have used OE Yamaha parts where possible,” Hag explains. “So the mudguard and tank covers are stock XSR parts that I have re-painted, and the lights are also standard Yamaha units, just repurposed into a new unit.” However there is one major new addition to the build: the nose cowl.
“It is actually a 31K YPVS-style nose cone. The Pro-Am 350LC nose is flat and ugly, but you would have to be a geek to spot this...” Hag confesses. “It fits the XSR’s shape better but creating the brackets to fit it was a nightmare. I did actually make a special one to fit an LC-style 7-inch HID headlight, but in the end I stuck with using the stock XSR’s headlight – at which point I discovered the headlight isn’t centrally-mounted...”
Hag modified the stock XSR’s single clock to a twin clock set-up using his own design of carbon housing. But, where the LC had a speedo and rev counter, Hag’s bike gets a GPS unit alongside the XSR’s digital display.
“Having a single clock looked shit with the nose cone, so it had to be twin clocks, and I added shift-lights where the LC’s indicator warning lights are,” he says.
With final touches that include Hag’s own design of bellypan to mimic the Mead Speed units from the ’80s and a remap to sort the XSR’s poor throttle response, the 900LC was ready to hit the streets, 18 months after he started the project. And you can own one. Hag can be contacted via www.velocity-moto.com, though we suspect there may be a waiting list once word gets out...