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.

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words Jon Urry | Pho­tog­ra­phy Si­mon Lee

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...

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