Hey, look at this bike

Welcome to - Hey, look at this bike - our new monthly spotlight on local bikes. We're kicking off with a 1979 Yamaha. Michael Rosenthal built it. Besides putting together this beauty, he's one of the folks behind Two for The Soul. Mike invited us over to his workshop to talk about this build.

DL : Let’s get some details out of the way, what bike are we looking at?

MR : 1979 Yamaha XS750 Special

DL : Ok, very cool. Where did the Bike come from?

MR : My wife got it for me as a wedding present back in 2012. It was a complete basket case having sat since the late 80s. There were no keys, and one of the spark plugs had broken off into cylinder 3.

DL : So… some assembly required?

MR : Yah. It was a disaster. Naturally it sat for a while before I started chipping away at the build.

DL : We get that, a little time to visualize. What was the original idea behind this project?

MR : The original plan was to build this bike to sell. But after riding it for the first time I decided I could never sell it. There’s just something about 3 cylinder motorcycles.

DL : They’ve got a certain mysticism.

MR : Exactly - after that things started taking shape. I wanted a larger displacement vintage bike that would be raw but polished. Ugly but crisp. Something that resembles a 70s track bike but minus the paint jobs. (I hate paint).

DL : Got it. Big, 70s, raw & muscle-ish, gift from wife, ugly but refined. Paint sucks. Brief summary of the work you did?

MR : Where do I even start? To get the stance I wanted I went through the trouble of fitting an 18” wheel off of an XS400. This required making spacers for the brake discs and the axle.

Then I added Race Tech springs to the front forks, polished the legs, and added a Tarozzi fork brace. The speedo and tach is a DanMoto unit held on by a custom made aluminum bracket.

All of the unit's instructions were in Mandarin so it took a solid month of trial and error to get it working correctly. The tank is from a standard XS750 but I welded on some new tabs, stripped it raw, sanded it down, and finished with clear coat. The speed blocks are just a big vinyl graphic I cut up, because again… I hate paint.

I cut most of the back end off the bike and Brian at Urban East helped me make a new seat loop.

DL : Brian is great, we’re big fans of what they're doing.

MR : He also fabricated the stainless steel exhaust which turned out AWESOME! The brake light for the seat is an LED from a tractor trailer. I also added rear sets and custom made the aluminum brackets, the shift linkage, and the brake linkage.

That's how the bike sat until I wrecked on the American Legion Bridge in 2016.

DL : Wait, wreck? What happened?

MR : Somebody cut into my lane on the bridge and slammed on the brakes. I tried to thread the needle, but clipped their bumper and went flying 4 car lengths.

Amazingly I was OK. The bike was not so lucky. It needed a new tank, new bars, master cylinder, engine covers, and the electronic ignition was destroyed. It sucked.

DL : That’s devastating, all the way back to square one.

MR : It took me a year to get it back to where it had been (except for the shocks, I upgraded those to Hagons). Then I wanted to finish the fairing project for the bike.

DL : "The Fairing Project?" Sounds ominous.

MR : I had always wanted a half fairing on my bike, however the problem is no one makes kits for these things. I called in a few favors and was able to get a fairing for a good price, but I had to fabricate every mounting point. Then, I had hours and hours of body work to make it look presentable. It took forever, but a few cardboard box sketches and an aluminum tube later I manage to get it done.

DL : Nice, all finished then? MR : Kinda. Unfortunately on my first test ride the main mount broke from the vibrations so I had to make a few changes. Thanks to Tom Longobardi, who TIG welded the new main mount, it won't snap again! DL : Thank goodness for talented friends. Ok, so you’re all finished, you’ve been riding the build for a couple years, how do you feel overall about the project? MR : This is my 4th build. I like to ride, but I like to build too. That was a big part of this bike. I love taking a basket case that no one wants and make it a head turner or at the very least a conversation piece. I like to see if I can build parts instead of buying them. My only regret is that I didn't make the fiberglass parts myself. Some day, when I have more time, I'll see if I can get into making fiberglass seats and fairings.

Photos : Isaac Whalen

Urban East Fab Shop

Tom Longobardi

Two For The Soul [FB Page]

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