Jeff Palhegyi's Yamaha Yard Built XSR900

The world of motorcycles could be considered as a ride down an unknown road while constantly looking over one’s shoulder, usually to the pastime’s colorful past. Case in point, Yamaha’s adoption of the ‘Yard Built’ phrase.

Using the nostalgic term to describe custom takes on the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer’s latest models, it’s been applied to some very nice looking custom bikes. The latest comes from Jeff Palhegyi, who is no stranger to building cool custom Yamaha motorcycles, having created everything from radical Raider cruisers to an FZ-07 flat tracker and a “TT” SR400.

He and his team have been building since 1995, and the custom SCR950 scrambler they designed and constructed last year now has a new counterpart in the Yard Built garage:  a TZ750 inspired XSR900.

As seen in their latest round of models, Yamaha Sport Heritage motorcycles are designed and built with the “Faster Sons” philosophy: “Inspired by the past, built for the future.” Descended from the heritage of motorcycling’s past, today’s “Faster Sons” represent both the motorcycles and the riders who respect iconic Yamaha designs while continuing to push performance forward.

In this spirit, Yamaha also established an initiative to support custom bike-building globally. In garages and back yards all over the world, Yamaha owners dream of creating their very own customized motorcycles. Yamaha’s “Yard Built Project” seeks to enable these dreams by asking talented customizers to provide inspirational ideas on how to transform modern Yamaha models into “Yard Built” specials.

Many builders will not only inspire Yamaha owners with their ideas, but will also make custom parts and accessories available to help owners turn their dreams into reality.

This initiative helped builders from all over the U.S. to deliver stunning interpretations of Yamaha’s Sport Heritage models. These custom builds have included the scrambler styled Bolt from Florida-based builder Greg Hageman of Hageman Cycles, Californian Roland Sands’ multiple Yard Built creations such as the XSR900 “Faster Sons”, and the SCR950 “Checkered Scrambler” from California-based builder Go Takamine of Brat Style.

Palhegyi’s TZ750 Inspiration

Over the past 21 years, more than 70 custom motorcycles have been built by Jeff since his initial collaboration with Yamaha for a heavily-customized Royal Star in 1995.

“Working with Jeff Palhegyi Designs has been an incredible adventure,” said Derek Brooks, Yamaha Motorcycle Product Line Manager. “We’ve covered a lot of ground over the years, and Jeff’s latest project, the TZ750 inspired XSR900, represents our history in the sense that it blends the modern performance and neo-retro look of the XSR with Yamaha’s racing heritage styling.”

That racing heritage can clearly been seen in the finished motorcycle. “I wanted to do a retro-styled XSR900 that had the look of the Yamaha factory race bikes from the 70’s and 80’s,” said Jeff Palhegyi. “My inspiration ultimately came from the TZ750.”

Elements of the TZ750 body lines are evident throughout the XSR. “The tailpiece is the pivotal shape from Yamaha race bikes from that era, and I just wanted to build a bike that would go with that,” Palhegyi commented. “There are TZ750 styling cues everywhere, as that was the theme of the bike.”

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Successfully creating and building the styling elements of the TZ750 into the XSR relied heavily on Jeff’s many years of custom bike building expertise.

“The bodywork was the biggest challenge for this project, because you can’t just buy a fairing kit that fits an XSR900. We had to build the tail section, the tank cover, the front café fairing and the lower half fairing from scratch while working to keep the TZ750 body style,” said Palhegyi.

“The fuel tank design was another very challenging part of building this bike, since it is a cover piece for the actual fuel tank mounted underneath it,” Palhegyi further noted. “We had to make the internal tank fit with the tightly-wrapped aluminum tank cover, and it required careful design and fabrication to make all of the internal components.”

In addition to the handmade bodywork that consisted of mixed alloy and FRP construction, all created with a unique shape to fit the XSR chassis, the finished Jeff Palhegyi Designs XSR900 includes:

  • Dymag wheels built for the current Yamaha YZF-R1 (modified axles, custom sprockets and spacers were fabricated by Jeff Palhegyi Designs for proper fitment)
  • Graves Motorsports titanium exhaust system
  • Graves Motorsports clip-on handlebars
  • Sato Racing rear sets
  • Bridgestone Battlax Racing Street RS10 tires
  • Mead Speed vintage gas cap and windscreen
  • Custom seat constructed by Howard McKee
  • Driven Components final drive chain
  • Custom paint by Benny Flores

Once complete, Palhegyi and his team had achieved their project goal.

“Installing the freshly-painted bodywork to complete the bike build was my favorite part of this project,” Palhegyi said. “Putting it together and realizing it was everything I hoped for when I first sketched it on a cocktail napkin made all of our efforts very rewarding.”

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