Black Cloud XJ650
By Ross Sharp - 25 Jan 15
We keep banging the Shed drum about folk who head off into an outbuilding, with a bag full of tools and a mind packed with ideas, because without these people the new-wave custom scene wouldn't exist. The enthusiasm and passion is wide reaching and not bound by language or border. Lukas from the Czech Republic is one such shed-head who has been lured into the custom world. He swore he'd always be a dirtbike kinda guy but stumbled across the café racer concept of modifying motorcycles both old and new, and now finds himself hooked. Lukas had caught the bug and acted accordingly, borrowing a van and heading out to find a donor; in this case a 1980 Yamaha XJ 650. Three and a half decades had been kind to the mid-capacity four-banger and it ran sweetly so Lukas and his buddy Victor could concentrate on the aesthetics and convert their imagination into reality. Steve McQueen is much adored and an inspiration to many, especially in motorcycling circles and in this case the Ford Mustang from his film Bullitt set the colour scheme for Lukas' bike. Before the fancy business of painting could begin the frame required the now familiar chop and loop. The battery and other gubbins has been relocated in the tail leaving the rear triangle open; a mesh crud guard keeps all but the most persistent grime away from the carbs and engine. Whilst enjoying their newfound outlet for creativity the guys starting amassing tools and equipment and named their endeavour Black Cloud, so it seemed fitting to produce a trick top clamp. Lukas wanted to achieve the flat line look so trimmed the bottom of the fuel tank and TiG welded the seems back together. The existing off centre and ugly tank cap was discarded, blanked off and replaced by a more symmetrical version. The paintwork is the work of another mate drafted in, Adrian from across the border in Slovakia laid down the Bullitt green, gold pin stripes and airbrushing to the tail. The sturdy motor was treated to a good service, with new seals and gaskets where required before coating in high-temp matt black paint, with some gold accents to match the pin striping. Corroded nuts and bolts have been swapped out for shiny nickel or chrome plated ones. Lukas seems to have a good network of friends keen to help out at Black Cloud, Pavel pitched in with his wiring skills cutting out any botched repairs and hiding all the necessary electricity in the tail. Good friends, sharing a passion for motorcycles and bringing a vision to life. Sounds like a perfect recipe from the Shed cook book. Lukas has another project in the pipeline, keep an eye on Facebook for updates, but in the meantime McQueen's Toy is for sale. Thanks to Michal for the photographs.