Diversity, it’s great. Even if it’s just in your morning bowel movement, it keeps you on your toes, providing new and wondrous experiences. It’s one of the key reasons, bikes, their builders and the owners keep us coming back. Be it Shed builds, house builds, garage builds, pro builds, or OEM sponsored big budget builds I’m constantly amazed at the effort and distance guys and girls go to make their bikes their own.


Yamaha’s Yardbuilt program has been a phenomenal success, providing us with cracking builds from the likes of Deus, Wrenchmonkees and Roland Sands. We’ve seen SR400s, XV950’s and an XJR1300 or two, and it’s the latter air cooled monster that Keinosuke ‘Keino’ Sasaki has been let loose on. Just unveiled from his Keino Cycles workshop in New York his take on the Yamaha XJR1300 is here for your consumption, entitled ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. An appropriate name for a modern classic, given some of Keino’s jazz-like offbeat signatures. Keino_Yardbuilt_03 It’s obvious from first glance that this isn’t your average build; the combination of Asian and American influences making the style almost impossible to categorize. With bits of muscle bike, café, bobber and tracker thrown in this cross cultural, cross genre beast looks like a whole lot of fun. Keino_Yardbuilt_04 The quadruple-whammy of custom R-9Ts we saw last week proves that Japanese builders are once again flexing their powerhouse skills in the custom bike arena. Like those previous bikes, the imagination, execution and sheer quality of this build shines through. There’s a lot to take in. It’s difficult to qualify but this bike is a fantastic example of how an incongruous collection of parts and styles have been curated by Keino and brought together to work in harmony. Keino_Yardbuilt_05 The Springer front end smacks you in the face first, one of Keino’s in house designs. Normally more at home on a chopper or bobber build it clings to the bike, reducing the frontal area. But this is no show pony suspension, with a modern high spec shock up front the wheel stays controlled and planted, matched to an identical item at the rear. Brembo brakes on a custom mount ensure the stopping power is firmly in the modern end of the safety spectrum, while a cheeky little projector headlight peers over the top of the forks. Keino_Yardbuilt_06 The gorgeous hand built tank, draped suggestively over the enormous mill, removes a lot of the original’s visual heft. A lither beast remains, the ‘teeth’ on the lower edge of the tank smiling to reveal the mass beneath. It flows into the tail piece, also crafted by Keino, a black diamond stich seat provides a useful amount of padding for your posterior. The whole lot is coated in shimmering vintage Yamaha Blue, with the classic 60’s badge sitting perfectly on the tank. For a shot out of left field, see if you lovers of classic British sports cars can identify what the rear light came from. Answers on a postcard. Keino_Yardbuilt_07 Superbike bars lift the riding position to give a comfortable tracker feel, complemented by the high level exhausts. Twin sets run down the left and right ensuring this bike doesn’t have a boring side! The battery box tucked away under the seat, hidden behind the sinuous exhausts is a work of art in itself. This is a bike that works under scrutiny. Moody black powder coat and polished steel sit side by side, and the gold wheels frame the bike at either end. Keino_Yardbuilt_08 It seems that New York based custom builder Keino was destined to work with Yamaha on a custom bike project, especially considering the bike builder’s first motorcycle influences as a child were all Yamaha. Born and raised in Fukuoka, Japan, Keino’s first motorcycle memories were of his father’s Yamaha 650. The main inspiration for the XJR build came from the 90s though, fuelled by the Japanese classic street performance machine’s powerful inline four air-cooled engine. Keino_Yardbuilt_09 It’s great to see the big manufacturers acknowledge the aftermarket and shed-built scene. You really get the feeling that were it not for emissions, noise and other legislation that we might really see them kick off their brogues and pull something amazing out the bag. Who knows, show season is upon us and company purse string are loosening slightly. Let’s see what appears. Keino_Yardbuilt_10 It's Friday, so if your boss can't see your computer screen spend some time over on Keino's website and see how this bike was put together.