Lions Den Customs - Cub 001
By Ali Latimer - 21 Nov 14
The Yamaha XS is a popular choice for an array of custom bike designs, and this little 400, nicknamed Cub/001, has gone down the scrambler route, a trend that seems to still be growing, not only have recent years given us a wider choice of dirt focused tyres, but I think that Scramblers have a greater sense of fun than say a Café Racer, so their popularity will continue to grow and we will continue to see fun bikes of all sizes wearing nobblies. This build is the first to come from Lions Den Customs, a collective of custom motorcycle builders, musicians and cooks, their goal is to have a venue where all of this happens in one place. The Lions’ Den. A music venue, next to the workshop with a café in between to satisfy all those comfort cravings. They're working hard to turn this dream into reality, a task we're familiar with ourselves. As well as building a lovely little bike, Daniel Thomas tells his own story really well, so here it is: "This 1977 Yamaha xs400 was found outside a barn in Devon. Almost rusted beyond repair, it was brought back to London in pieces to begin its transformation. The bike was stripped down to the last bolt so that each individual part could be restored before even thinking about the design of it. Once this was under way, thoughts about what the style, look and feel would be for the first Lions Den Customs motorcycle. Inspired by posters of Steve McQueen sitting on some scrambler, I knew quite early on I wanted it to have knobbly tyres and a rough, ready to ride feel". "Engine parts came back from being blasted and the process of rebuilding it began. New parts, from the ground up were used, from bearings to piston rings. It is now like a new engine. It will be hard to ride it like one for the first few miles! The starter motor and clutch were removed to lose a little weight and resulting in kick start only for that classic sound when starting a bike". "The tank came from a 400 special. They aren’t very pretty and it looked too heavy when sitting on the frame. To give it more shape and add to the classic look I was after, I knocked some knee indents into the sides. It created much more interesting lines, particularly when standing behind the bike. It also got me rethinking the paintwork design. I ripped off the petrol cap and fittings knowing that I wanted a pie crust type cap and eventually found one which was later welded in. It adds another level to what has now become a beautiful tank". "The frame was heavily modified. All unnecessary fittings were removed and the back end chopped with a loop welded on for the flat seat. I also made a tray for the electrics to be housed in, which was welded in underneath the seat. As it is kick start only the tray could be very shallow as only a small battery is needed. With grinder in hand, I moved to the front of the bike and chopped off the fittings on the fork legs for a front mudguard as I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to have one. Chopping off those fittings gave the forks a cleaner look and also gave more clearance for the massive Continentals I planned on fitting"! "I switched over the swing arm for one that meant I could have a rear disc as I felt it suited the look a little more and better stopping power is always a good thing. To achieve a more aggressive scrambler look I fitted some longer shocks, lifting the back end up. This also helped with clearance between the rear mudguard and the massive tyre that would adorn the rear wheel". "With the majority of the hardcore fabrication done, I moved onto the finer details as the bike was really starting to take shape. I made up the brackets for both the headlight and taillight out of aluminium, ending up with a drilled and polished design that worked well with the look I was going for. It became a theme as I then made up the number plate bracket with the same design, which happened to match the rear sprocket. I also made a barrel for the new ignition out of stainless steel, which is tucked away, in front of the tank. I ground out the welds and polished it up to match the other brackets". "It was finally time to start the thing up. I fitted the modified loom and after a few kicks she fired up! An incredible feeling after hours and hours of hard work. It was at this time that I met Greg from Black Shuck Kustom. We discussed my initial thoughts for the paintwork. I knew I wanted both gloss and satin black and an antique gold for the logo. A ‘Y’ shape would follow the lines of the tank, highlighted by a gold pinstripe. Greg offered some of his own creative ideas, which included the satin stripes, harking back to the original Yamaha designs. The end result has surpassed my expectations. Gloss black, which has endless depth and a mesmeric quality. Rich gold that makes the lion look royal and powerful. The wheels match the quality of the diamond cut ones on sports cars. A testament to Gregs talent and hard work". "With the bike in colour, we took it for a spin, setting off car alarms along the way. For only a little 400 it sounds thunderous with the cocktail shaker exhausts. It handles well and most importantly gives you the feeling that only a real motorbike should. One of freedom and excitement". I'm sure you'll agree that this beauty looks great fun, and as Daniel is a London lad, I'm going to be on the look out for this bike whizzing around town, it should be easy to find; it'll be the one buzzing down the street with an orchestra of car alarms playing its theme tune. Thanks for sharing both your bike and your story Daniel, we look forward to the Lions Den's opening night party and of course your next build, Cub/002. Keep an eye on their Tumblr page and website for updates.