Any custom Yamaha XSR700 we feature is sure to spark discussion about the base bike’s design. The XSR700 draws criticism for its cluttered mechanics and hunched fuel tank—and both of those are hard for custom builders to get around.
This heavily upgraded XSR700-based scrambler rises above both those challenges. It’s a collaboration between Portuguese builders Nuno Capêlo (Capêlo’s Garage) and Ricardo Santos (Elemental Rides), and was built for Yamaha Portugal.
It’s not the first time Nuno and Ricardo have worked together for Yamaha Portugal—they built an SR400 two years ago that clearly impressed.
This XSR700 was commissioned as part of Yamaha Europe’s Yard Built program, with builders from nine different countries delivering bikes. The project’s theme was ‘Back to the Dirt,’ and this XSR has dirt creds by the bucketload.
“I talked with Ricardo,” Nuno tells us, “and he was totally in. His first ideas were very similar to mine, so I stopped everything I was doing and started sketching. After a lot of drawings exchanged with Ricardo, we quickly got to the final image of the bike.”
The XSR700 has good bones and a punchy and versatile motor. But Nuno and Ricardo wanted to improve its off-road capability—and give it a neo-retro look, inspired by the iconic Yamaha dirt bikes of the 70s and 80s. So they called it the ‘XSR700 TT’ for ‘True Tribute.’
They started by swapping out the XSR700’s suspension for something a bit more dirt-worthy. On went a set of custom 43 mm right-side-up Showa forks. They’re adjustable for compression and rebound, with 230 mm of travel.
The rear shock’s also from Showa, fully adjustable and hooked up to a removable linkage to match the front-end’s travel.
The wheels were switched out for a custom set featuring Talon hubs, Excel rims and stainless steel spokes. They measure 18” up front and 17” out back, and wear enduro tires from Mitas.
Nuno and Ricardo also upgraded the front brake with an EBC disc and Brembo caliper, and switched the brake lines out for Teflon ones. And they removed the ABS to drive home the XSR700’s off-road intentions.
With gutsy performance from the 74 hp parallel-twin crossplane crank motor, there was no need to fiddle with the internals. The guys simply switched the airbox for a pair of foam filters to make room for the new bodywork. Then they changed the rear sprocket from a 40T to a 52T, and fitted a heavy-duty O-ring chain from DID.
Most of the visual mastery is happening up top. The fuel tank’s a custom-built steel unit, and we’re told it was “inspired by 1970s bikes like the Yamaha XT500.” Nuno and Ricardo got around the XSR700’s awkward frame lines by adding cutouts for the rails, so that they could mount it low and level.
To tighten up the rear end, the duo modified a Yamaha DTR fender, and added a pair of sheet metal number boards. Up top is a solo saddle, wrapped in a synthetic, waterproof fabric. And just behind it there’s a tidy little luggage rack, with an LED taillight cleverly integrated into it.
The front fender’s from a Yamaha DT125MX, and was shortened to suit the XSR. For the MX-style headlight, the guys grabbed a nacelle from Portuguese brand HP. Then they tweaked it to fit the forks, added LED internals with a custom daytime running light, and built a grill to protect the lens.
Just behind is an Acewell speedo and a set of scrambler handlebars. The battery was switched for a Lithium-ion unit with Bluetooth connectivity (so that you can monitor it from your smartphone).
Other custom bits include guards for the radiator and oil filter, a new bracket for the rectifier, and aluminum foot pegs. The skid plate’s a one-off too, as is that radical, high-mounted twin exhaust system.
With so much off-road heritage to draw from, picking the XSR700’s new livery was tricky. “We were immediately thrown back to those yellow, white and black racing blocks,” says Ricardo.
“But after a few arguments, we went for a different color option, inspired by the Yamaha IT models.”
We applaud their choice. The XSR700 wears the classic IT scheme extremely well, and with the engine components all blacked out, is visually less busy too.
Nuno and Ricardo’s XSR700 TT is a smash hit. It’s sure to be a ton of fun in the woods, and would look even better dirty than clean. It’s just the sort of modern classic we wish the Japanese manufacturer would produce.
Published at Thu, 11 Jul 2019 17:01:00 +0000