Stories

I Once Built A Sport Bike From A Parts Bin

Sit down. Let me tell you a story about the time I bought a sport bike. It all started after I sold my Buell XB9 and was scratching that itch for a crotch rocket. You know, one that revved to the moon and would make my sphincter so tight that my shit would break in to tears. A turbo Hyabusa was out of my price range but there were plenty of other bikes to choose from. 80's and 90's speed was cheap but I wanted something that looked the part as well. Craigslist was my primary outlet and it was there that I found what would be my next ride.

When I first met up with the seller we took a walk around the side of the split level house to the parking deck. There lot was packed with blue tarps draping over motorcycles that extended into the back yard and into the basement. Then there were the plastic crates. Hundreds of them filled double tall with pointy things poking through. A mix of new’ish and worn fuel tanks, fenders, seats, wheels, tires. Everywhere I looked were motorcycle parts. It was a scrap yard of dreams but what the hell was I doing here?

“Right here”, said the seller, about my height, late 20’s, tattooed and bushy faced. Looked like a legit motorcycle enthusiast, if I ever saw one.

As for the motorcycle I came to see. There it was. A black frame with a partially assembled engine surrounded by majorly scuffed up silver fairings. The forks and wheels were in the corner. At one time this was a 2004 Yamaha R6.

“It’ll scream once it’s back together”, he said. “Maybe take a week or so to get it all buttoned up.”

Building a Sport Bike

Buttoned up sounded good and I took his word for it. The price was right and where most others wouldn’t have made it this far, I was too amped up by the environment and thoughts of building my own creation to walk out now. We shook on it. The deal was that I’d swing over each day after work and help re-assemble this Yamaha R6 back to glory. All for the price of $3,000 USD.

Piecing the bike back together took longer than a week. There were a few odds’n’end pieces that we had trouble sourcing but we got it done. Fans of the Yamaha R6 will immediately notice the shorty titanium muffler from a newer R6. This was pulled from a newer bike and shortened to fit this generation. How’d it sound? LOUD! Check the video further down.

5 motorcycles parked
Josh’s Yamaha R6 parked with Buells

The fairings and body work were scuffed up good so we took a can of black bed liner to it. Added weight and protection! I did not want to spray the tank so we left that alone. Visually, it had seen better days and I already had a plan of how I wanted to make it look. As for the important mechanical stuff, it was sound. I think.

Josh's 2004 Yamaha R6 in black
Josh’s 2004 Yamaha R6 in the rain

Right, the bike wasn’t pretty, but it ran good and I had it checked out by RNR Cycles in Sterling, VA just to be sure. I also had new Dunlop tires mounted and had the dampers dialed in and the bike balanced for my weight. Everything was good to go. I really wish I had more photos. I took them every day to document the progress but that was years ago on a phone I no longer have. These are the few I found. The one to the left was the day after taking it home. Naturally it would rain.

The bike was riot! Way faster than anyone needed on the streets and had handling limits far beyond my own comfort level. Every Saturday morning I would meet up with my riding buddies at the local Chic-Fil-A at sun rise and we’d ride west toward the mountains, not to return until mid-afternoon. The freedom bit of riding is a real thing. We rode until our tanks were on fumes, then we filled up and rode some more.

With the bike mechanically good to go I set out for a set of clean painted fairings. I sourced a local set of red fairings from a model year newer R6 and tank to match. The 05+ R6 had different front fork and therefore a different front fender so I kept the unpainted black one. I also dug the sweeping black lower and tail pieces with the black rear wheel, so those stayed on the bike. I later added xenon headlight bulbs to finish it off.

Josh's 2004 Yamaha R6 on stands
Josh’s 2004 Yamaha R6 on stands

The stand out component I was missing was a gold front wheel. Don’t know why, but I really wanted a gold front wheel. After a few weeks on eBay I managed to snag one for a good price. And upon arrival promptly planked on it.

I’m not sure when or how, but at some point my left hand became very sensitive to the motion of clutching in. It was so painful that I could no longer ride more than fifteen minutes in traffic. Just couldn’t tolerate the pain. None of my friends had the problem but I was convinced it was due to the riding position of this sport bike. I could have bought different handle bars to sit more upright but what was the point of those on a sport bike like the Yamaha R6?

It wasn’t too long after that I bought a BMW M3 and soon my weekly rides were few and far between. Then one day it happened. I made a walk-around video (below) and a craigslist post and in just a few hours my R6 was gone.

You’ll want to lower your speaker volume before watching. Camera shake was also pretty bad. Sorry.

Maybe I’ll have another motorcycle one day but I doubt it will be a sport bike. Maybe something like a BMW R 1200 GS or a Triumph Trophy. It’s all a dream for now. I genuinely miss riding motorcycles but just can’t justify another purchase today. But some day when the time is right I’ll strap on the helmet once more with the wife on the back seat.


Bonus Images

Josh's 2004 Yamaha R6 Front Angle Low
Josh’s 2004 Yamaha R6 Front Angle Low
Josh's 2004 Yamaha R6
Josh’s 2004 Yamaha R6
Josh's 2004 Yamaha R6 on stands
Josh’s 2004 Yamaha R6 on stands
Josh's 2004 Yamaha R6
Josh’s 2004 Yamaha R6

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