Why build a bike like Monkeefist from a bunch of tired old parts, when you can start with a brand-new Yamaha XJR1300? That’s the big naked bike Yamaha never imported to the U.S. According to the guys at Wrenchmonkees, in Copenhagen, Yamaha approached them to transform an XJR into something interesting for EICMA, but not until last June. That, of course, gave the crew just three months to complete the project. Pardon the predictable plot twist.
The advantage of starting out with a clean, modern bike is that you are starting with a clean, modern bike. But it definitely has a downside: “On an older bike you’re freer to work with the design as the bike is very basic—essentially an engine, wheels and frame,” writes Crew Chief Per Nielsen. “On a new machine, the parts that are hidden are not meant to be looked at…”
Yanking out the battery box and all the wiring and relays to make room for air under the seat meant hiding all that stuff elsewhere, and building a new battery box (for a small lithium-ion battery) under the front part of the swingarm. And since that shiny new paint on the frame wouldn’t look quite right with the matte olive drab on the tank and hand-beat tailsection, the Wrenchmonkees sandblasted the frame, then threw it into the fire for a custom-toasted look.
An R1 fork and six-piston brakes up front provide modern steering and stopping, but the cast R1 wheels wouldn’t do. Instead, there’s a 19-inch wire-spoke front and an 18-inch rear. Clip-on bars and triple clamps of unknown origin draw the rider down over the tank, and Wrenchmonkee-built rearset footpegs give increased cornering clearance.
If getting back to basics is what it’s all about with the Wrenchmonkees, then the big XJR four-cylinder provides a graphic representation: Good air goes innocently into those four aluminum velocity stacks, meets its maker and is spat back out into the cruel world through a handbuilt stainless exhaust before it knows what hit it. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, frying pan to flame…
But these molecules have not died in vain. The purpose of the Monkeefist is to serve as a prototype for possible bolt-on parts that may someday be sold as a kit to allow the home mechanic to build his own flame-broiled XJR, just the type of thing the Monkees have been doing successfully for quite a few years now. See them all at wrenchmonkees.com.