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Check Out Rodney Serra’s NH78 Custom Build

Do you love your job? Even if you do, it’s probably not your entire life. In most cases, people contain multitudes and layers. Most people who love motorcycles are like this, with a shared passion for two wheels as one part of our personalities, and a whole host of other interests (and professions) that also share our time. 

What you’re looking at is the NH78, a passion project sprung entirely from the mind and hands of Rodney Serra. An architect by trade, Serra’s the type of person who wants to learn more, and isn’t afraid to teach himself, and/or apprentice to learn new skills. Thus, he found himself working to learn about a whole bunch of the skills he utilized to craft this project. 

The NH78—short for Night Hawk, but this time nothing to do with a Honda Hawk—was built using a Yamaha GTS 1000 as its base. As you can see, it may have started its life as one thing, but it’s substantially changed in Serra’s hands to fit his vision. One notable feature of the GTS 1000 when it rolled out of the Yamaha factory was, of course, the inclusion of James Parker’s Rotationally Advanced Design Development suspension system up front—as also seen in the earlier Yamaha Morpho concept. 

Among other things, this type of hub-centered steering helps bring a bike’s center of gravity down lower, which is usually seen as a big plus in bike design. Top-heavy designs simply don’t tend to offer great handling, making mass centralization—particularly at a nice, low, maneuverable point—a definite goal to shoot for. Plus, you know, that omnipresent question, “if having one single-sided swingarm in back is cool, what if you also had one up front?” WHOA. 

Anyway, back to the NH78. While its total RADD-ness automatically makes the design stand out, apart from that, you’d be hard-pressed to find many visual similarities between the NH78 and its donor bike. Its use of a very cool matte duotone gray color scheme on all the body bits fits in neatly with the idea of stealth. The orange frame and shock springs, however, scream for attention just as loudly as a certain Austrian OEM’s typical design schemes.  

Where the GTS 1000 was full of commanding curved edges and a general sense of bubbliness, the NH78 is distinctly angular at just about every turn. It kind of puts me in mind of what a bike in a PlayStation 2 game might look like in the real world, and I mean that in a good way. You will also never hear me complain about the aesthetic appeal of a single-sided swingarm, let alone two.  

The matte black wheels on the NH78 are just the right accents to play against the gray and orange color scheme that dominates the rest of the machine. The way the orange on the tank sits, in particular, kind of functions like a stripe of contrasting-color spines, like you might see on some sailbacked reptiles. All in all, while we’re not sure what it took for Serra to get to the end of this project, it’s hard to argue with the appeal of the results.


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