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Practice makes Perfect: ZMCustom Yamaha XJ600

The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ rings true in the custom motorcycle community. Over the years I’ve seen many builders progress from bolting on parts to building entire motorcycles from scratch. Without persistence and repetition, none of them would have reached that level of skill.

Maxim Zverovich is a relative newcomer to motorcycle customisation. Although he’s been into bikes since he was a child he didn’t start riding until he completed his engineering studies at university. His first two-wheeled love was a ’97 Suzuki GSXR 600, but after riding that bike for a few years his passion for creating had him searching for something new.

ZM Customs Yamaha XJ600 Cafe Racer

Maxim lives in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, where he’s established his own workshop under the name of ZM Customs. To help build his brand and hone his skills he’s just completed his first ground-up custom, a Yamaha XJ600-based cafe racer.

“I chose the XJ600 for this project because it has a steel frame and is air-oil cooled,” says Maxim. “I found the donor on a motorcycle sales website, took it for a ride and was very pleasantly surprised by how it behaved on the road.”

ZM Customs Yamaha XJ600 Cafe Racer

With the goal of creating a classic cafe racer, Maxim stripped the Yamaha and began sketching concepts based on the bare chassis. The focus of his design was to establish the archetypal cafe racer stance. This meant creating a level bone line that extended from the front of the fuel tank to the tip of the tail. Remembering his engineering studies Maxim also applied the golden ratio to his concept to ensure a balanced and harmonious result.

The start of the build was a routine affair. Maxim tore the rest of the XJ600 down and gave everything a refreshing facelift. The wheels have been stripped, repainted and wrapped in fresh rubber. The engine has been thoroughly cleaned and repainted. And the suspension rebuilt and adjusted to level out the stance and cope with the changes in weight distribution. To make way for his proposed new bodywork, Maxim has also trimmed the Yamaha’s subframe and removed any redundant tabs.

As the bike came back together Maxim also addressed the performance of the XJ600. The brakes have received an overhaul using performance pads and slotted discs. The intake freed up thanks to K&N filters. And the exhaust is a custom-built 4-into-2 system. He also ported the manifolds and retuned the carbs to make the most of the changes. At 72hp a standard XJ600 is no slouch, but now thanks to Maxim’s efforts and a decent drop in weight this bike is much more lively.

ZM Customs Yamaha XJ600 Cafe Racer

Despite being relatively new to customising motorcycles Maxim proudly told us that he made 90% of the parts on this bike which is no mean feat. To complement the cafe racer theme he’s fit his XJ600 with a custom triple clamp that has the clip-on style handlebars built into its design. Cafe-style mirrors hang off the end of each bar and there’s an aftermarket gauge perched on the left. The revised lighting consists of a dual-function LED headlight and custom-made LED lights integrated into the tail unit.

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ZM Customs Yamaha XJ600 Cafe Racer

The most challenging part of this project was the bodywork. From the get-go, Maxim committed to building it himself using sheet metal, hammers and an English wheel. It was a process that was relatively new to him and proved much more difficult than expected. The finished bike wears a faithful reproduction of a BSA Goldstar tank that’s been scaled to suit the XJ600’s proportions. The wasp’s tail rear end sits flat on the frame rails and follows the line of the tank perfectly. To give the bike a neo-classic vibe Maxim retained the Yamaha XJ600 belly pan but he’s replaced the plastic front fender with a steel version of his own design.

All up this build took 2 years to complete which according to Maxim is a result of his pursuit of perfection. “I redid the body of the motorcycle 3 times until I got what I wanted.”  They say that ‘third time is a charm’ and I think that in this case, it definitely rings true.


ZM Customs Yamaha XJ600 Cafe Racer

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