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Meet the Yamaha XSR700 TT: A Classic Enduro Inspired Build

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What would happen if you gave some of the world’s top custom bike builders a stock bike and a theme, and turned them loose? What crazy, inspirational, possibly marketable ideas might they come up with?

That’s Yamaha’s “Yard Built” program in a nutshell. To date, builders have turned modern Yamahas, primarily from the company’s Sport Heritage line, into everything from post-apocalyptic street fighters to ‘70s and ‘80s-era two-stroke street bike lookalikes.   

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For 2019, Yamaha handed XSR700s to builders with orders to get “Back to the Dirt.” They were told to enhance the bike’s dirt prowess while maintaining its character.

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This “XSR700 TT” from talented Portugese builders Nuno Capêlo (Capêlo’s Garage) and Ricardo Santos (Elemental Rides) caught our eye for being one of the best XSR700-based builds we’ve seen so far. Especially considering the challenge of working with the bike’s often-criticized awkward frame dimensions. Their goal was to not only improve the bike’s off-road potential but to give it a neo-retro look inspired by the Yamaha enduro bikes of the 70s and 80s, hence the “TT” in the name: True Tribute.

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Capêlo and Santos had a solid, 74-hp engine bolted to a backbone steel frame to work with, so they left those basics alone. Almost everything else, however, is altered.

Watch: Yamaha XSR700 TT Custom Build.

The wheels were swapped for spoked versions, 18 inches in the front and 17 in the back, and shod with knobby Mitas tires suitable for off-road use. The dual-disc front brake was dropped in favor of a single disc to save weight. The ABS system was tossed to reduce overall weight and improve braking feel in off-road conditions.

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The builders raised the bike and nearly doubled suspension travel to 9.1 inches (230mm) by adding Showa units front and rear. To respect the “classic” look, they used standard forks instead of a more modern upside-down design. 

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The real artistry happened above the engine. The fuel tank on a stock XSR700 is perched high above the frame rails and rises up from the seat. Capêlo and Santos employed cutouts in their all-steel design to accommodate the frame rails, lowering the tank and smoothing out the transition with the seat. The flat lines combined with the bike’s high stance gives it a classic enduro feel and affords the rider more room to move around, a necessity off road.

Yamaha-XSR700-custom-enduro-build-7-1024On top of the fender is a slick luggage rack that doubles as a LED brake light.

The waterproof seat is a solo unit that blends into a rear fender adapted from a Yamaha DT125MX. On top of the fender is a slick rack that doubles as a brake light, one the bike’s many touches that combine form and function. Number plates to the side reinforce the dirt-first mission. 

Up front they modified a square headlight housing to accept LED lights and added an Acewell speedometer and high-rise scramble-style handlebars. One-off guards protect the engine, oil filter, radiator and headlight. The footpegs are custom units, as is all the linkage.

Yamaha-XSR700-custom-enduro-build-9-1024The lighting is a one-off retro design with high powered LED components inspired by late 70s and early 80s rally machines.

There’s a lot more that goes into creating a build like this than meets the eye. For example, take a long look at the work that went into the stainless steel, two-into-one exhaust. It sweeps high, out of the way of rocks and roots, and is finished with an integrated silencer you won’t find in a catalog. That it looks factory designed is proof that Capêlo and Santos know what they are doing. 

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Other modifications include:

  • High-strength alloy skid plate
  • Acewell speedometer
  • Minimalistic handlebar push buttons
  • High-rise handlebar
  • Dual action throttle grip
  • One off Toughened footpegs and control levers
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They considered painting the bike in traditional Yamaha yellow, white and black, but opted instead for a blue/white color scheme that pays homage to Yamaha’s storied two-stroke IT enduro bikes from the ‘70s and ‘80s. We think it was a great choice for a bike that combines modern technology with off-road heritage. Now we just need to convince Yamaha to actually build it.

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For more information visit elementalrides.com and nunocapelo.com

Photos by @helderbentophoto and Yamaha

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Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

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