Rich is an amateur custom motorcycle enthusiast and loves nothing better than resurrecting an old-skool bike.
How to Turn a Yamaha Virago Into a Bobber
I'd previously finished a Virago 535 bobber, so I decided that I'd have a go at its big brother—the Virago 750.
It's a reliable custom cruiser with a lot more grunt than its baby brother, and the shape of the frame makes it an ideal candidate for a bobber conversion.
I found the bike I was looking for with low(ish) miles and in fairly decent shape, not running very well, but I was pretty sure it was just a carb issue.
I think it always helps if you have an idea of what you want the bike to look like.
I'd seen a bike on a custom forum with a bare metal tank and gold wheels, and I loved the contrast, so decided to go after the same look.
I cleaned and masked the tyres up, then sprayed them with etch primer (this is extremely important to get a good bond).
The top coat was done in brass rather than gold as the brass has a duller tone to it which looked nicer in my opinion. I also sprayed the carb tops in the same colour as an extra touch.
Finally, two coats of clear lacquer.
Cutting the Frame
I knew which bobber seat I wanted for the bike, so I ordered this before cutting the rear of the frame.
Once you have mocked up where the seat will go, it's pretty straightforward making the cut in the right place. I made my cut behind the holes for the original indicators as I was going to use the same holes for the new mini-LED ones.
I removed the swing arm and sprayed it black along with the rear of the frame.
I also installed some new 320mm shocks.
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Bare Metal Fuel Tank
I removed most of the paint from the tank with some industrial strength paint stripper, and then cleaned it right up with a sandpaper flap disc on a 4" grinder.
I like the brushed-nickel look on metal, so I used some 400 grit wet and dry and sanded long ways along the tank to create the same effect.
The tank looked a bit plain, so I decided to add some pinstripes. These were just the rolls of pinstripe you can buy from most auto stores.
Once they were on, I gave the tank three coats of petrol-resistant lacquer.
The big chrome pod covers at the front of the engine had to go, and I installed a pod filter on the right-hand side instead. I had to mess around with the mixture a little to fine-tune the bike (after the new exhausts were on), but afterwards, I think the bike ran much better than it originally did.
Left Hand Side Pod Removal
Here is a guide I used to remove the MIV/AIV system on my bike.
I was left with a couple of small hoses which I needed to tidy up.
What I did was a bit unconventional, but it worked!
I cut a couple of small pieces of steel tube and taped the hoses and steel tube into a bundle.
I then pushed a piece of larger tube over those. I found a radiator cap that would fit the larger tube, removed the cap's pressure valve and replaced it with some metal mesh, and glued it in place.
The result looks pretty tidy.
Making a Virago 750 Bobber Fender
I really wanted to have a go at making the rear fender myself, but I eventually decided to go to a metal fabrication shop with the rear wheel and had them make one for me.
The shop did an excellent job and it only took them a morning. They made it from sheet aluminium.
I used 12 mm steel tubes for the struts, crushed at the ends to create mounting points.
The front of the fender (closest to the engine) was mounted by an "L" shaped bracket directly to the swing arm.
I also put on a pinstripe to line up with the small one on the tank, and then gave it two coats of clear lacquer.
Removing Powder Coat on Fork Lowers
I used some industrial paint remover to get the powder coat off the fork lowers, and then cleaned them up with some 2000 grit wet and dry paper.
Virago 750 Fork Seals
The fork seals were really nasty, so I renewed them as well.
Front End Assembled
I cleaned up the brake rotors and also sprayed up the brake calipers.
I left the original handlebar risers on, but I fitted some wide straight "drag" bars.
I also went for Biltwell diamond grips to match the bobber seat.
Some people love it, some people hate it. I actually don't mind it.
As long as you label everything, and you have a decent multimeter what could go wrong (just about everything!), it's not too bad. Luckily it's not the 90s anymore and the internet will solve any issues you might come across.
I extended the wiring for the ignition and found a spot to relocate it.
Wiring LED Indicators on a Virago 750
Getting LED indicators to work on older bikes can be a bit of a challenge, and the Virago 750 is no different.
After loads of internet time, I found a solution. This is what worked for me.
I spliced in an LED flasher unit as shown in the photos.
This made the indicators flash, but a little too fast. So I wired in some resistors to the rear indicators and everything worked perfectly.
You might find that wiring in a variable speed LED flasher unit would work better than wiring in extra resistors. (I'd already wired in mine and couldn't be bothered to dismantle it all again.)
Aftermarket Speedo Wiring On a Virago 750
This is where taking the time to label all your wires pays off.
Wiring up the speedo is pretty straightforward; the only problem you will encounter is making the indicators flash independently because the speedo only has one indicator bulb.
The solution is to wire two diodes to the indicator wire on the speedo and then onto each of the live wires on the front indicators.
It sounds confusing, but it's actually pretty easy. Hopefully the photos below will make things clearer.
These are the diodes I used.
Below is a short video of the speedo wired up and working.
When you remove the original instrumentation from the bike you're left with the problem of how to attach the top of the headlight.
I decided to make a bracket from a 3 mm aluminium plate with various spacers and washers. I glued some black mesh from an old speaker over the hole in the top of the headlight housing where the cables used to go. I was pretty happy with the end result.
Relocating The Fuses
I decided the best place for the fuses was under the tank running along the bottom of the frame.
I just extended the wiring and replaced the original fuse set up with inline fuses.
Fabricating The Exhaust
After looking at hideously expensive aftermarket exhaust systems, I decided to fabricate the exhaust myself.
I bought 2 sections of flexible exhaust, two sections of chrome slip on and some clamps. After a few mockups, I got something I was happy with.
I made a bracket to support both exhausts and fixed it to the frame under the rear foot peg. I also slash cut the slip ons.
Lastly, I wrapped both exhausts in titanium wrap with stainless ties.
The seat mount was actually pretty straightforward.
The main part is a section of square tube bolted through holes that are already in the frame.
To accommodate the studs on the seat I just added a couple of extra brackets measured to fit them. The front is just bolted through the original hole.
Virago Bobber Seat
The seat mount was actually pretty straightforward.
The main part is a section of square tube bolted through existing holes in the frame.
To accommodate the studs on the seat I added two brackets with holes measured to fit the studs.
The front of the seat is just bolted through the original hole.
The wiring under the seat was really visible so I made a cover from some really thin pattered aluminium A4 sheet. (You can easily bend the stuff with your hands) and sprayed it black.
Virago Bobber Seat
Finished Virago 750 Bobber
All told the project took around 10 months.
Really happy with the end result.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.