Heavy Hitter: K-Speed scales up with an XJR 1300 café racer
We’ve seen some truly out-the-box builds come from K-Speed. They’ve done everything from Honda Monkey cafe racers to a Yamaha XSR155 that looks ready for the apocalypse. But Thailand’s busiest custom shop knows how to play with the big stuff too.
This Yamaha XJR 1300 was built for a customer in Phuket. It’s so tastefully executed, it’s downright unassuming—but park it next to a stock XJR, and the drastically revised silhouette immediately becomes apparent.
A stock XJR 1300 is not ugly: it’s actually a stunner as factory bikes go, especially if you’re into classic big fours. But the owner of this one had spotted a sharp Honda CB1300-based cafe racer built by K-Speed, and wanted his 1998 Yamaha to get the same treatment.
K-Speed knew they’d need to slim the retro muscle bike down a whole lot to achieve the desired effect. So every last piece of its chunky bodywork ended up coming off.
Out back, the crew hacked off the entire subframe and fabricated a new one. It cuts a neat line with a sharp taper at the end, and a few subtle kinks in its flow to keep things interesting.
Up top is a slim leather seat with a classic cafe racer hump, and stylish tuck and roll stitching.
Part of the brief was converting the XJR’s old-school twin shock setup to a mono shock. So K-Speed had to include a new shock mount in their subframe design. They braced and modified the swing arm too, then popped the new R1-spec YSS shock in.
Up front, the XJR’s stance was tweaked further by lowering the forks a little. K-Speed kept the OEM wheels (they suit this style perfectly anyway), but shod them with new Metzeler Roadtec 01 sport touring tires.
The cockpit was heavily reworked in the process too. Everything from the headlight to the XJR’s prominent twin ‘bullet’ dials was tossed. K-Speed installed a clean top triple, new clip-ons and a set of Biltwell Inc. grips.
The hydraulic clutch and brake controls are from Nissin, and the vintage-style mini switches are from K-Speed’s own catalog. (K-Speed isn’t just a custom shop—they’re a massive parts supplier too.) The front end’s capped off with a tightly mounted LED headlight, and a custom front fender.
We’re not sure what constitutes ‘street legal’ in Thailand, but this cafe racer isn’t sporting a speedo, turn signals or a plate bracket. It does have a taillight though; it’s mounted down low, on the right side of the swing arm.
As for the fuel tank, even though it looks like it was made for the burly Yamaha, it’s actually off a Honda GB250 Clubman. K-Speed finished it in an extremely chic matte red, with stealthy ‘Diablo’ logos (it’s the name of their in-house range of parts).
They didn’t fuss with tearing into the Yamaha’s 1251 cc air-cooled motor: with 106 hp on tap and a lusty 98 Nm of torque, there’s little need. But they did swap out the air box for a row of DNA high-flow filters mounted to the four Mikunis.
Gases exit via a set of curvy, custom-made four-into-two headers, which terminate in a pair of ‘Diablo Custom’ mufflers. We’re told they sound great, and we believe it.
Getting the look just right meant reworking the wiring too, mainly to tuck things away. Smaller details are well covered—even down to the color-coding of the NGK spark plug wires and rear shock spring.
The result is a clean and sorted cafe racer with serious grunt—which scores high on eye candy, but doesn’t scream for attention.
It’s not only a great example of how to rework the mighty XJR1300, but also proof that Thailand’s powerhouse custom shop can play at both ends of the field.
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