This Yamaha XV500 Is a Steampunk-Inspired Masterpiece

This copper-coated custom is one beautiful beast.
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Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

This copper-hued Yamaha beauty is a steampunk-inspired custom from Virginia bike customizer MotoRelic. The shop is making a name for itself by building turning forgotten bikes like the Virago 500 into attention-getters. 

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Yes, there's an air-cooled V-twin engine at the bike's heart, but in this case it is a smooth-running half-pint 90-degree 500 cc Yamaha Virago XV500 engine, not a throbbing big block Harley.

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

"When you strip all the ugly off you find that there is a sexy little bike under the large mass of plastic," said MotoRelic founder Sean Skinner. "I love creating something new and different."

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

He's surely done that here, grafting Suzuki GSXR fork, brakes and wheel on the little cruiser's front end, and a massively braced custom swingarm on the rear. 

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Copper plating on the fork gives it a late-19th-century custom look that suggests the parts are all custom-made for the bike.

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

The craziest piece on this bike is Skinner's modified gas tank, which came from a Honda CL350 before he sawed it in half, widened it and routed the engine's intake trumpets right through the middle to poke out the top of the tank.

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

And the side of the tank has a clear tube plumbed into it providing an instant indication of the tank's fuel level. Genius.

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Skinner welded up the stainless steel exhaust system himself, while Craig Rutler sprayed the unbelievable metallic black, silver and copper paint.

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

Photo: Nubbs Sugrue

This copper-coated steampunk masterpiece demonstrates that artistry comes from the bike's builder, not the factory that assembled the original donor bike. This customized XV500 is a win for the underdogs.