Carmen Cirelli from London, Ontario, Canada, had never built a motorcycle before this Yamaha XS400 bobber. He had just been between watching the Biker Build Off Series, and worked in a garage. One day he decided to find a cheap platform to get started. An opportunity came up on a Yamaha XS400 for a couple hundred bucks, and he went for it.
bikerMetric: So let’s hear it, freestyle, go.
Carmen: Let me start by saying my name is Carmen Cirelli and I am not a bike builder. I have always been into old cars and have had a few over the years. In my younger years I dabbled in dirtbikes and even had a Kawasaki ZX6R Ninja for a while, but my obsession with building a bike started around the time of The Biker Build Off Series.
bikerMetric: It’s amazing how many people say that around here.
Carmen: I remember being glued to the tv watching masters like Indian Larry and Billy Lane battle it out and being blown away by what they were making. I knew I wanted a low, rigid bobber, but since I didn’t know what the **** I was doing I didn’t want to tie up a lot of money in it in case it didn’t work out.
bikerMetric: So how did you go about getting this one?
Carmen: The classifieds yielded a barely drivable 1979 Yamaha XS 400, and for a couple hundred bucks I had a project. I started stripping it down immediately so I could get it into my basement, we didn’t have a garage at the time so the basement was the only option.
bikerMetric: Your work came in handy with the Yamaha XS400 bobber build though, right?
Carmen: I work as an automotive mechanic so I would grind and cut pipe etc. at work and test fit in the basement. I fabricated every part from the hardtail section to the seat and every bracket in between.
bikerMetric: And the handlebars?
Carmen: I wanted the bars to be as clean as possible while still maintaining a front brake so I did away with the bulky master cylinder and made a cable operated remote master cylinder which I hid under the tank. I also scabbed on an internal throttle from a 1970’s Honda CT 70 trail bike, yes they have an internal throttle! I wanted a small tank to give it that skinny look and you can’t get smaller than a GT 80 tank. Trying to fit 2 coils, wiring and a remote master under such a small tank proved to be quite difficult but they are all neatly tucked away under there.
bikerMetric: And the rest?
Carmen: I sanded and polished all the aluminum parts and lowered the forks to get the stance right. I taped out some flames and had a local bodyshop spray it. Once it was fully assembled in the basement, I took it apart and carried it up the stairs and put it back together in my living room. Once it was all back together and with the help of my brothers in law, Eamonn and Eoin, carried it out the front door.
bikerMetric: And then you fired it up and…
Carmen: It is surprisingly peppy for such a small cc bike and has never left me stranded. Although it has been a blast to ride all these years I would like to eventually sell this to fund my next project. I recently purchased a 1968 Harley-Davidson Ironhead which is going to get the same treatment but this time I’m going to build it in my garage!
bikerMetric: I heard you wanted to give a shout out to a special someone.
Carmen: Thanks to my wife Fiona for letting me have a motorcycle in the living room, and also to Dylan Woodward for the great pictures of my bike.
bikerMetric: Where can readers find you?
Carmen: On Instagram @carmentripster