Trav Bennington is the coolest suit in the US of A. His first custom build was a 1981 Yamaha SR250 bobber styled after a painting of his wife, followed by another SR250 bobber. Both showed great choice in style, build, and color. This time he’s stepped up to customizing a 1983 yamaha virago 750 bobber.
bikerMetric: Hey Trav, what’s the story behind this build?
Travis Bennington: I wanted to build a bike in tribute to my grandfather and the other men who fought in World War II and painted pinup bomber girls on their planes, motorcycles, etc.
bikerMetric: That explains it.
Travis Bennington: Yeah. The girl on the bike is modeled after a bomber girl. After I decided on that theme I debated for the longest time what type of girl. I’m Cherokee, and one day I was looking through a book on Cherokee legends and came across the Ghigau. A Ghigau was a fearless female warrior. The two concepts of bomber girl, and Cherokee warrior, fit perfect together so I built the “Cherokee Ghigau”.
bikerMetric: Besides the theme, did you have an end goal in mind?
Travis Bennington: I wanted to build a cool, very loud, straight pipe highway bike that was old school and fast.
bikerMetric: What kind of shape was the bike in?
Travis Bennington: It was in good shape, and had low miles, but the bendix starting system was toast.
bikerMetric: So you got started and…
Travis Bennington: And I cut off and threw away anything that isn’t required by the state patrol.
bikerMetric: Because less is more.
Travis Bennington: Less is Way More. I chopped the frame and tank. Built the leaf spring solo seat mount. I made the leather seat, hand tooled my name on it, and old school double stitched it with Kangaroo hide.
bikerMetric: What’s that pretty bag?
Travis Bennington: It is not a bag! I made the Battery Leather box. I found and chopped a rear fender. Built the bars from scratch.
bikerMetric: How ‘bout electronics?
Travis Bennington: Put a new smaller headlight on it. Built a new wiring harness from scratch.
bikerMetric: Any words of wisdom for people looking to do their own builds on this model?
Travis Bennington: Yeah. Watch some videos on the Bendix gear starter system the early Viragos use. It can be a real nightmare.
bikerMetric: Sweet. What else did you do?
Travis Bennington: I painted the artwork. Built the air intake arms for the carbs. Finally, I moved the foot controls forward.
bikerMetric: What do you really love about it, besides the sweet leather bag!
Travis Bennington: Ha! It’s not a bag. Anyway, I love motorcycles that look stripped down and naked in the rear end. The leaf spring really gives it that look.
bikerMetric: Of all of your mods, which was the most difficult?
Travis Bennington: Painting the naked Cherokee girl.
bikerMetric: The most difficult part was the girl. Reminds me of an ex.
Travis Bennington: I sanded her off and started over several times.
bikerMetric: Yeah you did! You’ve got a couple builds under your belt now. Do you feel you’ve developed a certain style, and will you stick to it?
Travis Bennington: This is my second Yamaha. I also did a Kawasaki KZ250. Here’s a picture of my 3yr old and I sitting on them. He spent all last Saturday helping me finish the wiring on the new bike. My style is, I like stripped down, old school bobbers that make a lot of noise, and are colorful but minimalistic.
Travis Bennington: No. I pretty much keep the bikes I build or give them to friends.
bikerMetric: We’re friends, right?! Seriously though, what’s next?
Travis Bennington: I bought a 1978 Honda Hawk with a kick start for $30. It’s in really bad shape, but come on, it’s got a KICKSTART!
bikerMetric: Gotta do up one of those sooner or later! For $30. Not bad. I’ve spent more on cheap beer. Speaking of, time to wrap this up. Quick, give a shout out to someone before we go.
Travis Bennington: Shout out and thanks to my neighbor James McCallister for helping out. He’s a great body and paint guy if anyone in the Iowa/NE area is looking!
bikerMetric: Cheers Travis, thanks for sharing your backyard build. Swig of beer for the working man!
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