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.
bikerMetric: So is Cherokee Ghigau headed to craigslist?
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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Hello, I have a 1982 virago xv750 that i’ve owned for almost a year now and has been sitting in my garage due to lack of ideas and time. I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of pictures of custom bikes. Yet, I keep coming back to yours. I like the simplicity of it…yet it looks so elegant and worth a million bucks. You don’t happen to have more pictures of your handle bar controls and mono shock, this is the most trouble some thing so far.
I’d really appreciate some friendly advise as your bike was what made me buy mine. Not skilled enough, but I do want to have something I can say…Built not Bought!
Your bike is a true work of art.
George thanks! I will be glad to help. My email is Benningtonlaw@gmail.com. Email me.
Is it the stock engine also you’ve built such a beautiful bike