Double Shot TRX850
Wild TZ-Inspired Café Race
After four years of tinkering in his shed, Darren Taylor recently pulled the covers off his customised Yamaha TRX850. The beautifully turned-out machine was inspired by a legend of the racing world, the Yamaha TZ750. Once described as "The most notorious motorcycle of the 1970s".
Yamaha's TZ750 was powered by a fearsome 750cc two-stroke four-cylinder engine mounted into a high-tensile steel pipe double cradle frame that barely coped with the power output. The design philosophy changed motorcycling overnight.
"When I was a youngster, my dad raced at Bathurst so I would tag along and watch on in awe as the bravest of the brave tried their best to tame the TZ750 around the Mount Panorama circuit - it was a terrifying course back in the day," said Darren.
"The sound a TZ makes at full speed is incredible, and just being able to get up close to the race bikes in the pit area was a huge privilege. Even back then the TZ750 was a legendary machine."
At the time, Darren's family also owned Geoff Taylor Yamaha in Dandenong. In additional to Darren’s father Geoff being a multiple Australian sidecar champion, and his brother Cameron making a name for himself in motocross, the family-run business also prepared a 1977 model TZ750 race bike for local legend Graeme. "When that TZ was retired, my old man had it restored back to original condition and it sat in our showroom for many years," Darren revealed. "I'd stop and study at it every time I walked past it."
With the TZ750 leaving an indelible mark on Darren, the styling of the legendary race bike was always going to inspire his plans for a custom build, and in 2018 the purchase of a 1999 model Yamaha TRX850 set the wheels in motion.
"The plan was to build a Cafe racer from the TRX," Darren explained. "But I also wanted the styling to be inspired by the TZ750."
So while there's barely a sprinkling of DNA shared between the parallel twin-cylinder four-stroke trellis-frame road bike design of the TRX, and the race pedigree two-stroke inline four-cylinder of the TZ750 - with its double cradle frame, Darren remained determined to give the bike a TZ750 feel. Over the next two years, he transformed the TRX into something very close to the vision he had from the start.
"I left the front half of the frame stock," Darren explained. "However, the rear subframe is all custom made by Engineered to Slide, including the battery box. I also installed a Nitron NTR2 shock and shortened shock linkages to raise the rear. Doing this changed the steering geometry, quickening the steering considerably. Up front, Suspensions R Us installed Nitron fork springs and valves."
The styling of the seat was the only thing to cause Darren a few sleepless nights. "The entire build went reasonably smoothly," he revealed. "The styling of the seat was the only thing that snagged me for a while. I tried a few ideas before KJF Trimmers produced the final result."
The TZ inspiration for the bike comes in the form of the paint scheme provided by KDS Design. The amazing finish is provided by a Pearl Metallic White base. “I always loved the striking Team Yamaha livery from the 1970’s,” said Darren. “And my first YZ was a 1978 YZ80E, so this paint scheme just had to be in that style, no matter the cost.”
Darren confessed that he does not ride the bike as often as he would like to but when he does it turns a lot of heads. "There is a real sense of satisfaction when you build something unique that people appreciate, even those who have no interest in motorcycles. It’s a cruising machine and not crazy fast, so I have less chance of losing my licence."
While the engine has remained stock - for now, Darren said he has plans to install hi-comp pistons, do some head work, and install bigger carburettors. "I'm also planning to fit YZF-R1 brakes, billet rear sets, custom handlebar switchgear and levers, and a custom 2-into-2 exhaust."
Darren also revealed that the next bike on his drawing board will be a 1992 YZ250 or 1998 YZ400F. Until then, he's going to get motivated to finish the TZ750-inspired Cafe Racer.