Turning 18, I remember it like it was only last week. If only, I can't even remember where I was last week let alone half my life ago. The hazy recollections I do hold dear are mostly motorcycle based and the unbridled enthusiasm that youth instilled upon everything. Mafalda Nicolau from Lisbon began her motorcycling journey aged 16 aboard a KTM 125 and she quickly became hooked. Her doting father decided to celebrate this new found love of the open road and combine it with reward for gaining a place at university. Mafalda was about to turn 18, and Christmas was around the corner so justification of a grand gift was pretty easy. Mafalda fell in love, along with many of us, with the It roCkS!bikes (still have to cut and paste that one) CS_06 Dissident, you know the one, the gorgeous beast that was exhibited at Bike Shed London 2015. The Yamaha XJR1300 based build was, and still is gorgeous, but Mr Nicolau thought a 1175cc jump might be a touch excessive. The MT-07 offered a much more user friendly option and the It roCkS team of Osvaldo and Alexandre were confident that they could apply the same unibody construction to the MT's unconventional frame. The guys started with the tricky task of forming a one piece tank and seat unit, not from fibreglass but from steel, using good old fashioned panel beating techniques to achieve the shapes promised by bang up to date design software. Despite being craftsman Osvaldo and Alexandre are also engineers and like to make sure things are going o fit correctly before committing to a material. Especially one as unforgiving as steel. The completed unit slides over the existing fuel cell and battery box, fixing in place with the minimum of fasteners. Yamaha have done an awesome job of making their recent bikes modular which allows builders the opportunity to get more creative with shapes than a separate tank, seat and tail construction method. This MT still runs with a stock battery box but the wiring harness has been modified to accept the Motogadget switchgear and Motoscope all-in-one speedo. Mafalda's sits on a neat leather saddle pad that's strictly solo. Her dad maybe sleeps better at night knowing that she won't be riding off into the sunset with a boy on the back. Out front the well stocked Rizoma catalogue was raided for top notch parts. Drag bars on risers, upgraded levers and mirrors are from the Italian component gurus while the grips and barend indicators are by German's Motogadget. The nosecone was also sculpted from steel and finished with a clear polycarbonate screen. The headlight rebate houses a small lamp covered with yellow film. Although we've seen a lot of that touch over the years, it looks spot on here. The stock suspension to all but the most fastidious of pro road testers is perfectly good, in fact brilliant if you find the right road. Rather than spend budget replacing shockers and springs it was saved for a sexy pair of wheels. Borrani came to the rescue with their M-Ray 9 fat spoked beauties. Not to be outdone by the likes of Rizoma, Yamaha have their own range of bolt-on upgrades, Osvaldo and Alexandre to concentrate on the trick fabrication. A chain guard, radiator end caps and water reservoir cover replace plastic and titanium plugs fill the deep holes where the frame bolts to the engine.
So as not to be overshadowed all of these cosmetic upgrades the gloriously sonorous cross-plane cranked 689cc parallel twin was given a chance to to make itself heard thanks to a full stainless exhaust system. If you haven't ridden one of these bikes in anger go and call you Yamaha dealer and borrow one, they're splendid fun to ride and listen to. Just make sure you leave the baffle behind.
CS_09 was built in time for Christmas 2015 and Mafalda was given a Cartier jewellery box containing a memory stick with photos of the finished bike. But the was merely dad fooling around, the actual bike was waiting downstairs in the garage. Lucky girl! Mafalda has been riding her pride and joy everyday since.
Santa Claus may as well hang up his boots and red romper suit as Mr Nicolau has completely reengineered the concept of gifts. And hats off to Osvaldo and Alexandre for not only making one young lady's dreams come true but also for yet again creating a custom bike different to those that have gone before. No easy task these days.
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Photography by Manuel Portugal Fotografia for REV Magazine