Jens vom Brauck really annoys me. He seems to build bikes that are fighting for space inside my cluttered head. I'm not suggesting for one moment that he's not an original thinker. That's not what annoys me. Deep down what pisses me off is that I know in my heart of hearts I could never finish a bike with as much finesse as someone with decades of design and fabrication experience. There would always be an awkward bit or slight bodge, which is hugely frustrating as the images in my head appear perfectly perfect. It's translating them to the real world that's the problem. I've been annoyed with JVB Moto's founder Jens for about 12 years, since he built Flat Red for the Ducati International Design Contest in 2004. Then came the Multi Scrambler in 2006 and about the time I was trying to think of the perfect v-twin steed for my year-long motorcycle adventure, he came up with the Ducati Scrambler. A full seven years before the whole, bright yellow Land of Joy thing invaded everyone's social media space. It was perfect. In fact in many ways it still is. And don't even get me started on the JVB Pantah and 750 Sport! Two bikes that still have us in the Bike Shed jelly-kneed at the merest glimpse. Despite a chunk of time passing since those bikes wowed the custom crowd JVB Moto's DNA can still be found in bikes rolling out of Jens' Cologne workshop. Recently Yamahas have been the muse for Jens' clay-shaping creativity and he's made a definite mark in the acclaimed Yard Build program. The downright obscene VMax Infared is still near the top of our please mister, give us the keys list. Last year though Jens made up for over a decade of annoyance, he lent me his XSR700 Super 7 for a blast down a sinewy Sardinian valley. I was instantly hooked. OK, so the Yamaha engineers are mostly to thank for their ability to produce a pant-wettingly good motorcycle but it was the seamless integration of custom parts and the way these addressed the aesthetic foibles of the stock bike that had me reaching for my wallet. Yes, I bought an XSR and ordered the Super 7 kit from JVB's distributor Kedo. All was going swimmingly until I arrived at Wheels & Waves earlier in the summer and clocked Jens' updated XSR Super 7 and had a chat about future projects involving the less rose-tinted MT-07 (FZeee-07 if you're American). Damn it man, get back on the naughty step! Had I chosen the right donor? The new XSR Super 7 on display at the Yamaha tent hinted strongly at the next JVB project about to break cover. OK, so it was just a different colour, had a snazzy Borani spoked wheel upgrade and knoblies but the aesthetic direction was clear. The MT-07 is a modern, pointy looking thing. An accomplished machine of that there is zero doubt, but in standard form isn't exactly going to snap necks at the traffic lights. Until you bolt-on the kit you see here. If you're not up to speed with Yard Build projects, one of the main ideas is to inspire riders to turn up to their local Yamaha showroom and order new bikes with the possibility of creating their very own custom without knowing the first thing about welding, Can-Bus wiring or seat upholstery. Some Yard Builds have been more successful than others in introducing full kits to the general public and as you'd expect from a German designer/fabricator and German parts distributor, the JVB kit is slick in all areas. You could probably fit the whole thing with a pocket multi-tool and best of all it won't matter a jot to your manufacturer warranty. Before voices from on top of soapboxes start bellowing about sell-out this and mainstream the other, park it and get with the times. We have a new mayor in London and he's holding hands with the one in Paris who thinks it's a good idea to introduce punitive measures to lower inner-city pollution by taxing ever so slightly used motorcycles. You know, those 2-wheeled things that effectively lower pollution and congestion. Sorry. I'll step down from my soap-thingy. My point is this. If you have the facility, creative wherewithal, patience and finances to embark on a custom build yourself, or can commission someone else to do it then great. Please don't stop! For one I'll be out of a job and so will loads of my mates. The drum I keep banging is to call all those riders of boring bikes to join the party. The man with a wide smile and speedblocks on his shirt will relieve you of just over five grand (here in the UK) for a spanking new MT-07 and if you search the eBay you can find unloved two-year-olduns for just over half that. To make it even more of a no-brainer you don't even need to order and fit everything at once. Piecemeal customising isn't anything new but rather than trinket-esque embellishments from a catalogue the JVB kit actually transforms the look of the bike, bit by bit. One weekend ditch the clocks and bars, fit billet clamps and LSL bars. Then paint the fork stanchion tubes (to make the RWU fork look more burly) and while waiting for that to dry, slide the forks out and refit with the rubber gaitors. Combine this with the signature JVB headlight and the bike looks completely different. Seeing as Jens and Kedo have made it so damn easy to modify an MT I'm not going to labour over the individual parts in detail, if you're really interested then at least use a bit of elbow grease and Google what a stock bike looks like, squint and imagine all of the ugly has disappeared. The Super 7 kit isn't just for show though, it's been developed for practicality too suggests Jens "you can also put your sleeping bag and a tent, or a big beer case on the rack and do the 'scrambler thing'. Cruise around in the countryside with your friends blasting A-roads and then head to the beach." This isn't some wistful marketing crap either. You try and find Jens at one of our shows, some of his bikes will be exhibited but he'll always have one parked out back ready to sneak off for a ride. "If you want to, you can go chasing superbikes on twisty roads in the mountains. With just 165 Kilos and 75 very torquish horsepowers, plus Öhlins suspension and a stiffer front fork setting, it is a very quick A-to-B bike. Plus it is the perfect wheelie machine." OK so this actual bike has a slightly budget bashing Öhlins shock in the rear but there are other options available, and the stock unit isn't that bad either. Neither the XSR or MT are particularly complicated suspension wise. A direct action swingarm to engine setup does away with linkages and fuss while Jens reckons the conventional fork benefits from a thicker oil for the average pilot and perhaps a beefier spring for the meatier rider. Potentially the hardest part of turning an MT into a Super 7 is choosing the paint colour. Jens has form with Wrigleys Extra blue (actually a BMW blue from their go faster range), using a similar hue on the aforementioned Ducati 750 Sport. Just to confuse matters, the above shot includes a khaki tanked XSR700, with a different kit. Rubber is an easier thing to decide on, pick your terrain and riding style then call the man at the tyre shop. Check the JVB website and you'll see that off-road adventure is high on Jen's list of pastimes so for the MT Super 7 he plumped for Continental's TKC 80. I'm bored of defending this choice of rubber so hear it from someone way more experienced and qualified "please don´t get confused with the tyres. Of course modern road tyres work better, but the Conti TKCs in this 17 " 120/70, 180/55 specification are nothing but a modern road tire with an off-road pattern. Modern compound, radial carcass. They work quite well with this lightweight bike. Once you get used to them and they are worn in for about 500 kilometres (especially the front tyre!), you will have a lot of fun. Only problem is, that they won't last very long." And they're a hoot on the loose stuff, as demonstrated on a recent camping trip. (click the images to Supersize)
Take the above with whatever sized pinch of salt you like. Of course I'm biased, I've spent a chunk of my hard earned money as a result of trying a JVB Moto machine and it's obvious that I like Jen's style but at the same time I'm not some wet behind the ears numpty blinded by a pretty pictures. I know a good solution when I see one and if you're like me, someone who tries to fit 25 hours into each and every day then you'd do well to check out the Super 7 kits.
As it turns out, it's not Jen's I should be annoyed with, it's flipping Pope Gregory XIII and his stupid calendar.
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