Batman: One Maxed-Out Yamaha Royal Star Motorcycle

A radical custom Yamaha Royal Star motorcycle, with a V-Max engine and some unique visuals.

Yamaha Royal Star
A custom Yamaha Royal Star fit for the caped crusader.Tom Riles

This article was originally published in the August 2003 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

Kelly Welling isn't your normal cruiser rider. If he were, he'd have a nicely tricked-out Royal Star Tour Deluxe. And we'd all be pretty impressed. Just look at those fenders and the custom seat or the White Brothers handlebar mated to the Barons fork accessories, the Raptor billet wheel, the Headwinds bullet headlight and the Pro-One turn signals. The obvious hint that Welling ain't your normal cruiser comes from those four monstrous velocity stacks poking out of the gas tank.

Something is clearly wrong with this guy. After all, you can count the number of people crazy enough to graft a V-Max engine into a Royal Star frame on one hand -- and still have a couple of fingers leftover. So what happened?

Welling's whole life has revolved around motorcycles. As he puts it, "I eat, sleep and race motorcycles." Similarly, his wife, Norma, grew up in Michigan riding all manner of motor vehicles in the dirt, in the snow and on the street, thanks to her father's snowmobile salvage yard. During their 25-year marriage, the Wellings, including their two daughters (and now even a granddaughter), have spent their time riding motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs. Given this background, you wouldn't expect them to keep their cruisers stock, now would you?

The machine that is now known as Batman started life as a 1997 Royal Star Tour Deluxe. From their Michigan home base, the Wellings toured more than 16,000 miles, ranging from Laconia to Sturgis and many points in between. In '98 Norma decided she wanted her own bike, so a V-Star 650 joined the big Star. Then they began to customize.

speedo cover
You've gotta love velocity stacks! These are literally in-your-face performance mods. Note the Batman on the speedo cover.Tom Riles

The Batman theme for the Royal Star was inspired by the '60 black primered, lowrider Cadillac Kelly drove. He wanted the bike to look like something Batman would ride -- black, low, sleek and fast. The madness started with a Batman taillight. After 60 hours of labor, the brake light and a license-plate mount graced the Royal Star. The modifications garnered some attention, and the Wellings liked it. Thus began their trip down the slippery slope of radical customization.

Royal Star Engine
This ain't no wimpy Royal Star engine! The bike oozes power with its V-Max engine hanging out for all to see.Tom Riles

Batman's engine is relatively close to stock -- for a V-Max. So it's quite an upgrade for a Royal Star. To accommodate the monster engine, the frame had to be altered. The frame mounts were reworked. The lower frame rails from the donor V-Max were cut and shaped to replace the top frame rails on the Royal Star. The resulting frame is both wider and taller. The water spigots and hoses had to be rerouted. Welling cut and fit the spigots with the engine in the frame, then removed the parts and TIG welded them at the correct angles.

autometer tach
The Autometer tach with its carbon-fiber face plugs into a shift light to help Welling stay out of the rev-limiter. The air/fuel meter monitors the fire down below.Tom Riles

Wiring the beast produced the most headaches of this project. All the V-Max engine's electrical components (namely the coils, black box (CDI) and all-important V-Boost) needed places to live. On the V-Max, the CDI sat in the front of the frame. In the Star, it needed to be moved under the seat. Two weeks of man-hours were spent by Glen McCummer at Welling's shop, Kelly's Cycle, fabricating each wire in the harness to run the all-important electrics.

Batman taliight
The madness started out with this Batman-themed taillight.Tom Riles

The velocity stacks that protrude from the custom-made tank (which also accommodates the velocity stacks and the frame rails while still holding three gallons of go-juice) feed the V-Max intake system. Even the V-Boost plumbing lives in the tight quarters. A Dynojet Stage seven (!) kit feeds the four open mouths while a K&N; air/fuel monitor tracks the mixture. Exhaust gasses exit via a set of modified Samson headers attached to SuperTrapp canisters. Some Ninja pipes were cut to help reshape the Samson headers to fit the Royal Star frame. The bumped-up horsepower is transferred through Barnett carbon-fiber clutch plates. Barnett's clutch-spring conversion kit replaces the OE diaphragm clutch spring. Lots of power gets sent through the stock Royal Star rear end. This bike boogies through the quarter-mile to the tune of 11 seconds at 109.98 mph!

Raptor wheel
The Raptor wheel fits the Batman theme, but Welling says he's seen wheels with the actual Batman logo on them. Guess what he'll be buying this year? Note the single V-Max rotor.Tom Riles

The cosmetic treatment of Batman is as unique as the engine arrangement. The front and rear Pro-One fiberglass fenders were massaged to fit the Raptor billet aluminum wheels and the Venom X tires. A custom-fit Yamaha ZR air dam adds to the aggressive look of the lower frame. The White Brothers beach bar gives Welling something to hang on to while looking at the big Autometer tach and shift light. The rear suspension was dropped two percent to rake the front a tad. The whole package is wrapped up in a paint job applied by Kelly's brother, Russell. Of course, the theme would not be complete without the Batman logos gracing the bike from the speedometer cover to the seat to the air dam.

Kelly and Norma Welling
After 25 years of riding together, you don't think Norma would ride a stock bike while Kelly gets all the looks on Batman, do you? Well, Catwoman was built for Norma by Kelly in about eight weeks. The fenders were created in Welling's shop, as was the Catwoman taillight. The chrome goodies came from a variety of vendors, including Planet Cruiser, Pro-One and Yamaha Custom Accessories. The pristine paint is Corvette glossy black. After riding bikes ranging from a 454 Kawasaki to a 900 Sportster to a Magna, Norma prefers the V-Star 650, which garners a lot of attention wherever they ride. She's had to turn down several offers to sell the bike on the spot. So don't ask. After all, Catwoman was meant to ride with Batman.Tom Riles

Welling figures he has put five years of his life and around $37,000 into the Batman project. Is he done yet? Well, no. Since these pictures were taken, he's scrapped the V-Boost in favor of a nitrous-oxide system set to provide an additional 100 horsepower to the V-Max's prodigious output. To make the power a bit more controllable, he's also retrofitted the V-Max final gearing in place of the Royal Star cogs. This guy is nuts! And we sure are glad for all the crazy people like Kelly Welling who make being a cruiser enthusiast so interesting.


(815) 895-8141

(805) 642-9435

(800) 992-4993

(800) 858-3333

Kelly's Cycle
(231) 832-3548

(800) 884-4173

White Brothers
(714) 692-3404