Dream Bike: A Chopped Yamaha V-Star 650

When it comes to owning the perfect custom, research and patience can be just as important as the wrench and torch as this radical Yamaha V-Star demonstrates.

When people actually think about custom cruisers, they generally imagine either the builder/artist following a vision of what he thinks the bike should be or the builder following the ideas of a client who has the vision but not the skills to bring it to reality. Most people, however, don't realize there is a third route to owning your dream custom. When Bonnie Pfiester decided she'd gone as far as she could go with dressing up her Vulcan, she set out to decide exactly what features she wanted on her ideal cruiser. She began by buying every motorcycle magazine she could find to research what styles appealed to her. Next, she went to tons of bike shows armed with a camera. Once she had gathered all this information, she sat down and studied her favorite modifications.

Gradually, a collage of her bike began to reveal itself. Extreme cruisers really attracted her-the pro-street look in particular. So, a big rear tire, low seat and looong front end were definitely on the list. Since she has long legs, Pfiester also wanted a stretched-out riding position with forward controls. The fit and finish needed to be top-notch to compare to the bikes she'd seen at all the shows. Once she had the broad strokes of her custom cruiser outlined, she sat back and waited. Now this wasn't a passive waiting, but rather an active one that involved reading all the cycle-trading magazines, classifieds and web sites. With a long-term vision in mind, she was able to resist bikes that might have interested her while waiting for her bike to reveal itself. Eventually, she discovered her bike for sale on the Wicked Custom Cycles web site (www.wickedcustomcycles.com).

The trip from her home midway up the eastern coast of Florida to Miami wasn't a short one, but she knew she'd have to see the bike in person to make the final decision. After many phone calls to Wicked Custom Cycles, they agreed to meet halfway. When she saw the bike on the trailer, Pfiester says it was love at first sight. Although she'd liked it from the photos posted on the web, seeing the bike in three dimensions clinched the deal. She bought the bike on the spot and took it home that day. Actually, in her interview, Pfiester said more than once that she stole the bike, since she felt it was worth way more than she paid for it. This is the beauty of knowing what you want and waiting for the right bike to appear. If you're patient, you'll get the bike you desire for a better price than you think.

When we contacted the bike's builder, Robert Pristau, at Wicked Custom Cycles, he laughed when he heard Pfiester said she'd stolen the bike from him. He said he was glad she was happy with the bike but felt he'd gotten a fair deal on it. This V-Star 650 had been Pristau's business partner's bike and had gone through several customization phases with modifications being laid on top of modifications, making it impossible to quantify how much labor actually went into the bike because it occurred over a long period of time.

The inspiration for this V-Star 650 was Pristau's V-Star 1100. When his partner saw the bike, he said he wanted his rear fender done the same way-only more so. What started as simply cutting the rear fender took on a life of its own. While the V-Star may look like it has an oversized tire, the rubber is a stock size with a flame tread pattern. The tire looks bigger because of the way Pristau cut and wrapped a Fat Cats fender around it. The curved fender support rods accentuate the fender's shape. The bike was lowered via struts, turning it into a hardtail. There are plates welded into the rear portion of the frame so the frame's curve matches the arc created by the fender and the rear wheel. While he was doing that he redid all the frame's sheet metal to render it weld- and seam-free. A disc kit covering the stock wheel is the back end's final touch.

The previously stretched tank was stretched even more to match the minimized seat, which rests directly on the frame/fender and is covered with ostrich skin. Arlen Ness instruments are frenched into the tank for a completely integrated look. The speedo, however, doesn't work because Pristau didn't want to sully the front end with the cable. The front had been raked out 47 degrees in the first round of mods, but he swapped the triple clamps to get another five degrees. The fork legs are also seven inches longer than stock. The angle is further highlighted by switching the 18-inch front wheel to a 21- x 2.15-inch one. An aftermarket front fender was trimmed down to suit the bike's. The handlebar capping this slick assembly was bent by Pristau himself. The headlights are simply off-the-rack fog lights Pristau modified and sent to Southern Plating Specialties for chroming. Air Rush applied the same base color to the entire bike-even the calipers, wheel hubs and some engine components wear it. The tank sports a pair of evil clowns that are also based on the same color scheme. With this monochromatic approach, the chromed bits really stand out for a clean, simplistic look.

As far as performance, the stock engine received a Hypercharger and jet kit to match the Bub pipes Pristau modified by cutting them shorter and turning out the tips. Pfiester laughs when asked what it's like to ride this stretched V-Star, saying it isn't easy. But that hasn't stopped her from riding it everywhere from Sturgis to Biketoberfest. She says lots of men she meets say they'd like to get a bike like this for their wives because the seat is so low (it only comes up to her knee), not realizing it is clearly not a beginner's bike. For example, she says the turning radius makes for 15-point U-turns instead of three-point ones. Still, even with 52 degrees of rake, her V-Star doesn't suffer from the massive front-wheel flop some choppers do. She also says the Yamaha's engine is remarkably smooth, much smoother than some of her husband's previous bikes. With only two inches of ground clearance, some special precautions need to be taken when riding. For example, Pfiester rides around speed bumps, saying that's just the price you pay to have a cool custom ride. We'd have to agree, but don't know if we could delay gratification until the perfect bike came along, like Bonnie Pfiester did.