A Yamaha Royal Star Deals Out A High-Performance Flush

Antonio Renzi's Wild Star

Antonio Renzi custom Royal Star
Antonio Renzi custom Royal Star is neither a basic or beginner bike. It's a monster.Kevin Wing

This article was originally published in the August 2001 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

In the early 1980s, I had the temerity to entertain several dozen crackpot hypotheses on the fundamentals of motorcycling—this was before I even owned a bike. One such theory stated the very first bike you own ought to be dirt cheap and ugly as sin. Con­sequently, my first ride was a CB450SC Honda Nighthawk—“popularly priced” fodder for a carefree, college-bound simpleton like yours truly. Obviously bone-shaking performance and dashing good looks were luxuries buried far down on my shopping checklist at the time. I was recently reminded of my irrelevant rants while on a photo shoot in Modesto, California, where I met Antonio Renzi. His first bike is the 1400cc Yamaha Royal Star pictured here. A heavyweight cruiser with custom bodywork and seriously massaged mechanicals has a funny way of smashing small-minded motorcycle theories. In fact, gazing at Renzi’s immaculate 1997 Royal Star, with its supercharger sprouting from the cylinders, made my first-bike theory seem painfully ignorant. This guy’s first ride is neither a basic nor a beginner bike. It’s a monster. Renzi admits he was drawn to Harley-Davidsons initially, but the expense and reputation for unreliability redirected his quest toward metrics. An admirer of functionality, Renzi found himself particularly intrigued by the Yamaha Royal Star’s innovative four-cylinder configuration. Renzi acquired his first registration slip three years ago with the purchase of this Star, even though he’d been riding for 15 years prior. “Before this,” he says, “I just rode whatever was available…cousins’ bikes, friends’ bikes…whatever!”

Closer to Fine

Renzi's penchant for eye-pleasing aesthetics is evident on the bodywork of the bike, most notably with its stretched gas tank, which creates a leaner look for the Royal Star. He also redesigned the fenders, with extensions fabricated to lengthen the rear and follow the inner arc of the wheel. The stock front fender was chopped three inches, exposing a shimmering billet Pro-One front wheel. Stock width was retained on both fenders, but the bike's front end was lowered 1.5 inches with the help of a Baron Custom Accessories kit. Renzi dropped the back down even further with a new mounting bracket for the stock shocks, lowering the whole shebang 2.5 inches.

A Planet Cruiser triple tree assembly was added and decorated with a billet clamp from Pro-One, which show­cases unexpectedly recessed turn signals. The forks were chromed at West Coast Chrome and the combination bathes the entire front end in reflective metal. This unique Royal Star also sports a billet rear wheel from Pro-One and the imposing, cavernous headlight from Head­winds ensures the Star is clearly seen even if it's not heard. Braided stainless steel front brake lines snake down to the chromed caliper for better brake power transfer and more metallic sheen. The brake rotor is polished too, as are the Baron forward controls, which Renzi says not only make his ride more stylish, but also far more comfortable to ride.

Antonio Renzi custom Royal Star details
Clockwise, from top left: Samson pipes echo beefy internals; this bike has boost gauges and all; Aeromach mirrors spice up the rear view; a soapy paint job can't hide the massive supercharger.Kevin Wing

Come Fly with Me

Renzi's frustration with the Star's sluggish powerplant necessitated bold measures. The bike's approximately 60 stock horsepower left him cold. After he spotted a magazine article about a supercharged V-Max built by Magna Charger, he jumped on the horn with chief developer Bill Bushling. The ensuing conversation convinced Renzi that supercharging would indeed put a tiger in his tank, but as luck would have it, there weren't any kits available for the Royal Star. However, both protagonists agreed a custom-made assembly was intriguing, and the result is a claimed 116 horses delivered to the rear wheel—an increase of nearly 100 percent over stock! Renzi says he normally runs five or six pounds of boost with his set-up, and claims to have ripped out a top speed of 155 mph. That was as fast as he could coax his supercharged Star on a solitary run, however, before the blower belt broke.

Since supercharger assemblies heat up internal workings more intensely than a stock engine would, Renzi decided to install a fatter aluminum radiator, crafted by local shop Griffin’s Radiators to his specs, and Samson 4-into-4 slip-on pipes were fitted to the Royal Star’s stock headers. A big-bore kit intended for a Yamaha V-Max was also whipped into the mix, upping displacement to 1500cc. Lower compression pistons were plugged in for less resistance, and at an 8.5:1 ratio, Renzi says he can now run with increased boost. All these meaty performance mods couldn’t help but influence the bike’s personality, prompting Renzi to dub his unruly cruiser 1WildStar. Check the vanity license plate next time it blows by you….

Getting Gassy

Faster is better, though, and Renzi isn’t about to stop pushing the performance envelope yet. He decided nitrous was in order, and again made a call to Bill Bushling at Magna Charger, who gladly custom-fit the required nozzles and tubing into the engine bay and crafted hookups for the nitrous canister. The entire system wasn’t finished as of this writing, but Renzi has fabricated a bottle cradle and welded it to the left side of the bike’s frame, next to the radiator.

Antonio Renzi custom Royal Star seat
Renzi sits comfortably atop his custom on the Corbin custom ostrich-skin seat (which matches the tank strap panel).Kevin Wing

Corbin supplied the custom ostrich-skin seat and matching tank strap panel that create the color tone for the frame, which was matched by Renzi’s good friend, Ray Lopez. For the paint detail and design, Renzi called Larry Alvarez at the Airbrush Shop (who also painted the Sleepy Hollow custom bike in our February 2001 issue). He presented Alvarez with the concept of car wash soap bubbles. As an explanation, Renzi offered only that he witnessed a show bike being washed once, and the image of the wet bubbles sliding over bodywork remained etched in his mind.

Final details on the bike include Arlen Ness boost/supercharger indicator gauges mounted on top of a one-inch Flanders drag bar modified to fit the metric bike. The AeroMach rear view mirrors are discontinued models that were spotted in a magazine and unearthed in a dusty warehouse. Eye catching, engraved chrome grips come courtesy of Arlen Ness, and LED running lights, appearing in dashes over the plate, were purchased "at a random bike show," says Renzi. He recessed these into the bodywork after adapting the license plate just inside the lower fender. Taillights from Arlen Ness highlight the swoopy, full-fendered rear.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Before modifications were even complete, Renzi began riding with the Modesto Star Riding group, a local organization with many custom bikes. His craftsmanship didn’t go unnoticed, and he started receiving orders for quick bodywork jobs from some of his riding partners. Renzi responded by opening up Modesto Custom Cycles, a sideline business to his auto shop, to address the growing list of bike orders. Renzi’s bike shop has swollen to the point where he almost wants to close the auto bays and concentrate solely on bikes. We can only encourage this sort of behavior.

But it's not as if 1WILDSTAR is sitting up on a lift somewhere being coddled. Renzi's put more than 53,000 hard miles on his bike, riding to as many shows as he can squeeze in. As we were conducting the interview, Renzi was telling us what a blast he'd had at the Star Days rally in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and invited us to meet him at the upcoming Laughlin River Run. We suppose all this riding around is to check out the competition, or perhaps it's the pure joy of the open road. Either way, Antonio Renzi has found the best of both worlds—and it's a place without theories, just applications.