Yamaha Royal Stars - Shimmering Stars

A pair of dazzling Yamaha Royal Stars. From the February 1997 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

NEWS FLASH: Cruiser riders like to customize their bikes. Okay, so you've known it all along, but Japanese motorcycle manufacturers seem to have finally accepted this fact, which Harley-Davidson has known for a long time. Acting on this new-found knowledge, OEM accessories are being developed and sold for bikes, like Yamaha's flagship Royal Star, at an unprecedented rate.

In passing on this knowledge to dealers, the manufacturers are offering one other kernel of wisdom: Custom bikes on the showroom floor not only attract buyers that stockers won't, but they'll also help sell accessories and stock bikes.

John Vaughan-Chaldy, owner of MotoPro, a Yamaha, BMW, and Honda dealership in Oceanside, California, has believed in keeping customs in his showroom for quite a while. At the time he built the Royal Stars featured here, a BMW R850R in GS trim and a Virago 535 with drag bars, custom exhaust, and about 25 pounds less fat were also displayed in his showroom.

The purpose of building them was to spark buyers' imaginations, to open them up to the possibilities of how they can make their bikes stand out and make a statement. The Royal Stars were no exception.

Green Dream

The no-holds-barred Royal Star show bike Vaughan-Chaldy planned to build for Yamaha would sport as many bolt-on accessories as possible, and where the accessories didn't exist, they would be created. He also planned to highlight a low, long, lean look for the Royal Star. After six weeks of labor, the result is a $32,000 show bike Vaughan-Chaldy dubbed Green Dream.

The paint is the first thing to grab your attention. Vaughan-Chaldy trusts painter Robert Prayther so implicitly that his only instructions were to create a paint scheme that would turn heads from 100 yards, and be completely different from any other paint job around. Prayther, who blends all his own paint colors, used shapes in candy green and violet on a background of candy red to highlight the long look of the bike and imply motion even when standing still. To make the bike even more striking, Prayther separated the major colors--green and red--with silver stripes and gold pinstriping on either side. The violet swooshes also received gold pinstripes around them. Prayther included a subtle but stylish touch of violet and gold on the plastic cover under the gas-tank mounts behind the steering head, adding some life to what was essentially a black hole in the stock trim. The radiator shrouds get brought into the bike's new look with a coat of candy green. Finally, the removable fins get a coat of green to unite the entire color scheme.

Lowering Green Dream 1.5 inches in the front and 1.4 inches in the rear assisted the low look. Next, a little leanness needed to be cultivated. Dew Manufacturing's stock-width triple-clamp grips the stock fork. Topping those new legs, a White Brothers Beach Bar combined with stock controls and Ness grips took much of the bulk away from the front end. A pair of Headwinds headlights provide a good look and nighttime visibility while smaller, more centrally located turn signals minimize front-end clutter. Believing that shininess lightens the look of the front end, Vaughan-Chaldy had everything that wasn't billet--from the nuts and bolts to the fork lowers--chromed. Every wire, cable, and hose was covered with braided stainless steel to keep from showing any of that unsightly black stuff.

The OEM cast front wheel was swapped with a custom-built stainless-steel spoke 4.00 x 16 wheel from Landmark Manufacturing. The 80 pearl spokes allow more daylight to get through the wheel. Smaller front rotors and hubs were chosen to keep the view from being obstructed. Vaughn-Chaldy says the stock caliper mounts could still be utilized. Slick Aeromach billet caliper covers complete the lines of the fender, while the grooves enhance the feeling of motion created by the paint and link the covers with the other billet pieces on the bike. Avon whitewall tires complete the front end's transformation.

Green Dream's engine bay received extensive visual modifications. Although the stock Royal Star comes with a shiny, eye-catching engine, Vaughan-Chaldy wanted to accentuate the engine's strong visual points with a combination of off-the-rack Yamaha parts and one-off tidbits. Darkening the engine's fins with green paint makes the chrome and billet touches stand out. The already brilliant bottom end received Yamaha motor-mount covers and an Aeromach billet water-pump cover. Just behind the engine on the right side, Aeromach's trick prototype billet horn cover adds a swoopy styling touch, but not all of the part's beauty is visible. The cover has a resonating chamber machined into the back of it to match the Yamaha plastic part it replaced, keeping the stock sound intact. The space between the engine's V is brightened with Yamaha's ball-milled billet breather cover.

The top end's cam covers form a crescent of chrome arcing over the engine with the exception of the open space where the carburetors reside under the tank. Vaughn-Chaldy asked the folks at Aeromach if they could do something to remedy this problem in a bolt-on manner. The requirements of simple bracketry and retaining the stock choke-knob location made the fabrication difficult. Vaughn-Chaldy even sent Aeromach a spare Royal Star to have on hand in their shop while puzzling out the details. Aeromach finally settled for a setup as elegant as the carb cover itself. The covers attach to the carburetors using special long bolts and the threads already machined into the carbs to hold on the vacuum chamber covers.

Other shiny bits in the neighborhood of the engine include Yamaha's billet floorboard and shifter covers. Yamaha's billet passenger pegs and plates add some shine, although the custom-built Corbin solo seat makes no provisions for a passenger's backside.

The gas tank received a great deal of attention. The ugly plastic strap covering the seam in the tank's center was removed, and the seam was filled and ground down, giving the tank a blemish-free surface for Prayther to paint. A Landmark Renegade gas cap replaces the bulky-looking stock cap with a flat-polished stainless one. Green Dream's stock taillight was removed and the hole filled. A beehive taillight now resides at the top of the fender's flare. Tiny turn signals don't clutter up the rear end's look. The two-piece solid rear wheel--a one-off part from Jim's Aero Glide Racing--adds some brawn to the back end. Once again, an Aeromach caliper cover highlights the lines of the fender.

While this project has primarily focused on dressing up the Royal Star, some functional modifications were made. The forks contain Race Tech's Gold Valve cartridge emulators, which should vastly improve the front end's suppleness while not compromising firmness over the road. Plans for rear-suspension modifications are in the works. Not only do the Beach Bars look nice, but they also improve low-speed maneuverability and drop your shoulders into a more comfortable riding position. MotoPro straight pipes give the Royal Star some grunt at the risk of annoying anyone in the vicinity of where the bike is being ridden.

Green Dream fulfills its mission of attracting attention wherever it goes while showcasing current and future accessories for the Royal Star. The proof of this bike's success comes from the crowds that gathered around it at the Yamaha dealer show and the fact that, when it returned to MotoPro, a customer walked into the dealership, saw the bike, and refused to leave without buying it. Angelo Damante, owner of Escondido Motors, Ltd. Mercedes Benz, would not accept Vaughan-Chaldy's explanation that the bike was not his to sell. After many phone calls with Yamaha representatives, a deal was struck: Damante could buy the bike if Yamaha could still display it periodically.

Yellow Fever

The yellow Royal Star, named Yellow Fever by the folks at MotoPro, received a different treatment to achieve slightly different goals. Believing that having custom bikes in the showroom sells stock bikes, Vaughan-Chaldy created a bike to show what a motivated owner could do with a Royal Star. The look--fat, muscle-bound, and squatty--comes with a somewhat more attainable $25,000 price.

As a starting point, Vaughan-Chaldy turned, once again, to Prayther for an eye-catching paint job. Since the goal for this bike was to see it roll out the showroom door with a proud new owner, a bright yellow paint scheme with the ever-popular flames was lavished on the bike. The flames are candy blue fading to pearl green and outlined with dark magenta pinstripes. The calipers, disc hubcaps, radiator shrouds, upper fork covers, and the switch gear all display themselves in yellow. The engine's fins received a coat of satin black for a subdued shine, and the fin edges were polished.

Many of the basic modifications of Green Dream are reflected in Yellow Fever. The handlebars were changed to Beach Bars supported by Aeromach Eight Ball risers which were machined to fit the stock Royal Star triple clamp. The cables received the same braided-steel slip covers as Green Dream. Ness grips give the rider something to hold on to. Corbin's Gunfighter seat bolts on with the subtle touch of black flames sewn on the black leather. The pretty but loud MotoPro pipes make an encore performance. Yamaha's billet breather cover reappears but without the ball-milled grooves in its surface. Most bolts and other mounting gadgets were chromed.

Yellow Fever stands out in the headlight department. Vaughan-Chaldy had Ray Neff, Jr., whose father fabricates custom frames for famed Harley builder Pat Kennedy, form two stock Royal Star headlights to create a custom headlight that builds upon the stocker's appeal. The front piece, including all the mounting bracketry, was cut off the bucket, and 1.75 inches of steel was welded to the front of the bucket. The front was cut out of the second headlight and welded onto the newly lengthened bucket. A hood was welded on the rim before the whole assembly took a dip in a chrome bath. Although the stock lens could have been used, a seven-inch Headwinds tribar lens was dropped in for a unique look. Finally, a yellow 55/65 bulb completed the yellow motif.

Like Green Dream, Yellow Fever had its gas tank cleaned up but in a much tricker way. While the tank's center was being welded out to give the smooth finish Vaughan-Chaldy wanted, the gas-filler mouth was cut out, and a Dew flush-mount gas cap was installed. The result is an almost unblemished surface for Prayther to work his magic with the flames. Only the polished tab used to open the tank calls attention to the cap.

Prayther influenced several other parts of Yellow Fever's look. He shortened both the front and rear stock turn signals about two inches each. In the rear, he had the license plate moved 0.75 inch higher on the fender and moved the taillight 1.75 inches higher. Shortening the distance between the plate and the taillight and moving the light higher makes the pieces look smaller and the fender look bigger and longer. Under the stock fenders, the stock cast wheels hide behind prototype Yamaha wheel disks, giving a solid-wheel look without retiring the stock rims. One of three planned styles, the wheel covers should be publicly available by the time you read this. Of course, Vaughan-Chaldy wasn't content with leaving the wheel covers as is. He had them chromed.

By keeping most of the lines of a stock Royal Star, Yellow Fever looks familiar at first glance, but a closer look reveals more than just a nice custom paint job. The changes to the bike are subtle and create an air of distinction. Since Yellow Fever was sold to Jerry Gravo of Jerry Gravo Construction while this article was being written, Vaughan-Chaldy says the bike is a success in his book.

When asked what he would do differently with these two bikes, Vaughan-Chaldy replies, "Nothing." He then laughs and adds that maybe he wouldn't cover all of the hoses and cables on the carburetors with braided steel since they're completely hidden from view by the tank. But his mind is already puzzling over a custom Valkyrie. With a gleam in his eye, he talks of building one custom a month on a per-order basis. From the way Green Dream and Yellow Fever look, you better get your order in soon, or you may have to wait in a vefry long line.

Editor's note: Since this was originally printed, John Vaughan-Chaldy has gone on to found Baron Custom Accessories, which specializes in custom Yamaha cruisers. It is listed in the Resources section.


11423-B Woodside Ave.,
Santee, CA 92071
(800)990-9392, (619)258-5443

P.O. Box 336, Edmonds,
WA 98020
(800)624-7470, (206)771-2115

Baron Custom Accessories
311 Suite 1 Industrial Way
Fallbrook, CA 92028

11445 Commercial Pkwy.,
Castroville, CA 95012
(800)535-7035, (800)223-4332

Dew Manufacturing, Inc.
1970 Peacock Blvd.,
Oceanside, CA 92056; (800)47-CYCLE

Headwinds Cycle Products
P.O. Box 66-1213
Arcadia CA 91066

Jim's Aero Glide Racing, LTD.
8086 Alexander Rd.
Delta, BC, Canada Z4G 1C6

Landmark Manufacturing Inc.
4112 Avenida De La Plata
Oceanside, CA 92056

MotoPro, Inc.
1425 S. Coast Highway
Oceanside, CA 92054

Prayther's Watercraft and Motorcycle Repair
2115 E. Valley Pkwy., Ste. E
Escondido, CA 92027

Race Tech
3227 Producer Way, No. 127
Pomona, CA 91768

White Brothers
24845 Corbit Pl.
Yorba Linda, CA 92687

Evans Brasfield is the former Associate Editor of Motorcycle Cruiser. You can find his website at www.EvansBrasfield.com.

For more articles on custom bikes and articles about how to customize and modify your motorcycle, see the Custom Section of MotorcycleCruiser.com.

Aeromach's billet carb cover fills the dead spot under the tank.
By inserting a rubber insert in the stock tank, the Landmark Renegade cap can be used without metal fabrication.