Futuristic Café-Racer: ’99 Yamaha R1 by Lazareth

This 1999 R1 Cafe Racer From Lazareth Looks Like A Sci-Fi Prop!

Updated August 19, 2018

Whenever we see a Lazareth motorcycle, we’re always blown away. Last time, Lazereth brought us an incredible Maserati V8 powered behemoth, but this time we’ve got something a little more familiar: a 1999 Yamaha R1. We already know and love the engine…but it’s the whole package that’s really caught our eye this time. It’s weird, it’s wonderful, and it’s certainly original. Ludovic Lazareth has done it again… You can always rely on the Frenchman to throw you a curveball.

1999 R1 Cafe Racer 1

Designer, engineer, rider, and all round good guy, Lazareth’s work has been featured in a wide range of mediums. His builds have appeared on France’s Top Gear, his bikes often feature in major publications, and he’s often designing and conceiving ideas for other top brands. In a quote that we’ve shamelessly lifted from BikeExif, he explained his motivation: “You are not free if you can’t make what you want with your hands. It’s not enough for me to go on the road with a bike to feel free—I feel free when I build a bike. I want to shape what I want… sorry for the purists!”

1999 R1 Cafe Racer 2

And this bike is one of his own pet projects styled around his own concept of freedom, but it comes with an unusual history. Back in 2008, Lazareth was commissioned to customize several motorcycles for the rather mediocre sci-fi flick Babylon A.D – the Vin Diesel movie, not the late-80s glam rock band from San Francisco. Like most movie-prop bikes, this particular Yamaha R1 was crashed as part of the filming. So, it was customized, crashed…and now rebuilt, and further re-custom’d…Get your head around that! It sounds like a lot of effort, but we’re glad that Ludovic put the hours in.

1999 R1 Cafe Racer 3

The 1999 R1 has been completely rebuilt. It’s more of a future café racer now than it ever was in the movie. The chassis had to be completely revised, since the Yamaha had already been gutted for its parts for a few of Lazareth’s other builds. The front forks were long gone, so Ludovic decided to give the whole front system an overhaul, and engineer a front swing-arm setup instead. It’s wild, but it works. Both swing-arms are sprung with custom-made TFX Suspension shocks, and the rear has been equipped with a floating linkage system. It also holds onto a 17” wheel from a Triumph Daytona 955.

1999 R1 Cafe Racer 4

To accommodate the new dual swing-arm system, the frame had to support some serious modifications. Where material has been added at the front, the rear was chopped down somewhat. Rather than supporting a more traditional tailpiece, Lazareth decided to install a small carbon fiber tail hump, which leads onto the incredibly eye-catching exhaust that pokes out from the rear. The exhaust is rather impressive too: there’s a series of LEDs embedded into the can that serve as the tail light. Which is pretty damn awesome, when you think about it.

1999 R1 Cafe Racer 5

But back to the stubby tail, it’s not the only carbon fiber unit on the R1. The belly pan is also made from carbon fiber, and the outer shell of the gas tank has also been formed from carbon. Under the carbon fiber, the tank is made from aluminum. The tank has actually been designed to sit at a slight angle, so where it meets the seat, the rider can get a good look at the furious velocity stacks sitting in pride of place by their knees.

Naturally, Lazareth also added a wide range of top-shelf upgrades to the project to ensure that it performs as well as it looks. Brembo brakes handle the stopping duties, a smattering of Rizoma parts are spread across the build. Drag bars and bard end mirrors have been thrown into the equation too, as well as a digital speedo from Acewell.

1999 R1 Cafe Racer 6

It’s got the look, it’s got the parts, but how does it perform? Well, according to the guys at BikeExif, it handles as good as any other sportsbike on the road. However, if you’re looking to command attention as well as dominate the corners, then this is truly a winning combination. And you can invest in this winning combo too, as Mr. Lazareth has said that he’ll part with it for as little as €50,000 (or $53,000).

1999 R1 Cafe Racer 7

Even though it’s a Lazareth original and a former star of the silver screen, the price point is probably a little too steep to tempt the average rider, sadly. But if you’re desperate for a Lazareth of your own – perhaps you should pass on this offer, and save your pennies for the Maserati powered machine instead?


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Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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