‘Playa del Rey’ by Matt Black Customs

Published June 14, 2015

Over the past few months we’ve some awesome customs coming out under the Yamaha ‘Yard Built’ banner and this latest offering from Matt Black Customs is no different. They’ve taken a Yamaha XV950 and turned it into something else altogether. If you’re a fan of Board Track style racers, then this, my friend, is for you. The Yamaha Yardbuilt idea is all about taking standard production machines to the custom pros, allowing them to work their magic and eventually produce bolt on kits for the Yamaha market. We’ve seen ‘It roCkS!bikes’ turn an XJR1300 into a stunning café racer, we’ve seen JvB-moto convert a VMAX into a sports bike but never before have we seen a XV950 reborn as a board track racer.


As a donor bike, it’s hard to imagine the latest XV950 V-twin, bobber styled machine as the perfect frame for a board track custom but Matt Black customs have done it. Stripping away the (so-called) ‘neo-retro Japanese look’ and adding a healthy dose of custom engineering, Matt Black Customs have uncovered more than a glimpse of a classic racer hiding away underneath.


The Yard Built banner has already reached out to some of the best builders in the world, including those listed above and the likes of Wrench Monkees and Marcus Walz to name but a few more. This time, Yamaha Europe took a trip down to Spain and paid Matt Black Custom garage of San Pedro a visit. Already well known for their ability to create retro machines with modern comforts, Matt Black were the ideal choice for this build and here’s what they’ve built; it’s called the ‘Playa del Rey’ and it’s simply stunning.


It’s hard to find any traces of Yamaha’s original cruiser in there, save for the factory standard engine, complete with the same black finish and the stock XV950 exhaust (although even that has been paired with a new MIVV Ghibli silencer!). The tank’s been swapped out and replaced with a handmade unit from Matt Black’s Anthony Partridge and topped with a special fuel cap from Crafty B. To compensate for the newly positioned (upside down) drop handlebars, the Rebufini switchgear was also remapped to suit to the new riding position. Aside from the on board tech, not a lot of the original seems to remain!


Like all Yard Built machines, the essential components of this build have been designed to be ‘bolt on’ only. The end goal for the build is to produce kits for us mere mortals to buy and simply bolt on ourselves at home, should we feel the need, without having to get our hands dirty with a grinder or MIG welder. With that in mind, if you’re in need of a change, you’ll want to pick up some new 21inch rims, plexiglass cam gear covers, a cushion drive rear pulley and a few more bespoke parts.


Up front, Matt Black have replaced the stock front end with a Rebufini springer fork and the rear shocks have been swapped out for a set of Ohlins. To give the bike a bit of extra braking power, the calipers have been replaced with a set of PMs. Another addition (although the photographs don’t show it well enough) is a mesh covering at the front – to many, it looks like a sure fire way to cook an engine but take a closer look – it’s a mesh type of thing and air will get through!


Aesthetically, the paint job is superb and takes its inspiration directly from the golden age of board track racing. It’s iconic and fuses the past and present in a simple, yet elegant way.


The Yamaha Yard Built publicity stunt is a gift that keeps on giving, showcasing the best custom built bikes from some of the most talented builders. It might seem a bit ‘corporate’ to a lot of custom aficionados out there but any bike built with care and attention is one worth mentioning, in my opinion!


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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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