Most custom builders don’t enjoy messing with electrics: they’ll install a lithium-ion battery to save weight and leave it at that. More adventurous workshops might rip out the fuses and install a control box like the Motogadget m-Unit.
Jose and Tito of Macco Motors have just gone one step further. To satisfy a client’s rather odd request, they’ve removed the entire electric start system from their latest build. To fire up this XS400, you need good old-fashioned muscle.
“Hans wanted a café racer based on the three-cylinder Yamaha XS750,” explains Jose, “but he was having a tough time finding a suitable donor. A lot of classic bikes didn’t make it to Spain in the glory years.”
The Macco lads settled on a 1978-spec XS400 A2A in good condition, and fitted a XS750 fuel tank. Then came Hans’ unusual request. “He wanted us to replace and relocate the battery,” says Jose, “and a few days later asked us to remove the starting system electrics—leaving only the kick start. He wondered if it was possible, and we said yes.”
Macco called in a friend to help: ex-MotoGP mechanic Sergio Pitencel, who worked with Carlos Checa and Roberto Puig in the Honda team in the ’90s. “He’s a wise man from whom we learnt a lot.”
The battery was removed and the circuit converted from DC to AC. Two control modules were then made up: one for the starter system and another one for the lights, which are powered by a small 8Ah Lithium-ion battery from Ballistic.
An adjustable voltage regulator also had to be made up, and the coils were replaced with smaller items taken from a jet-ski. (That’s not even the full list of mods, but the rest will only be of interest to electricians.)
After clearing the electrical obstacles, the rest of the build was pretty straightforward.
Spoked wheels were on the brief. So the standard 18-inch mags were ditched, replaced by SR250 rims—19 inches at the front and 18 at the rear. After fabricating a new front axle, Macco installed classic Hagon shocks and fitted Metzeler Lasertec rubber.
The tuned engine now breathes through a pair of K&N filters and shorty mufflers. There’s a chopped subframe and a very neat fiberglass tail section with a license plate support.
The finishing touches are typically classy. Inverted Tarozzi semi-elevated clip-ons are wrapped in brown leather grips to match the seat—a detail that’s repeated on the kick-start lever and gear shifter. Hooked into the new electric circuit are a new analogue speedo and tacho, mini turn signals and a 6.5-inch headlight.
The XS, now christened “Dark Bullet”, was then finished in a typically Macco fashion: matte black and raw steel, punctuated by gold pinstripes. Everything has been refinished, including the engine, wheels and frame, and it’s right on the button.
Except there’s no button. You just have to use your leg to start it.