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Real Moto Co's 1981 Yamaha XS400

Real Moto Co's 1981 Yamaha XS400
By Dime City Cycles September 29, 2016 10 comments

It's hard to believe by the looks of it but this is the first full custom bike ever built by Dan Stabbings and Jacob Speis. What started as an evening welding session on the tail hoop of Jacob's personal project bike - and the enjoyment of a few brews - turned into Real Moto Co.

Inspired by the custom motorcycle scene, Stabbings, a structural steel fabricator (think hotels, business complexes, "big shit!") and Speis, the lead graphic designer for Relapse Records, took their respective skill sets and applied them to building a brand with motorcycles as the soul.


The 1981 Yamaha XS400 started out as a $600 Craigslist find picked up in the Allentown, PA area, not far from RMC's home base. It had been stored outside, didn't start but had good compression and only 9,000 miles on the odometer. In the end, it was only a cracked ignition unit that kept it from running. "The seat looked like it had been reupholstered in the dark by a child," Stabbings said.


The original intention was to freshen it up and flip it for a profit, but “things quickly spiraled out of control," Stabbings said. Countless late nights and 300 hours of painstaking toiling later and RMC 001 was the end result. "Starting something new and putting yourself out there is scary. We had been talking for years about starting something else, something new. This clicked." They're not quitting their day jobs and “if it stays fun and we’re not wasting a bunch of money I would be fine with that."


After resealing the motor they added oversized jets, pod filters and designed a custom-routed stainless two into one exhaust (with TIG help from Matt Rad). Stabbings hand formed the slugs and cowl, which "was a bit of a spur of the moment choice, but we felt it really helps the visual flow, and the added rigidity is noticeable in the tail end. We ditched the rather ugly late tank and side covers in favor of pieces from a ’79 model."


The paint and design is a combination of Yamaha's racing heritage pattern and the colors from a Volkswagen MK2 they had (the pair met each other years ago as VW enthusiasts). The bodywork was painted by Jay Lehrmann and the seat was upholstered by Ginger of Oregon's New Church Moto.

"The goal for this bike was a classically minimal, race-inspired look," Stabbings said. "We take pride in the fact that, at first glance, it can look like a relatively mild custom. We ended up with what we wanted. It's not too nice that you're afraid to whip the shit out of it."


Here are just a few of the many Dime City Cycles parts used on the Real Moto Co Yamaha.

  • Progressive Vintage 12 Series Eye to Eye gas charged shocks
  • Chrome mini 2.5" speedometer with Odometer and LED
  • DCC Vintage Universal rear sets
  • Aluminum headlight brackets
  • Black H4 headlight assembly
  • Flexible LED integrated tail light / indicators

Instagram: @realmotoco


Photos by: Jedidiah Harley

Drew September 29, 2016 at 8:06 AM
WOW,those few pics with the bike sitting up on that wall,are just INCREDIBLE looking!!! Would LOVE to know how You were able to get that thing UP THERE like that!?!? LOL. But NOT knowing that,is just as good!!! Great job Guys!!!
Stabbings September 29, 2016 at 9:20 AM
At the end of that wall out of frame it's only about a foot high. Lifted the front and then the rear up and walked it out. Thanks for the good words on the photos.
Mule September 29, 2016 at 9:12 AM
LOVE the taillights/signals off the rear shock towers like that. So no front signals then, rear only, or are my eyes that old?

Love how simple, clean & flowing the lines are...really great looking bike.
Stabbings September 29, 2016 at 9:57 AM
If you look closely at the front on the tank and then DOWN you'll see the matching style front turns. They are smoked lenses and hard to see when not lit up, which was the point. Thanks for the good words man!
Tom Meisenheimer September 29, 2016 at 11:24 AM
Very nice job over all. As for the turn signals; if ya gotta run with them your ideas on placement are a great way to go. The '56 Triumph I'm about to launch didn't have them (natch!) so Missouri doesn't require them. Safety issue? well with all the idiots texting instead of driving do they see you anyway? Of course the other question is: do they even know what a hand signal is? Have you run across any earlier Yamahas as 2 strokes? Back in my day they had a bitchin' reed valve 250 that a local wrench, Cliff Watson, modified into a very quick cafe bike. I think they made a 350 as well. On our sunday morning ride, small displacement 2 strokes were the preferred bike for riding the coastal highway from Frisco to Stinson Beach. Made the Dragon's Tail seem tame!
Ed Balls September 29, 2016 at 12:30 PM
Simplicity , form and function, this bike has it in spades. Possibly my favorite build I've seen this year. Super job.
Stabbings October 3, 2016 at 7:26 AM
Damn. Thanks a ton.
Jimbo September 30, 2016 at 3:46 AM
What saddle and seat pan is that? I really like it and is it long enough for a second rider? Beautiful bike...
Stabbings October 3, 2016 at 7:48 AM
I made the pan and sent it out to New Church Moto for the padding and upholstery. Highly recommend her work. Great prices and good turn around time. Thanks for the good words.
Chris May 25, 2017 at 11:04 PM
Beautiful bike, I'm curious about the wheels. My 81' XS400 has mag wheels. I'd love to find some spoked. Were your's on the bike or did you find them somewhere?