Despite having a population of almost ten million people—more that Denmark or Switzerland—Hungary has a pretty low profile on the European custom scene. Maybe it’s because the country is tucked away in Central Europe. Or maybe Hungarians hide their lights under a bushel.
Judging by this very sharp custom Yamaha TR1, however, there’s at least one Hungarian workshop that deserves an international profile. Based in Budapest, it’s called Neuga and it’s run by three BMX fanatics.
The detailing and proportions are spot-on, which is just as well: Neuga’s commission came from one of Hungary’s best-known interior designers, Peter Szendrő.
“Peter is pretty precise,” says Neuga’s Benedek Eszteri wryly. “He took part in the whole process, from day one until the end. It was two years of tears and joy until 981 was handed over.”
Two years is a long time for a custom build, but Benedek is sanguine. “After you’ve built a few bikes, you stop running after dreams and become aware of reality. After the fifteenth month, we still had major changes.”
At the start of the build, Benedek and his colleagues Dániel and Róbert focused on the 75-degree V-twin. “We needed a fully refurbished and trusty heart. So we measured everything and changed the rings, oil pump, cam chains, camshafts, and all of the gaskets and o-rings.”
They also refurbished the cylinder head, and polished and painted all the cases.
The next job on the list was a frontend upgrade, for better handling and performance. A Yamaha R1 setup was chosen, but after the bike was mocked-up, the crew realized they needed an extra 100mm on top—to provide enough clearance for the wheel and the exhaust/engine.
“A former Hungarian motorsport legend handmade a top yoke for us,” says Benedek . “It also has proper support for the headlight and gauges. (Rest in peace, Károly.)”
Chunky tires were part of the game plan, but the stock wheels would not play ball. “We had to switch to a wider rims. We found a Suzuki GSX1000 hub and rim that would do the job, so we machined spacers from aluminum, machined the hub itself for a better look, and laced the wheels with stainless spokes.”
The back end of the original frame is now gone, replaced by new tubing that matches the lines of the gas tank. An LED light is now integrated into the hand-drilled back tube. (“That was quite a torture.”)
There’s a whole new electric loom, with a Motogadget m.unit at the core and new wiring from nose to tail. The keyless ignition is juiced from a 12-cell Antigravity battery in a laser cut holder.
More visible is the custom 2-to-1 stainless steel exhaust system, with squared-off lines terminating in a flared muffler. “It has enough back pressure, and a pretty wild sound,” Benedek reports. “It’s mellow at low RPMs, but gets brutal as you twist the grip.”
After sitting on a shelf for eight months, the gas tank was finally re-sealed from the inside, finished with dark smoke-chrome effect paint, and returned to the TR1.
A stunning ribbed seat with just the right amount of length completes the look without drawing too much attention to itself.
The weak rear drum brake was swapped out for a more modern hydraulic disk system, and the monoshock was upgraded to a new unit from Wilbers—preset for the weight of the bike and its owner. “At first it felt stiff, but after a preload adjustment it’s ‘there’.”
In between all the major stylistic work, Neuga machined up multiple little pieces, polished others, and perfected the ergonomics and electronics for their demanding client.
“It was a hell of a learning curve,” says Benedek.
But as Jane Fonda wisely counseled, “No pain, no gain.” And in this case, it was surely worth the pain: ‘981’ is one of the best-looking V-twin Yamaha builds we’ve seen in recent years.