2003 Yamaha R1
The Rum Runner
Ant Racing's camera system.
Now there's a hot taillight.
An engraved reservoir cover adds a touch of class.
Drunk little devil
Where's the party at?
There are plenty of female sportbikers out there ripping up the roads and carving the canyons, but we don't come across too many ladies who build their ride into a rolling Bacardi billboard like this R1. We figured Thomas probably either works for Bacardi or is a bar owner with close ties to the firm, but it's a lot simpler than that-she just loves the hootch.
She made a dangerous winter journey from her home in Norfolk, Virginia, over to Gator Customs in Chicago to get her bike ready for the 2007 Daytona Bike Week, and during the winter journey, a blizzard bit her bike. Her 2003 Yamaha was in the back of her pickup, and a large piece of ice that flew off a semitruck wiped out the tail section. It wasn't that big of a deal because much of the bike needed to be reworked anyway, but the very fact that she braved the elements shows her strong passion and desire to get the thing built.
Randy Kleber at Gator Customs explained the meeting: "When she finally made it here, we sat and talked for hours. Originally, she wanted to do an extended arm and fat tire, but we agreed that a Gregg's Customs single-sided swingarm would be better for the style and amount of riding she does, while still having a custom look.
"Branyel wanted Gator Glass worked into the Bacardi theme, and we planned out a design and then worked the mock-up back and forth until she liked it. She basically just loves Bacardi!"
After Thomas explained her background a bit, the Bacardi theme made perfect sense: "I love black and red and kinda wanted to stick with those colors. I've never been a real girly girl-no flowers and pink stuff. I've always had a fascination with vampires and bats, and I'm a big Bacardi drinker. Back in the day, when everyone was drinking beer at keg parties, I was the chick walking around with a brown bag and a Slurpee."
The Gator crew dug into the project vehemently, as the deadline for making Daytona was just 20 days away and approaching fast. Ironically, the same blizzard that tried to thwart the project was actually now assisting production because, by burying the city in snow, the staff at Gator could focus on the task at hand: making a stock R1 into an all-out booze-cruising beauty.
Kleber and company began by modifying the gas tank to allow a larger and more workable canvas for their patented Gator Glass glow. The tail section was also reworked, not only for the addition of more Gator Glass, but also to repair the damage from the flying ice grenade.
With the Gator Glass, bodywork and paint taken care of there were still a few days to spare to fit the swingarm and Ducati rear wheel assembly and custom exhaust. Though the Gregg's Customs assembly is largely a bolt-on application, there are always minor nuisances to be dealt with. The same held true for the Micron GP-style exhaust that had to be modified from its intended R6 application-but the end results were clearly worth the late nights slugging it out at the shop.
Drinking and riding are, of course, frowned upon, but there's no harm in taking a little with you. Thomas' passion for her drink of choice is overshadowed by her love of custom bikes, and what better way to mix the two? The R1 is a fancy cocktail of innovative design and performance that we'd love to have a sip of.
The Buyer's Box
2003 Yamaha R1
Front end: Steel braided lines
Rear end: Gregg's Customs swingarm and Ducati wheel, Brembo reservoir and caliper, steel braided line
Motor: Micron R6 exhaust,Power Commander
Paint: Gator Customs
Bodywork: Gator Glass throughout, custom front fender
Accessories: Ant Racing camera, engraved reservoir covers, Gregg's Customs plate bracket, Altered Chrome heel guards
Builder: Gator Customs
Owner: Branyel Thomas