Way up in rural New England, in the tree-lined village of Lee, New Hampshire, resides a small custom shop called Razor Unlimited, owned by a young guy named Mark Coop. He reads Super Streetbike, rides dirt bikes on the land out behind his shop, loves sportbikes and has a head full of ideas about customizing them.
The problem with being in a remote part of the U.S. is getting your name out. Every start-up shop needs customers to commission the build of custom projects because, unlike the big-name builders, the guys just getting in on the ground floor can't just pour a shopping bag full of money into a bike and assume it will sell itself. This is why customer Steve Carignan, the owner of the Razor-built 2002 Yamaha YZF-R1 shown here, has become such an integral part of Razor Unlimited's success.
Carignan had already done a couple of modifications to his beloved R1 before he handed it over to Coop. He'd fitted a nitrous oxide system and had his standard swingarm extended, though like most bike people, he had plans for more. So, as the nights became darker with winter just around the corner, Carignan took the bike into Razor Unlimited with the intention of getting an air-shifter fitted, and somehow things snowballed from there.
"Every week Steve would have a new idea," Coop explains, "and it would be my job to figure out how to make it happen." As an example, the original NOS system hadn't been installed very well, so Coop dreamed up a much better arrangement and put it in place. Instead of an accessory button to deliver the nitrous to the motor, Coop reconfigured an arrangement where the system was activated by a micro-switch that was engaged at wide-open throttle. Then Coop came up with a trick nitrous purge that exited through the mirror blanks and wired it so that the turn-signal cancel button would activate the purge (when pressed for a couple of seconds); no ugly aftermarket switches would have to be fitted.
Finally, there was the small issue of the NOS bottle placement. The original kit attached them with a two-dollar clip, and that wasn't gonna fly! Instead, Coop hand-fabricated some undertail "wings" from alloy and recessed the two bottles perfectly into the sides. Then he faired in the plastic undertail that Carignan had already fitted to the bike to retain the turn signals. Coop also molded a tiny rearview camera into the undertail and made the rear seat cowl from alloy too. He did such a fine job forming these pieces that at shows spectators and judges both often demand he remove the seat and prove it's no longer plastic underneath! In addition to all the craftsmanship bestowed on the tail, the fuel tank got lots of love too. Molded into the top of the tank just ahead of the gas cap is a video monitor that does double duty as a display for the rearview camera and also for a video iPod mounted under the saddle. The surrounds for the camera and monitor were made by Rick Rynerson of Mobile Sound Services and blended into the bodywork by Coop.
While all this bodywork was being done, the frame, subframe, engine covers, forks, levers, grips and a newly purchased pair of big bucks, Italian-made Marchesini wheels were all sent out for chroming. At the same time, Coop delivered some specs to Gregg DesJardins of Gregg's Customs in Campbell, California, who fabricated the stunning, single-sided swingarm with an integrated air tank for the air shifter. The end result is a single-sided arm, six inches longer than standard, with hidden brake lines, too. An on-board air compressor under the tailsection pressurizes the tank, with an auto start/stop feature that engages the compressor when pressure drops below 80 psi and cuts it off at 100 psi. Coop also created the stunning, one-off custom underseat exhaust, from mandrel-bent tubing and a clever, built-from-sheet, dual-wing muffler with rolled outlets.
About the only thing that Coop and Razor didn't tackle on this R1 was the paint. This essential finishing touch was entrusted to Tom McNeil Jr. at interestingly named Bonehead Designs in Farmington, New Hampshire, who laid down a dramatic candy-apple red basecoat covered with Orion silver tribal graphics.o just as springtime in the Northeast had finally started winning the war against winter and the sun was radiating enough warmth to melt away the dirty remnants of the season's last snow, the R1 was ready to roll out of the small workshop. Pretty amazing, considering that this bike just went in for an air shifter and came out as a full custom-one that's capable of standing up against anything from any of the bigger, better-known custom shops. Respect to Coop and the rest of his crew at Razor Unlimited, a small shop in the far reaches of the Northeast that reminds us that skill and creativity aren't exclusive to the bigger players.
What are you going to do this winter?