You could describe Wendy Clarkson’s NWS-framed YamahaTRX850 as a limited edition. However just one fewer would make it a one-off.That the only other example also resides inWendy’s garage and is the property of her husband Chris points to the rarity of this special.
- Make your bike to fit you and do what you want it to do. The little things are the important things and they all contribute to comfort, safety and enjoyment.
- Don’t be afraid to evolve your build in the weeks, months and even years that follow. I’ve changed the exhausts and the rearsets and even though I’m more than happy with it at the moment, you never know what ideas might come next.
- A project pulls you in. Don’t let it make you become more of a builder than a rider unless that’s what you’re really into. When you modify a bike you have to get to know it again. You become your own factory testers
Not that there’s any shortage of less- exclusiveTRX specials.Yamaha’s quirky, Latin-influenced 270° parallel twin is a popular choice for specials builders, the parts-bin character of its semi-naked design making it an especially attractive base for many and varied reworks. Few are as rare as this, however.
You don’t need to be aTRX aficionado to recognise that the NWS frame with its oversize aluminium tubing is not the standardYamaha steel trellis.Which makes it all the stranger to note that the last owner of the bike failed to mention its special chassis when they listed it on eBay back in 2010.Wendy knew what it was straight away as her hubby has owned his example from new. “All the ad said was that it was a yellow 1996YamahaTRX850. It was yellow alright; a sticker-covered rattle-can repaint that really was not my cup of tea at all,” she says.
NWS was the engineering concern of Simon Martin, also known to Performance Bikes readers as Enid Puceflange and one of the great British innovators of the motorcycle aftermarket. Not long after the launch of the TRX, Simon was commissioned to make the first of the TRX frames for a customer ofWoodford Motorcycles.This is the bike now owned by Wendy.While Simon was building the jig for this, Chris rang NWS to buy some other parts and as the owner of one of the first TRXs in the country, was very interested to hear what Simon was up to. “I called up to buy a few parts and ended up buying a chassis kit,” says Chris. Funny how things turned out; 23 years later, both bikes are owned by the Clarksons. Business architect Wendy is just the third owner of the bike and is responsible for covering half of its 14,000 miles.
The NWS frame retains the Yamaha swingarm pivot sections and the stock swingarm is beautifully braced by NWS. The jig had an adjustable headstock angle and Simon opted for a 23.5° head angle for quicker steering.The design made the head angle and wheelbase close to that of a YZF-R6 although the NWSTRX was a couple of years ahead of that. Overall the NWSTRX is around 15kg lighter than stock. H30 aluminium was used throughout and heat treated once the immaculate welding was completed. It remains one of Simon’s favourite creations.
So with the eBay deal concluded and the bike safely in her custody and unable to live with its strident yellow hue for more than a day or two,Wendy got straight down to work, stripping the bike back to frame and engine while breaking out the Autosol and wire wool to revive the aluminium frame’s tubular members. “It took about two days to get rid of all the white corrosion where the frame had bloomed,” she says. “I had no prints left on the pads of my fingertips and could barely look at it for a couple of days.” She did stick with the Autosol long enough to revive the polished aluminium yokes on the Suzuki GSX-R750L forks with Maxton internals and Nissin four-pot brake calipers left over from an upgrade to Chris’s TRX, however. Chris would donate a K&N filter set-up created for his own bike and now surplus to requirements following a switch to Keihin FCRs.Wendy’sTRX retains stock Mikuni BDST38 CV carbs beneath the aftermarket pods.To match the mesh filters and the freer-flowing exhaust, the carbs have been treated to a Stage 2 Dynojet kit developed by Craig Taylor of Dyno Torque in Birmingham.
While the mechanicals were being attended to,Wendy sent the tank and bodywork – the tail unit now replaced with a Skidmarx single-seater – to Racepaint UK. “That was the longest wait during the original build,” she says. “Although the results were worth it. Some people are surprised that I didn’t opt for a Speedblock scheme but I fancied something less obvious. The inspiration was my red, white and blue Suomy Christer Lindholm replica. Wish I could get another. It’s the best lid ever but this one is past its use-by date.” When the bodywork was returned the fairing was made complete with a tinted Zero Gravity screen and Suzuki SV1000 mirrors modified to fit.With their long, slender stalks they’re an elegant and useful addition compared to the stock mirrors. The King Carbon front guard proudly displays its fibre weave unadorned by paint.
Rearsets are by Gilles and were sourced from Performance Parts. Their carbon heelplates are Zero Limits. Mounted behind the gearshift rod is a racy-looking Coerce sprocket cover; a rare Japanese- produced aftermarket part and the milled piece of aluminium is a huge improvement over the stock Yamaha effort. The first iteration of the bike used Coerce rear sets too. Pillion ’pegs were deleted and their holes in the hangers plated over prior to the units being polished.
Shorter dogbones from Lust Racing raise the back-end 20mm to allow the petite Wendy get more weight over the handlebars and a Nitron NTR R1 – that’s the shock model, not the bike – nestles in the beautiful polished swingarm with its NWS tubular bracing.We can testify to the brilliance ofWendy’s choice of shock as this is the unit that graces more than one of the PS fleet. “Mine is built to suit riders up to around 12-stone so if I ever sell the bike it can go with it,” she says. “Not that I plan to do that any time soon.”
Rear caliper remains stock but the disc is a Kagizume. “Chris bought me it instead of flowers for Valentine’s Day,” she says, “I’m a practical kind of gal and at least it is petal-shaped.” As with the front brake lines, the rear is by HEL. Shorty gold- anodised hand levers by ASV for the controls on the NWS clip-ons were chosen by Wendy: “It’s important to make your bike fit you.” Redditch Shotblasting blasted and powdercoated the wheels.
The electrics presented few problems other than a few corroded connectors here and there that required replacement.
In all the built took around eight weeks. “I’m not very good at sitting still and like to be getting on with something,” saysWendy. “I had started to think that I might be turning into one of those bike builders who goes too far to the point where the bike becomes like precious jewellery and you’re afraid to ride it,” says Wendy. She soon dispelled that nonsense by getting on the road with it. “I got the bike in the August and it was ready by Autumn. Lots of people don’t like to ride except for on dry days in summer but I don’t mind the cold and the wet. In fact I think it makes you a better rider as you have to be smoother plus you get used to the bike sliding around a bit. If I was going to mollycoddle the bike having built it to the standard I did, you soon forget about all that when a sportsbike pulls up beside you at the lights, or the opportunity for a kill-switch backfire presents itself while riding through a tunnel. I can’t help but grin when I set off car alarms too.”
Like every special,Wendy’sTRX is a bike in constant evolution, although one change came earlier than might have been expected. “I had been excited to get a pair of Termignoni end-cans for the bike as I’d never owned a set before and they sounded fantastic. But while they sat fairly well the lines just weren’t exactly right. Then I spotted the Over Racing titanium and carbon system on eBay. It was unused and still boxed. It’s lines are perfect in every direction at all angles,” she says.
Also on the to-do list is the refinishing of the engine casings but they’re staying as they are for now as to do them properly would mean an engine strip. ShouldWendy decide she fancies more power there’s always the example of Chris’s bike with its 870cc kit and 41mm FCRs. Flatslides alone would give perhaps another 10bhp, suggests Chris.Although at northwards of a grand they are a pricey upgrade for a bike that already delivers plentiful torque and decent power.
Wendy has plenty of support and inspiration for her petrolhead proclivities. As well as theTRX she has aTDR250 and a couple of rather saucy motor cars. “My dad David Hancocks is a retired motor mechanic. He and Chris give me lots of support. I’m happy to do the grunt work and keep learning from them.When I was really little dad worked in a garage that did PDIs on bikes straight of the crate. If it wasn’t for him I don’t think I’d be quite so interested, let alone informed. He rebuilt the top-end on my TDR and it is the sweetest motor ever,” she says.
Wendy’s reworked and restyled NWS TRX has seen service as a commuter as well as pleasurable recreational blasts. She hasn’t done any trackdays on it yet but hasn’t ruled them out. “Last trackday I did I broke someone else’s Ducati 748 as well as my clavicle but I do fancy a go around Oulton Park on the Yamaha,” she says.
Of course there’s a little NWS marital rivalry; all very loving of course. “Mine is all authentic as it has the original NWS swingarm where the one on Chris’s was written off by the guy he sold the bike to then bought it off again. Mind you he has replaced it with a GIA.Then there’s the 870 big-bore; the flat-slides, the R1 front-end...,” she says. “But this is my bike, it’s the real deal.The frame is pure bike porn and mine is the only one in the world built to my style.”
That is what Wendy’s achieved in her TRX and what special building is all about.
SPECIFICATION NWS TRX
849cc 270° parallel twin. Stock Mikuni BDST38 CV carbs with Stage 2 Dynojet kit. K&N filters. Over titanium exhaust system, carbon cans.
NWS frame in H30 aluminium. Stock swingarm braced by NWS. Nitron NTR R1 shock. Lust Racing shorter dogbanes for 20mm lift. EBC Pro-lite front discs, Kagizume rear. HEL brake lines. Gilles rearsets with Zero Limits carbon heel plates. Coerce front sprocket cover. Suzuki GSX-R750L forks with Maxton internals. Nissin 4-piston front calipers, stock rear. Zero Gravity screen. Suzuki SV1000 mirrors. NWS clip-ons. ASV shorty levers. Skidmarx single seat unit.