WORDS Michael Hilton
IMAGES Pierre Robichaud and Alexey Afanasyev
Escaping traffic and riding off-road is a trend that everyone at Iron & Air embraces, and we’re not alone. These days more and more riders are taking to dirt bikes and dual sport, finding adventure far away from the asphalt. The Yamaha Rural Racer is a bike designed to do just that.
Meet Kevin Murray, the owner of Velomacchi, a motorcycle gear company located in Hood River, Oregon. Murray is a former design director at The North Face and a moto enthusiast; the perfect pedigree to marry outdoor adventure gear and motorcycles. Velomacchi has developed some of the best bags and riding gear we’ve come across, so it’s no surprise that Yamaha USA approached Murray with the idea of constructing an off-road concept bike to celebrate backroad adventure and rural exploration.
The Rural Racer’s platform is Yamaha’s lightweight and versatile XSR700, which has a 689cc parallel-twin engine with a cross-plane crank that delivers a healthy 74 horsepower. Murray says, “My first thought on the XSR700 was that it would be an excellent platform to build a Goldrush bike.” The Goldrush is an epic, three-day riding event along the backroads of eastern Oregon that ends the gold mining town of Sumpter.
Murray says, “My first thought on the XSR700 was that it would be an excellent platform to build a Goldrush bike.”
Murray tore down the bike, then built it back up using only what was necessary; he read every review of the XSR700 he could find to determine areas on the bike that could use improvements or upgrades. Murray also needed to make some substantial adjustments so the street-focused bike could handle off-road riding.
Murray’s adjustments included beefing up the suspension with a Race Tech G3-S rear shock, adding a lighter Yoshimura exhaust, and modifying the rear sub-frame to carry an extra fuel cell and luggage – specifically the Velomacchi Speedway Hybrid Duffle, a watertight duffle bag.
Mounted to the fuel tank is a DJI Mavik Pro drone, which Murray says is the perfect backcountry intelligence gatherer, be it scouting the route ahead or finding your riding buddies. The resulting Rural Racer is a radical idea, the product of two great companies exploring the future of adventure motorcycling.