Inside Story GG Retrofitz Rocket Street Yamaha YZF-R3
Typically, we use our detective skills to search out the most interesting motorcycles in the world to present as our Alchemy in each issue. Other times, fate works in our favor and the perfect motorcycle drops in our laps.
We were attending a first look at the Shoei J•O helmet at Deus Ex Machina in Venice, Calif. While we were there, we spotted a sharp retro-themed sport bike that seemed destined for Alchemy. As luck would have it, Norman Kerechuk of GG Retrofitz—the builders of what appeared to be a custom Yamaha YZF-R3—was also at the event.
As it turns out, this motorcycle is the product of a kit that can be purchased from GG Retrofitz. So, this isn’t merely unobtainable eye candy—you can actually buy this kit and apply it to an R3 of your choice.
GG Retrofitz is an in-house brand of GK Design International, where Kerechuk serves as President. GKDI has worked with Yamaha since Yamaha motor began, including designing the first Yamaha—the YA-1. Definitely, GKDI knows Yamahas, and GG Retrofitz brings that expertise to the custom market.
“We selected the R3 partly because we’re familiar with Yamaha products and have a lot of loyalty to the brand,” Kerechuk explains. “We also selected it because they are plentiful in the market, they have sporty performance, and are fun and affordable for entry-level customers.”
“This is our first product,” Kerechuk reveals, “and it’s a street kit aimed at anyone who would like to change the look of their R3 into a retro-looking racer. We expect people that love vintage racing motorcycles, but don’t want the reliability problems, will be attracted to that product. We also feel owners of used R3s can refresh a bike with this kit and enjoy it for many years to come.”
As with almost any eye-catching motorcycle, there’s a genius behind it. In this case, GKDI Designer Masaru Akashi headed the team. Akashi has over 15 years’ experience designing production motorcycles, along with other vehicles. Akashi created the sketches, full-size clay model, and component parts, along with some of the graphics.
Ah, yes—the graphics. That’s what caught our eyes immediately. “The theme of our R3 is retro sports. We designed the graphic kit to be reminiscent of a ’70s-era race machine. Many feel it has the look of the Gulf-sponsored race cars from that era.” That is, of course, what immediately popped into our minds.
Underneath the graphics are the practical parts. The $1198 Rocket Street kit includes the front fairing, tank cover, left side panel, right side panel, lower cowl, tail, Zero Gravity windscreen and support bracket, headlight/speedometer bracket, along with hardware.
To complete the build, you will have to purchase a pair of Vortex Racing 41mm seven-degree clip-ons, plus a standard seven-inch headlight from an outside source.
Other accouterments, such as the exhaust, mirrors, turn signals, and cropped fender can be added to taste. In this case, you are looking at a Hotbodies Racing MGP carbon fiber muffler with a stainless steel end cap secured by an R&G Racing exhaust hanger kit, Woodcraft Technologies CFM rearsets, British Customs turn signals, Speedmetal Micro Bar End mirrors, and a rear fender eliminator kit.
The last piece of the puzzle is GG Retrofitz’ GG Podium Graphic Kit—surprisingly affordable at $298. If for some reason the GG Podium graphics don’t speak to you, there are two other compatible graphics kits for the Rocket Street kit.
In addition to the visual impact of the kit, there is a practical side to the GG Retrofitz Rocket Street kit. “Our kit saves nine pounds of weight,” Kerechuk claims, “which makes an already light bike feel more agile. The handlebar change creates a more aggressive riding position, putting the rider’s weight a little further forward and onto the front wheel. We feel the new riding position makes the bike more fun to corner.”
That’s Kerechuk in the photos, sporting the new Shoei J•O.
Although the kit does improve the handling of the R3, the GG Retrofitz Rocket Street kit is designed for the urban rider, rather than a track day aficionado. “We have a retro race kit about to go into production for track use,” Kerechuk tells us.
Without a doubt, any urban motorcyclist pulling up to the local café on a GG Retrofitz Rocket Street kit with the GG Podium Graphic Kit is going to turn heads at an amusingly low price—just keep an eye out on Craigslist for an R3 with a damaged fairing that can be had for a song.
Photography by Don Williams