Welcome to the Panoramic Bike build page! Read on if you have an interest in anything motorcycles, or if you want to know how this unique project came together!
  • I think Edmonton winters are hard on everybody, but the winter of 2022 was especially tough for me. To make a long story short, I was having my first existential crisis as a business owner. I’ve always been a person who needs to stay productive and work towards something. And as those who work in creative fields know, sometimes it’s tough to just, be creative. So, I wanted to get creative in other ways. As one does, I fell into a YouTube vortex on one chilly evening, leading me down a path towards believing I could build a motorcycle, and that it would eventually become the Panoramic Bike. I narrowed down my ideal donor bike and began scouring local classifieds. Sure enough, a good condition, yet not running 1982 Yamaha Virago 750 came up for sale in Calgary. With only 10,000 original KMs on the motor, I had found a great donor bike. It wasn’t perfect however - having been dropped twice it was a little dinged up and advertised as ‘not running’. Not to fret, we packed it up along with a couple bins of parts and drove it back to Edmonton!
  • I suppose now’s a good time to shoutout my dad Peter! He was instrumental to this project in so many ways which you will find if you are interested enough to read through the entire build! His shop is where all the work took place on the build. Thanks to him, we had all the tools needed at our disposal and many that made our lives a lot easier. Off we go!
  • Eager to get started, the bike was stripped in record time. Probably a little too fast as I could have used some photo references for later. Anyways, my first step was to get the bike sitting right. Front end modifications on this frame are very common, so this step wasn’t that daunting. I was able to find a good condition Yamaha R1 front end, and with help from a modified stem, it mounted up perfectly.
  • While waiting on other parts, I guess I’ll tackle the tank!
  • After a quick sandblast the tank was looking good! But those dents needed fixing. (yes, that’s a Graham-Paige in the background, shout out to my father-in-law Kim for lending a hand on this project as well!)
  • Painting parts was unexpectedly the most frustrating part of this build. I have come to learn that you need A LOT of patience and diligence in prep to get perfect results. As a result of my lack of experience, some of the painted parts held up, but many didn’t. Eventually, most parts were taken for powder-coating, but there are a couple DIY paint jobs I am proud of on the bike including the shaft drive assembly.
  • Kinda sorta looking like a bike, right? To give the bike that aggressive café racer look, I needed to raise the rear of the tank. I also wanted to store the battery and all other electrical components in the small space underneath, so we busted out the zip disc and welder and got to work.
  • Better bondo-er than welder that’s for sure! Closing off the back of the tank would all me to raise the height enough to store the battery and wiring head unit underneath, which was a key point of the build as I wanted all electrical components to be hidden as much as possible. Next came the subframe/seat mount. This was our first design challenge. I suppose most pro shops would simply open SolidWorks and get drawing, but we didn’t have that luxury.
  • u.g.l.y. but you get the idea… Wanting to go with the single seater look, we endeavoured to build a minimalistic subframe that would match the lines of the V-twin motor. My dad then had a genius idea – to cut/paste using the existing subframe tubing as it already matched the curvature of the bike.
  • Don’t @ me about safety. We CTRL-X’ed the existing subframe, received some parts back from powdercoating, and voila!
  • Next came the seat. This one has a really cool story behind it. A very common occurrence during my teenage years would be my dad waking me up at some ungodly hour on a Saturday or Sunday with some type of ‘adventure’ planned. Usually it involved building something, fixing something, or breaking something. On this cold winter day, it involved killing something. So, after smoking out the neighbourhood with diesel fumes starting my 1981 Land Cruiser at minus-20, out we drove to a family friends bison ranch to cull one from the herd. As a kid, this was just the type of stuff that could be expected. I needed to understand where my food comes from, and we were the type of people that learned how to do things for ourselves. So, without getting into the gory details, after a few hours out in the cold the deed was done. We skinned the beast, sent the animal out for processing and loaded the head and hide into the back of the Land Cruiser for prep/taxidermy (my dad always wanted a buffalo coat and head mounted – don’t ask). PS I’m sorry to my high school friends I drove around, for the stench of death you had to endure for the next month. Cut to: 16 years later, my dad dusts off an old storage bin. What’s inside? Remnants of the tanned bison leather, left over from the animal we harvested years ago! Sadly, all photos from the dying process were lost thanks to a stolen phone. Essentially using a giant q-tip I daubed sections of the tanned hide with dark brown leather dye until there were enough coats to blend perfectly. The next step was to confirm the design and find an upholsterer for the job.
  • Take it out of the advertising budget right?
  • Now we can see the vision coming to life! After seeing this put together, we were getting really excited to get this thing running. Did we put the cart before the horse and not finish more important things first? Maybe. But we were having fun going at this project with absolutely zero experience or plan of attack. Wiring the bike was next. We wanted to get this thing roaring at all costs.
  • There’s my dad! So, with just the basics wired up, we mounted some very dodgy home made fuel tanks and tried to get er going! Well, a couple sputters happened, but not much else. At least we know the bike was in running shape! (or so we thought). Good enough for now!
  • Kinda looking like a bike! With my painting skills improving by the day, I figured it was about time to take on the tank. With a vision for the colour scheme of Panoramic blue, it was time to spray.
  • Looks ok from 5 ft. but trust me, it was not. Well, my first paint job was not a success. It’s hard to tell from this photo but it just didn’t look right. The job, the finish, everything. Needing to undergo a re-spray, I decided to go in a slightly different direction for version 2. The gloss finish in combination with the stock gold fork was just not the vibe. I wanted a classy but mostly blacked out look to draw attention to the tank. So with a quick trip to the powder coaters for a colour change on the fork and a tank respray in the shop, we were looking much better!
  • Mmmmmmatte. The next step of the build was definitely the most daunting: building the exhaust. With very limited (and expensive) aftermarket options that would fit the new style of the bike, a crucial decision had to be made. I had not cut any corners on the build to this point, and I wasn’t about to start now. So, do I bite the bullet and purchase an aftermarket exhaust kit, massively increasing the cost of the build? Or do I set out to custom fab a completely unique exhaust for the bike – with zero experience welding stainless steel tubing? I mean, did anyone think I wasn’t choosing option B? Helping the decision was access to an industrial grade Miller tig welder and a full tank of argon courtesy of my uncle Bob, so that certainly was a factor.
  • Trigger warning: baaaaad welds. Holy practice! Tig welding was one of the hardest things I’ve learned to do. It takes a special combination of equipment knowledge, a steady hand, good rhythm and a feel for materials – something that comes with years of practice, not hours. Practice, practice and more practice was required, and even when I thought I was ready, I was not. Oh well, we forge ahead anyways…
  • Piecing the exhaust together, feeling lucky it’s going to work out with zero design work in advance. I’m not exactly sure how, but things began coming together. After cutting, pasting, cutting, twisting, cutting and tacking some more, the exhaust took shape.
  • Tacked into place. A 2 into 1 design was used so that the pipes could be easily removed and so that I could squeeze in a 2” baffle post-merge to keep the decibels at a somewhat respectable level. Not feeling completely ready for this, but knowing that I probably never would be, we got to weldin’.
  • Again, don’t @ me about safety, this welding table is absolutely to code. Knowing I wanted the blended look, and that my welds were not very presentable anyways, a lot of grinding and sanding was in store for me. But eventually things started cleaning up…
  • So shiny! With sore wrists from hours of scotch-brite work, the exhaust finally revealed itself. Honestly I can’t believe it came out this nicely after all was said and done. It just goes to show you, with the right tools and attitude, nothing is impossible!
  • Well, it was time for a much deserved beer. All the hard work on the project was done! (or so I thought…) With an itch to get this thing ready in time for summer, I was hit with my first major curveball on the project. We eventually got the bike running, but only on one cylinder. This problem was a true test of my fortitude on this project. With the build so close to being complete, I was now in chase mode trying to figure out why we could only get one cylinder to fire. After multiple carb cleanings, re-wiring of the starter system and purchasing of new parts that didn’t need replacing, we had to dig deeper. After a compression check came up inconclusive, I decided to crack open the cam covers. Lo and behold, the front camshaft was shredded to bits, seized inside the bearing.
  • Oh boy… So, back to the manual we go (shout out Clymer). Thanks to some digging on YouTube, help from the manual and sourcing some gently used parts on ebay, I set out to dismantle the bike once again and pull the motor for the first time. Should this have been done sooner, I mean probably? But where’s the fun in that?
  • Since we had the top end apart and the jugs removed, we decided to take care of some other maintenance items that probably weren’t needed – but who knows if I’ll ever want to pull the motor again? New gaskets, valve seals, bearings, a quick valve lapping and a fresh coat of paint on the jugs had the motor looking and feeling brand new. Let’s put it all back together, again.
  • Well, this was it. Would all our hard work pay off? With a couple months to go until summer, things were looking up! But there were still some odds and ends to finish up. The bike wasn’t running great yet, so a new jet kit was ordered to add more fuel to the mixture to compensate for a less restrictive air intake and exhaust. With some finishing touches including a new gauge, brake fluid reservoir and brake/shift linkages fabbed, the bike was feeling roadworthy! Time for the maiden voyage. With the Panoramic Bike successfully making it around the block and back to the shop, my dad and I gave ourselves a pat on the back and cracked open a cold one to celebrate. About a year of hard work had culminated in this moment, so it was time to take stock of how far we had come.
  • Of course, being a forty-year-old bike, there was a feeling out process. Throughout the first months of driving it around town, a few problems were identified, but thankfully nothing too major. After fixing some kinks along the way and adding some more accessories, the Panoramic Bike was ready to be revealed! The project took a little over one year from beginning to end, and in some ways I can’t believe we were able to do it to this level. The way everything turned out was exactly how I envisioned, and while many mistakes were made along the way, it only helped me learn new skills and most importantly a lot of patience and trust in the process! So thanks for reading and keep the rubber side down, friends!