The Ex-Rayborn XRTT - Calvin & Rob

Team Obsolete's 30-Year Quest To Possess The Last, Best Ex-Rayborn XRTT

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Brian J. Nelson, Dan Mahoney, Rich Chenet

When the bike reappeared in January '09 at a MidAmerica Vintage Motorcycle Auction in Las Vegas, Iannucci didn't let it get away. That's the bike seen in these photographs-the final evolution of the XRTT platform that was built specifically for Rayborn, incorporating changes exclusive to this bike including a trick duplex cradle frame modified with adjustable swingarm-pivot height and a five-speed gearbox replacing the standard four-speed. The Morris mag wheels and Honda CB750 disc brakes are original, as is the smaller "Sprint" bodywork, still finished in the original Jet Fire Orange and Black paint with Rayborn's original #14 and decals intact.

Once it was in his hands, Iannucci immediately set to work making the bike ready to ride. He started by sending a known Rayborn motor-a correct alloy-head XR750 identified by its serial numbers as one built for Rayborn for the '73 Match Races-to XR750 tuning guru Carl Patrick to be freshened up. The chassis was refreshed too, with minor updates for safety, including new Works Performance shocks and Avon race-compound tires. The rest of the bike remains untouched, giving it an incredibly authentic, impossible-to-reproduce patina. "As far as I'm concerned, this has the most convincing pedigree," Iannucci says. "The chassis that was most likely ridden by Calvin in England, with what is certainly that motor, and from the collection of Dick O'Brien-the Rayborn tree and the O'Brien tree come together with this bike."

The only thing left, of course, was to return the bike to its natural habitat: the racetrack. Iannucci set his sights on the AMA Racing Vintage Grand Championships at Mid-Ohio this past July, part of the larger AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days festivities. In typical Team Obsolete style-Iannucci doesn't do anything partway-he created a spectacle, inviting Pieter Zylstra, the Dutch-born Harley-Davidson designer who created the alloy XR750, as well as Cal Rayborn III, who would ride the bike.

The "reveal" of the refreshed ex-Rayborn bike, not seen by the public eye in more than 35 years, couldn't have been more spectacular. A crowd constantly surrounded Garage #20, where Iannucci displayed the machine alongside an original set of Rayborn's leathers and other memorabilia. The Patrick-prepped motor was perfectly tuned, and whenever Team Obsolete technicians Kerry Pierno and Leon Stanley warmed up the bike with a 5-minute symphony of deep, full-throated revs, spectators literally came running.

Though the XRTT wasn't entered in any races, it's unfair to dismiss Cal III's exhibition runs as mere parade laps. He rode his father's best bike like a true Rayborn, running it deep into all five gears, blistering the fresh Avons to their edges and dragging the unprotected kneecaps of the replica leathers Bates made special for this event. The crowd hooted in appreciation, but no one was more honored-or humbled-than Cal III himself.

"Amazing. Just plain amazing," he said following his first session. "Riding the other XRTT 10 years ago was neat, and it gave me a lot of respect for my dad, once I realized how hard it was to ride these bikes. But this one is different. It's got so much history to it. They didn't even touch the paint since he rode it! You can really feel the spirit, the connection, to my dad."

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