The English workshop Auto Fabrica is fast developing a distinctive style. It’s the reduction of the motorcycle to its simplest form, finished to the highest standard with low-key paintwork. And it’s incredibly easy on the eye.
If there’s a four-wheeled parallel, it’s those super-sanitary hot rods—the ones with seams removed, door handles flushed into the bodywork, and subtle improvements to stance.
“We wanted to create something that hadn’t been done before,” say Bujar and Gaz, the obsessive builders behind Auto Fabrica. “Something every creative person, design company or maker strives for. The SR500 is a bike that people love to modify, so we had our work cut out. We wanted this bike to be unique, but keeping that understated feel we go for.”
The stock Yamaha SR500 has good bones, and this one was stripped down to the barest of those bones before being fitted with completely new bodywork.
The look is a balanced blend of ‘old school’ and modern design: A nod to the past while focusing on the future. “You see a lot of retro these days, and we didn’t want to create just another retro bike. We wanted a timeless one.”
To create the one-off tank, Auto Fabrica employed a huge industrial ‘English Wheel’ that was once used to form aluminum sections for aircraft wings. (“A great tool and a lovely piece of engineering.”)
The tank is crafted from 2mm aluminum sheet and holds an unusually practical 15 liters. Aluminum is also used for the seat and tail unit, bringing down the weight of the build.
Auto Fabrica engineer and manufacture their own exhausts in house, and for the SR500 they have built a full stainless steel, hand-bent rig. To join the sections they used a TIG welder: “We wanted the welds neat enough to be left exposed, and take advantage of the natural coloring created there.”
The stance of any custom is vital, and this one hits the spot. “We re-calved the forks to accommodate a two-inch drop at the front, and then sourced a set of 325mm Marzocchi shocks to raise the bike at the rear.” The visual balance is perfect.
Reducing the visual bulk of the SR500 took a lot of time and head scratching. There’s no front fender, and no visible fender at the rear. The battery has also gone: this SR500 is kick-start only. (“Everyone loves the feeling and empowerment of kicking a large single!”). The alternator cover has been modified to reduce mass, and clip-on bars add to the clean, slender aesthetics.
As with all the bikes that roll out of this English workshop, the paint and detailing is factory-level. Auto Fabrica have chosen a neutral grey for the tank and seat unit, with a large swage of white highlighting the form of the tank.
The hardware was mostly left raw, with the engine cases being aqua blasted and polished. To soften to the clinical effect, the seat is upholstered in a natural tan-colored leather.
On the performance front, the bike has been treated to a VM36 carburetor jetted to suit the new exhaust system. The riding position is much-improved, and the weight loss has boosted acceleration and improved the handling.
It’s undoubtedly a fair-weather road bike, but none the worse for it. The perfect steed for zipping through the traffic on England’s twisty, busy east coast roads.