Every now and then, a bike comes along that captures the state of the neo-custom scene right at this moment in time. This is one of those bikes, from the Virginia-based workshop Motohangar. It’s not a big-budget build and it’s not a fire-breathing monster, but it’s exactly the kind of bike that is attracting legions of younger riders back into the motorcycling scene.
The starting point was a 1979 Yamaha SR500, a long-time staple of the Japanese custom scene. Old SRs are increasingly popular in the US, and good examples are affordable. (Yamaha has noticed this, apparently, and may export the latest SR400 to the States.)
“This wasn’t a commissioned build,” says Motohangar’s Pat Jones. “The bike’s more for our own personal use, and to showcase our design aesthetic.” It’s an attractive aesthetic: bare metal bodywork, a hand-made leather seat and a low-profile tail unit.
The SR400 has been thoroughly overhauled throughout. It’s sitting a little lower than stock at the front, and Motohangar have fitted new rear shocks to tighten up the handling.
Other upgrades include stainless steel braided brake lines and a vintage headlight and taillight, both modified to accept modern bulbs. The wiring has been stripped to the bare minimum, and the original wheels have been refurbished and powdercoated.
The driving force behind this build was Motohangar’s latest cohort, Johnny Brindley. (Hence the ‘B’ in the hand-painted ‘MH500B’ nomenclature on the tank.) “He’s a good friend who was looking to learn about bikes and needed a place to work on them,” says Pat. “He’s since become a part of Motohangar, and adds to a lot of our design ideas.”
To clean up the front end, the bar-mounted electric controls—including the key switch—have been relocated to under the seat. The engine has been treated to K&N filtration and a custom header hooked up to a period Yoshimura silencer. (“They’re from an 80s sport system,” says Pat. “This one is more commonly found on the DOHC Honda 750s and other similar bikes from that era.”)
It’s a great showcase for Motohangar’s work—a rideable and reliable custom that also looks like a million dollars. Check out our coverage of previous Motohangar bikes, and follow the company’s news via their Facebook page.