If there’s a two-wheeled equivalent of the VW Beetle, it’s the Yamaha SR series. The mechanicals are simple, parts are cheap, and the charm has endured over the decades. In the US, you can pick up an older SR500 in reasonable condition for $2,000 or so.
This accessibility also means a glut of customized SR400s and SR500s—but this one caught our eye. It’s a classy, textbook build from our favorite small Swedish shop, 6/5/4 Motors.
“I bought the SR500 before we started the company,” says co-founder Johan. “I wanted a fairly small and quick bike to play around with—in town and on the gravel roads.”
Shortly after, the workshop was up and running, and a guy walked in looking for a cafe racer. “But when he saw the SR500 he fell in love, and asked if it was for sale. Voilà!”
6/5/4 got to work, and the result ticks all the boxes. For a 35-year-old bike, the engine was in great condition. The compression and spark checked out okay, so Johan replaced a few worn seals, adjusted everything back to factory spec, and replaced the nuts and bolts.
He’s also changed the Mikuni carb, replacing the CV34 with a VM34—and removed the unusually restrictive stock air filter. In its place is a free-flowing K&N foam filter, with the carb retuned to match.
A new chain and sprockets send drive to the 18-inch back wheel, which is shod with Bridgestone TW24 rubber. The 19-inch front carries a Heidenau K37 tire.
6/5/4 have dropped the forks just a notch, and fitted new shocks out back. The front brake rotor is from a Yamaha FZR, matched to a Brembo caliper from a Ducati Monster. This required a custom mounting bracket to match the offset of the SR500.
There’s a simple loop to clean up the back of the detabbed frame, and the front of the tank’s been lowered slightly for a straighter line. Then a bunch of new brackets were welded on: they hold the rear fender, reposition the tank and aluminum seat pan, and support an electronics box under the Nubuck leather seat.
There’s a new, simplified wiring loom, plus motocross bars, Renthal grips and a mini speedo to clean up the cockpit.
The seat is short—this is most definitely a bike for solo trips—which leaves room for a compact ‘luggage carrier.’ (At the moment it’s sporting a tool roll from the Sandqvist/Wrenchmonkees range.)
When 6/5/4’s customer first saw the bike, the tank was painted in a soft pink color. Fortunately it’s now a cool grey on the sides, with the top left unpainted and protected by a semi-flat clear coat. The frame is a creamy white—not the most obvious choice, but it works beautifully.
“The bike is quick and handles great,” Johan reports. And so it should—a stock 1980 SR500 is pleasingly light, tipping the scales at around 160 kilos dry (350 pounds).
Today, this SR500 spends most of its time in the north of Sweden, with occasional forays into the woods. Even as I sit 17,000 kilometers away on a small farm in New Zealand, it’s prompted me to scour the local classifieds …