Yamaha’s lightweight, wheelie-prone TT500 is one of the all-time great off-road bikes. So how do you improve on a machine already close to perfection?
When Canadian Paul Miller found himself with a basket case ’77 TT500, he decided to try. He’s built an elegant and nimble street tracker that, despite first impressions, is street-legal.
There’s hardly a square inch of this bike that hasn’t been massaged: the only remaining pure TT500 parts are the engine and the front half of the frame.
Miller, 25, lives in the oil town of Calgary, Alberta, and grew up around street rods and drag racing. He’s a gas turbine technician but these days it’s motorcycles that get his motor running.
“Street trackers really interest me, so I decided to build one,” says Miller, who races motocross whenever he can. “I had a clear vision from the onset.”
“I wanted something different, so I went with the white wheels and frame. And I wanted to fabricate as many of the parts as I could.”
Miller seized the chance to fix elements of the original design that bugged him.
The TT500’s shocks are positioned at a different angle to the front forks, so Miller has made them symmetrical via a new rear sub frame. He’s also changed the foot pegs to a more comfortable position.
The forks are from an XS650, smoothed and polished, and the brakes are lifted from a Ducati Monster. (The pedal hides a skateboard wheel bearing in the pivot.)
It’s worth pointing out the LED lighting, which satisfies the Canadian legal requirements but is almost invisible until activated. The switchgear is equally slick: the signal, light and horn switches are Drag Specialties pieces.
But it’s the custom-fabricated rear brake fluid reservoir that most people comment on. “I’ve been asked many times if I am going to put it on the market,” says Miller. “It’s coming soon.”
It’s a meticulous build, with immaculate finishing and quality control—right down to the safety wiring. Miller’s gas turbine training shows.
“I learned a lot during this build,” he admits. “I did all the engine work, ignition, plumbing, welding and sheet metal. Plus the fabricating, wiring, painting and polishing.” He knows when to call it a day though: his attempt at the upholstery failed, so the experts were called in.
Miller has now set up his own workshop, PanicRev Customs, to offer his remarkable skills to other Canadian custom fans.
Form an orderly queue here.
Images by Cinderwood Photography.
Handmade aluminum tail section, subframe, inner fender, electrical panel and exhaust
Handmade rear brake reservoir, and brake and shifter controls
All brackets handmade
Handmade brake caliper and master cylinder mounting brackets
1999 Ducati M750 front and rear brakes
Omega Racer aluminum tank
1980 XS650 forks (shaved, polished and rebuilt)
Powerdynamo CDI ignition
2015 SR400 clutch cover (to get rid of the points section of the cover)
Gazi rear shocks
SR500 mag wheels
Dunlop K70 tires
LED signal lights, tail light, and headlights
Hidden headlights behind number plate
All oil lines have been replaced with steel braided AN lines
Rocker oil line has been relocated to exhaust rocker
Reverse cone muffler
Gold DID chain
All engine gaskets replaced
Powdercoated frame, wheels, triple trees