He’s even emblazoned this Yamaha WR500 with a big, fat warning label: ‘HELLION.’ We think it’s hella rad, so we got in touch to find out more.
Art runs One-Up Moto Garage in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He’s only in his mid-twenties, but he’s been wrenching since the age of seventeen—and even paid his way through college with moto work.
It took him a while to tackle a big, air-cooled two-stroke through—despite harboring a love for them.
Years later, Art found the donor for this project: a 1992 Yamaha WR500 ZD. “I’d never heard of the model until I saw this one,” he says, “and then I knew I had to try to build it.”
His first challenge was to get it registered for road use: “I’m sure in most states that concept would be pie in the sky, but in good ole Arkansas the sky is the limit, and all pies in it. So once a clean street legal title arrived, I started designing.”
With help from fellow One-Upper Micah Welsh, Art began stripping the bike down to the basics.
The tank was restored and sent off to sign-painter Eric Snodgrass, to badge with its new moniker.
The typeface, in case you’re wondering, was inspired by an old movie poster for The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
There’s not much else in the way of bodywork, but what’s present is all hand-made. That includes the front fender and the quirky, LED-equipped headlight assembly—plus smaller bits like the chain guard, plate bracket and tail light mount.
The cockpit is minimal—with mini switches and an empty bracket where a speedo should be. Art specs his bikes to run with a smart phone as a speedo, so he sourced an iPhone 6 case (to match his client’s phone) and mounted it.
The exhaust system is a full gold-chrome FMF system that came with the bike, which Art claims “is more rare than a well-tuned Harley.” He simply polished up the expansion chamber, then shortened, repacked and powder-coated the silencer.
“The exhaust isn’t in a burn-your-leg position like it appears,” he promises.
He’s rebuilt the stock rear wheel, and swapped the front out for a matching 18-inch, with a new rim laced to the original hub. Michelin T63s round out the package.
The motor’s been rebuilt, and all the little perishable bits (like bearings and gaskets) replaced, front to back. There’s a brand new, simplified wiring harness.
Art’s also spent a lot of time tuning the engine to run right with the exposed filter—not least because the owner plans to enter it in flat track races. “This poor bike almost broke my foot, having to start it so many times on tune day.”
“It blows my mind, because tuning is always the top priority for me. Above all else, my bikes are always very ride-able, and ideally run better than a stock variant.”
As for the clip-ons: “The seat height is very low on this bike, and stock bars almost felt like apes. So I’ve used clip-ons to give it a more casual riding position. It is deceitfully aggressive looking, but it handles great.”
“If you like drifting on two wheels…this thing is hard to beat!”
Sounds hella good to us.