Going solo: A crisp Yamaha SR500 street tracker from Poland

1980 Yamaha SR500 street tracker by Airow
The Yamaha SR500 is enjoying a resurgence in popularity right now, but we’re not surprised. Few motorcycles can match the SR’s enduring appeal; its timeless design, buzzy motor, and neutral geometry make it easy to get along with. No wonder the previous owner of this Yamaha SR500 insisted on a final spin around the block before he parted with it.

“You could see the emotion during his last ride,” says Paweł Guzik, who acquired the SR500 to turn it into a handsome street tracker. Paweł’s name has graced our pages before—he’s one-third of Ventus Garage, a custom workshop in Kraków, Poland. But for the last three years, he’s also been running a solo side project under the moniker Airow Custom Motorcycles.

1980 Yamaha SR500 street tracker by Airow
Paweł’s goal was to build a classically-styled flat tracker with supermoto underpinnings. His client, a gentleman from Austria, actually wanted to buy a Suzuki GN400 that Ventus had previously customized, but needed a little more poke than the 400 could offer. He’s also used to riding supermotos—so 17” wheels and upgraded suspension were mandatory.

Paweł started by stripping the 1980-model Yamaha SR500 down to its nuts and bolts. A stock SR500 only ekes out about five horses more than a stock GN400, so his first job was to bore the Yamaha’s single-cylinder mill out to 540 cc.

1980 Yamaha SR500 street tracker by Airow
The rebuild included a forged piston and performance connecting rod from CP Carillo, an upgraded camshaft from Świątek, and performance valve springs. The crankshaft was lightened and balanced too, and the whole engine was hydro-blasted and Cerakoted before being reassembled with stainless steel fasteners. A Mikuni TM36 carb with a RamAir filter helps it breathe easier.

The next phase involved updating the SR’s wheels and suspension. Paweł went deep here, replacing every OEM part with something newer and better suited to the client’s needs. A set of KTM 690 Duke triples and forks do duty up front, with YSS shocks and an aluminum swingarm from Kedo fitted at the back.

1980 Yamaha SR500 street tracker by Airow
The wheels use Yamaha WR hubs, 17” rims, fresh stainless steel spokes, and Metzeler Roadtec tires that prioritize speed over style. Upgrading the brakes proved to be a harder task. Paweł started at the back, by mounting a Ducati caliper on a custom CNC-machined bracket and mating it to a Nissin master cylinder lifted from a Suzuki.

Since the SR500 originally had a drum brake out back, there was no existing attachment point for the master cylinder. So Paweł created one, taking care to line it up neatly with the rear frame triangle. The front brake uses the KTM’s Brembo caliper with an EBC disc from a Yamaha XT660.

Shifting his attention to the bodywork, Paweł sourced a late-model Yamaha RD250 fuel tank to replace the OEM unit. The SR500 carries its fuel in the frame, so the RD250 tank needed an all-new tunnel to fit. While he was at it, Paweł made space for the ignition and a Lithium-ion battery under the tank too.

The fiberglass tail section mimics classic flat track designs, but it’s actually a one-off. It’s topped off with a chic suede leather saddle. Paweł also fabricated the stubby front fender and the Triumph Thruxton-inspired exhaust.

There’s more of his handiwork in the cockpit, where CNC-machined parts hold items like the Bates-style headlight and Motogadget speedo. The Yamaha also wears new bars and grips, with simplified switches, and Magura brake and clutch levers. Look closely, and you’ll notice that the bike’s clutch has been upgraded to a hydraulic setup too.

Since the SR500 had to be street legal, Paweł also made provision for a bright LED taillight, LED turn signals, and a license plate mount. “It meets the strict requirements of the TÜV certification,” he confirms. “In short, this meant consultations on critical points with the TÜV inspector, and sending photos after completing important stages of the build.”

Inspiration for the Yamaha’s elegant livery came from the custom Porsches of Singer Vehicle Design. Tasteful pinstripes dance along the white bodywork, complemented by a slew of grey Cerakote finishes. If there’s a better color scheme for this particular street tracker, we can’t picture it.

The bike’s minimalist aesthetic also belies the amount of work, and drama, that it took to build it. Paweł spent 1,700 hours on the project, and a lot transpired between the purchase of the donor bike and now—including a global pandemic. As a result, the bike is now for sale.

Are you as tempted as we are?

Airow Custom Motorcycles | Instagram | Images by Kacper Miętka and Jan Wodniak