Smoke Show: A svelte Yamaha SR500 flat tracker from Idaho

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
As soon as a particular motorcycle becomes popular among customizers, it becomes harder and harder to find clean examples of it. The Yamaha SR500 has been a darling of the custom scene since forever, and has been customized in every way imaginable. You’ve got a better chance of finding one that’s had heinous work done to it, than a minty stock one.

This shimmering Yamaha SR500 flat tracker was a “half-rate bobber thing” when Chad Daly first got his hands on it. So his first job was to undo some of the previous custom work, to make room for a far more tasteful set of mods.

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
Chad lives in Idaho, wrenching on bikes in his spare time under the moniker DGRS (Down Grade Race Systems). He picked up the 1978-model SR500 intending to build a flat track race bike that could also rip around town. The trick was to make it competitive, but also include the bare necessities to make it street-legal.

Reversing the existing bobber job meant completely redesigning the rear end of the bike. Chad hacked off the ‘bobbed’ subframe, then modified a Yamaha XS650 rear loop to replace it and welded it in place. The rest of the frame was de-tabbed and tidied up.

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
A shortened and braced XS650 swingarm sits lower down, installed with stainless steel needle bearings. Chad tuned a pair of Öhlins shocks to prop up the rear, then fabricated new upper shock mounts, so that he could dial in the rear geometry.

Showa forks do duty up front, held in place by aluminum triple trees from Cognito Moto. The forks benefit from Race Tech fork cartridges, progressive springs, custom-made lowering spacers, and 3D-printed fork guards. Other front-end upgrades include new sealed steering stem bearings from All Balls and a Kedo steering damper.

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
Chad ditched the SR500’s clunky wheels and laced up a new set of 19s. They use Excel rims and Buchanan’s spokes, with a Kawasaki KX250 hub at the back, and a Moose Racing KX250-specific hub up front.

Since this is a flat tracker, it runs with no front brake; the rear brake uses a Brembo caliper and master cylinder, with a PSR fluid reservoir and a Goodridge stainless steel line. The rear brake disc sits on an aluminum spacer that Chad cast himself. (Chad’s day job is in the metalworking industry, so he’s well-versed in the art of fabricating and sand-casting parts.)

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
Gopher Glass in Minnesota supplied the fiberglass flat track bodywork. The tank, tail, and side covers all attach to the bike with DZUS quarter-turn fasteners, via custom mounting tabs that Chad added. The bike can be stripped down in a jiffy, and there’s a Leatherman multi-tool stashed under the seat in case of emergencies.

Chad’s big on 3D printing, so he leaned into the technology to create many of the SR500’s smaller parts. The rear inner fender and license plate mount, and the engine case guard, were printed using a flexible TPU material. The taillight housing was 3D printed using ABS plastic, with a cast resin lens that bears Chad’s DGRS logo.

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
Tasty off-the-shelf parts and subtle custom touches are sprinkled throughout the build. The cockpit wears ProTaper handlebars, and a RunLeader tach and hour meter on a handmade bracket. ODI Vans x Cult grips adorn the bars, with Johnson Rubber pegs mounted on custom plates lower down.

The engine’s clean enough to make even the most critical classic bike restorer gush. It breathes in through a Mikuni flatslide carb, and out through a Cerakoted header and a Supertrapp muffler. Heavy-duty clutch springs from EBC add to the SR’s proven reliability.

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
A Pro Comp headlight sits quietly below the front number board. It, and the taillight, can be removed in seconds when Chad takes the bike to the track.

The skid plate and oil cooler are from MotoLanna, and the dual oil delivery system comes from Kedo. The gas and oil caps are tidy aluminum items, with a temperature gauge embedded in the latter. Chad built the folding gear and brake levers himself then finished the bike off with a full set of titanium fasteners from Race Tech.

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly
The bike’s finished in a sensational monochrome livery, with just the right amount of flake added to it, and gold details to make it pop. Chad did the paintwork himself but outsourced the powder-coating of the frame and the seat upholstery. Those were handled by Palmers Powders and Resurrection Upholstery respectively, while the number board graphics came from

Chad’s Yamaha SR500 flat tracker looks sharp as heck, and is reportedly just as good to ride. Plus we’re giving him extra credit for bringing a sketchy custom job back from the brink.

Chad Daly Instagram | Images by Bryan Wood

Yamaha SR500 flat tracker by Chad Daly