Yamaha SR500 cafe racer by Chappell Customs

Yamaha SR500 cafe racer
Chris Chappell’s last SR500 was a show-stopper. It was well received when we initially featured it, and went on to earn a spot among our Top Five Yamaha SR500s. As it turns out, he already had another one in the pipeline—with a very different spin.

“I definitely wanted to do the complete opposite,” says Chappell, “as we just hate doing the same thing twice.” So he opted to put the spray gun down for a change and polish everything instead, with the exception of the frame, which was powder coated white.

Yamaha SR500 cafe racer
He had initially planned to paint the fuel tank, but changed his mind once the bike started to come together—deciding that a polished aluminum tank would wrap up the build perfectly.

The tank proved to be a challenge though. Despite being sold to a friend of Chappell’s via eBay as an SR500-specific part, it simply didn’t fit properly. With all efforts to return it failing, Chappell took it off his friend’s hands and made it fit by fabricating new tank mounts. He also altered the bike’s steering stops, to prevent the forks from bashing into the soft aluminum.

Yamaha SR500 cafe racer
One of Chappell Customs‘ own Tuffside seats proved to be the perfect match for the tank’s lines; a dense foam was selected for comfort and the frame’s rear hoop modified to accommodate it. A discreet LED bar taillight with integrated turn signals was installed, with fork-wrapped LED turn signals at the front. With even the side-mounted license plate illuminated by LEDs, the bike is completely street legal.

Experience with SR500s has taught Chappell that their single-cylinder motors are prone to vibration, so he fitted clubman bars on traditional handle bar mounts with rubber bushings, instead of clip-ons, to make the bike more enjoyable to ride. The rear-set pegs are also rubber mounted for the same reason.

Yamaha SR500 cafe racer
An ’81 model with a mere 7000 miles on it, the SR500’s engine required little engine work. Chappell simply fitted a new gasket set and a Mikuni VM34 carb with an oval cone air filter. The only other performance mod is the exhaust—a stainless steel header pipe with a reverse cone muffler, “to give the thumper that great sound.” The battery’s also been removed.

The suspension and wheels received significant attention though—starting with shouldered aluminum rims laced with custom-made fat stainless steel spokes. The front forks have been upgraded with progressive springs, and the rear shocks are dual rate Works Performance units. Dual disks at the front aid in stopping, and Chappell fabricated a brace for the swingarm to increase rear-end stiffness.

Yamaha SR500 cafe racer
Finishing touches include a stainless steel front fender, and a particularly good looking front sprocket guard that Chappell cut with his new CNC router. He also designed a one-piece speedo and tacho mount, which incorporates all the necessary ‘idiot lights.’

Chappell describes the SR, nicknamed ‘Angel,’ as one of his “cleanest builds to date.” Even though he built it as a personal project, he’s already had interest from potential buyers. I can’t say that I’m surprised.

Head over to the Chappell Customs website to see more of Chris and Rob’s builds.