Soulful SuMo: Yamaha TT500 “Retromotard” built for bumpy fen roads…
Adam Beeston of Man Cave Motorcycles is our favorite type of builder. The description on his social profile says it all:
“Lifelong bike-mad Fenman modernising and restoring classic bikes on a budget in the man cave. If u can’t buy it, make it.”
The Beestons, including Adam’s brother and father, are certified bike nuts, having owned more than 250 bikes over the years. As Adam says:
“All have been maintained, chopped, changed, crashed, and straightened by ourselves with multiple cups of teas and basic tools.”
From the beginning, Adam had a clear vision for this 1976 Yamaha TT500 supermotard build: retro styling mixed with modern handling, preserving the factory look at first glance. To us, this is the very spirit of the “Retromotard.” The result is a bike that can blast bumpy fen roads and kart tracks with nearly the same gusto as a modern supermotard…but with soul.
Below, we get the full story on this “soulful SuMo.”
Yamaha XT500 vs TT500
The TT500 was the off-road/motocross sibling of the XT500 enduro. Both had the same motor as the SR500. Without tank badging, it can be difficult to discern the difference between the XT500 and TT500 — particularly as parts are often interchanged between the bikes over the years. We are not XT/TT experts, but here’s a partial list of differences from Tommy10bikes of XT500.co:
- Rear frame mudguard hangers are different.
- No toolbox mount or helmet lock on TT.
- Silencer brackets are mounted in a different place on a TT.
- No rear peg mounts on the TT rear wheel hub has no Cush drive on a TT.
- Aluminum brake hub arms on TT.
- Front brake hub smaller on the TT and no speedo drive.
- Anodized rims on the TT.
- Aluminum rear brake plate tie on the TT.
- Seat is narrower at the top on a TT.
- Petrol tanks are Ali and have no reserve also have a male pet tap connection on the TT.
- Carbs bigger on the TT.
- Silencer has no first stage silencer.
- Smaller lighting coil on TT and early ones may only have 1 source coil.
- Chain guides are different and there’s no upper chain guard on the TT.
- No lights on early TT and very little wiring..
- Higher bars on TT.
- Cable adjuster covers different on TT and clamps are Ali finished not black.
- No handle bar rubber damping on the TT.
- Top fork yolk and handle bar clamps different on TT.
- No engine stop on throttle on TT.
- Rear plastic mudguard on TT.
- Smaller side panels on TT.
Yamaha TT500 Supermoto: In the Builder’s Words
Been riding since I was 4. First bike was a Puch Magnum X. My dad is a bike nut, same as myself. Combined, me and my brother and my dad have owned over 250 bikes — TS50’s, XT’s, XL’s, CR’s, TDR250’s, Harleys, Guzzi’s, BMW’s — all have been maintained, chopped, changed, crashed, and straightened by ourselves with multiple cups of teas and basic tools.
The TT came to me as a tired Cali import that had spent its life somewhere dry and in a reasonable condition for being a 1976 mx bike. I bought the bike having a clear picture of what it had to be: retro but with modern handling, and most importantly maintain the original XT/TT look at first sight.
Modified the frame to take the forks and wheels. Converted the rear drum lever to operate a disc. Modified the rear arm to take the disc and get the arse end up so it sat right it ?? Handles awesome through the bumpy fen roads ?? Hand-made exhaust, 40mm Mikuni flatslide pumper, Wiseco high comp piston. Tank was repaired and polished, hand-made seat cover, XT lighting kit, trail-tech tacho, electrics all hidden in bar pad.
Can’t say I had a style influence. I kinda just stood and thought I know what I want to do here same with the SRX I built for Dad and the KH I’ve just started.
The pipe is the most asked question. It was made all hand-rolled and drawn up by my friend who is a insanely good fabricator but wishes to remain anonymous ? and has vowed to never make another. It’s his thing: one-off means one-off.
I think the style is retromotard because I think it is exactly that, but the soulful sumo was massive compliment ??
The workshop is my extended garage ‘n all bikes have been made using massive amounts of Tea and basic garage tools.
Dunno where I’m heading with my builds. Ideally I’d like someone to say: here’s some money and this bike build me something ? To do it for a living would make me a very happy man.