Two-stroke twin tracker from Colorado!
Introduced in 1968, the Suzuki T500 was a 46-hp two-stroke parallel twin that would be marketed as the Cobra and Titan over the years. Though it was known to be fuel-thirsty, returning just 30-35 mpg, the big-bore smoker was well-engineered, nigh-bulletproof, and surprisingly smooth at low revs:
“As the largest production two-stroke twin since pre-war England’s water-cooled Scott, the T500 defied conventional wisdom by pursuing a different direction in motorcycle development.”
Enter our new friend Alex Krill from Denver, Colorado, who grew up around the race track, watching his parents race a BMW 1600. At 19, he bought a basket-case Vespa…
“I restored it and from there the addiction was real. I haven’t ever really stopped. I always worked out of my garage until about 6 years ago.”
Alex was co-owner of Threepence Moto before opening A.K. Cycles, a full-service restoration and custom shop. He’d had this ’71 T500 sitting around for a few years…
“When I got this thing it was a frame with a seized motor. It looked like it had been sitting at the bottom of a lake. It’s always fun to see something so haggard brought back to life.”
He submitted the build to The Greasy Dozen show, was picked as one of the builders, and hard went to work.
“My whole idea for this build was to do things I had never done before.”
That would include metal bodywork, aluminum welding, making an expansion chamber, and his first real paint job. The result is one mean smoker, a big-bore two-stroke that’s properly fast and scary. Says Alex of the riding experience:
“Fucking horrifying. It has drum brakes all around and is way too fast.”
Aptly enough, Alex has considered naming the bike the “Death Trap.” Below, we get the full story on the build, and more gorgeous shots from Ladd Forde Photography.
Suzuki T500 Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Alex Krill from Denver, Colorado. I basically grew up at the race track. My parents both raced a BMW 1600 so I was around motorsports from a young age. I always liked motorcycles but my mother was terrified of them. I bought a Vespa 90 that was a full basket case when I was about 19. I restored it from there the addiction was real. I haven’t ever really stopped. I always worked out of my garage until about 6 years ago. I was co-owner of Threepence Moto until my partner and I went separate ways. I now own A.K. Cycles which is a full service, restoration, and custom shop.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
This thing started off as a 1971 Suzuki T500.
• Why was this bike built?
I had this thing sitting around for a few years and always had some ideas for it. I submitted it to The Greasy Dozen show and was picked as one of the builders. I just wanted to make something fast and fun out of what little I had to work with.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
My whole idea for this build was to do things I had never done before. Never had done much metal working. Never welded aluminum. Never made an expansion chamber. I wanted to keep the parts all period parts and nothing modern on the whole bike. I had thought of a few ideas for it but decided in the end I wanted a street tracker with a monocoque body based very loosely off the old tracker tanks and tails of the 70s.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- The bike has a shortened subframe
- Full aluminum one piece tank and tail
- Ceriani front end with early CB350 wheel
- Custom 2 into 1 exhaust
- .5 over pistons
- Mikuni flat slide carburetors
- Custom oil tank
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Not yet but I’m leaning towards the Death Trap.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Fucking horrifying. It has drum brakes all around and is way too fast.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I had never done any body work like this before and never welded aluminum. My scrap pile is the same size as the bike. Never tried to do a real paint job either so that was an experience.
When I got this thing it was a frame with a seized motor. It looked like it had been sitting at the bottom of a lake. It’s always fun to see something so haggard brought back to life.
Follow the Builder
955 Decatur st. Unit M.
Denver, CO 80204