Team Bullet Bob Moto builds a pair of vintage two-stroke tarmac x dirt weapons…
By the mid-1970s, the Yamaha had revolutionized motorcycling with their dual-purpose DT series — a range of lightweight, affordable, low-maintenance motorcycles intended for both street and trail use. However, the company still didn’t offer what would be considered a “serious” enduro motorcycle — a bike designed specifically for off-road racing enthusiasts. Then came the Yamaha IT (International Trials) series…
The first Yamaha IT appeared in 1976, the IT400. It was immediately competitive on the world stage, winning three gold medals at the International Six Days Trial (ISDT). In the years to come, the IT175 and IT250 would appear, cementing the IT’s reputation as a range of world-class dirt weapons, capable of winning races in the woods and deserts straight off the showroom floor.
In 1984, the Yamaha IT200 appeared, an air-cooled two-stroke enduro built specifically to compete in the 200cc competition class. Dirt riders were immediately smitten with the 27-hp, 211-lb woods machine:
“If you were to build the perfect enduro bike, you’d probably end up with something a lot like one of today’s 200cc enduro racers… Yamaha feels that its entry in that class for 1984 will be even more perfect than ever.” —Cycle World, 1984
Alas, Yamaha killed the IT series after 1986 for unknown reasons. Today, these 200cc enduros have become darlings of the vintage off-road racing scene.
Enter best friends Jared Morris (@bulletbobmoto) and Zac Nesbitt (@mx5digital_widebody), the duo behind this stunning pair of Yamaha IT200 Twins. Jared has been on a self-described vintage two-stroke “bender” over the last few years, mainly working on the bikes of his late father, Bullet Bob — his workshop’s namesake:
“It is an incredible warm feeling rolling up to his RD or the IT with one of his wrenches in his chair and I’m just doing basic stuff to get ready for a show or a race just knowing he sat there in the same chair holding the same wrench working on the same bike. It’s moments like that I have to cherish.”
Jared’s Yamaha RD400 “Bullet Bob Special” was featured at the 2019 Handbuilt Show, while his 1978 Suzuki PE175 was our favorite from the 2019 Victory Moto Show. He’s quickly establishing himself as the young king of vintage smokers, and one of the country’s most promising up-and-coming builders.
For 2020, Jared decided it was time to tackle his dad’s main AHRMA cross country race bike, a 1986 Yamaha IT200S Jared bought back from his uncle. His inspiration? Stéphane Peterhansel’s 1989 Yamaha YZ535 supermoto, built by Team Sonauto Yamaha.
“I decided what better time to do the IT Supermoto build than at the same time my best friend is doing the same bike to race cross country in AHRMA with me?”
Best friend Zac splits his time between Miatas and motorcycles. His last build was a 1980 Honda CB650C that he completely stripped down and built back to new:
“A motorcycle collector in Bolivia had purchased it from me to get shipped over so he could have it in his collection. That itself was a huge compliment.”
At last year’s Barber Vintage Festival, he picked up a $500 IT200 roller and seized motor with intentions of building the bike into an AHRMA cross country mount to race alongside Jared.
“I wanted to build mine staying more dirt-focused while Jared went the Supermoto route for the streets.”
Many nights and weekends in the Bullet Bob Moto shop, stripping the bikes down to the very last nut and bolt, replacing every seal and bearing, and prepping, powdering, or ceramic coating every last metal surface — the latter thanks to the support of Jared’s boss at Custom Coaters Atlanta. What’s more, Race Tech and Lectron came in clutch with the Supermoto’s suspension and carb setups, making it one trick vintage SuMo indeed.
The duo finished the Team Bullet IT200 Twins just in time for the 2020 Victory Moto Show in Savannah, Georgia, where they were displayed front and center. They were definitely stars of the event, and our personal favorites from the show. All in all, we can’t think of a better way for a young builder to honor his late father’s legacy, and for two young men to highlight their lasting friendship. Says Jared:
“My dad had an incredibly similar friend when he first started racing and they built bikes together and even now I still have a great relationship with him. Anyway it’s been amazing to have that companionship in a build and in this case builds and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. Now for race season!”
Below, we get more details on the IT200 Twins from Jared and Zac themselves.
Yamaha IT200 Twins: Builders Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Jared: So as you know I’ve been on a bender doing vintage 2-strokes the last few years — mostly my late dad’s bikes — and I basically just kept walking down the line of the bikes in my garage and after many, many forum discussions and bench racing sessions, I decided what better time to do the IT Supermoto build than at the same time my best friend is doing the same bike to race cross country in AHRMA with me?
My shop space is very humble and small but I make it work. My fiance and I are just a couple of broke kids in our late twenties still trying to figure out what we wanna do with our lives, or at least something more permanent. We gave up the nice house we were renting in our local downtown and moved into a basement apartment farther out in the burbs to save money. My shop is the room right across the hall from my bedroom. I’ve got about 20×30 to play with. It’s definitely tight with all the other bikes haha. Not enough room for a lift so I’m still doing everything off a stand or the kickstand. Thanks to my dad I started with a really amazing set of tools that he had bought and collected his whole life before he passed away and left them to me. It is an incredible warm feeling here and there rolling up to his RD or the IT with one of his wrenches in his chair and I’m just doing basic stuff to get ready for a show or a race just knowing he sat there in the same chair holding the same wrench working on the same bike. It’s moments like that I have to cherish. It’s shit not having a dad in your twenties. It’s a prime time in a man’s life to make it happen for the future. I’ve tried to use working on vintage motorcycles as a way to revisit some of the life lessons he passed on to me.
Zac: My name is Zac Nesbitt, my passion for motorcycles started years ago when I built a custom bicycle with a little 2-stroke motor stuffed in the frame. My last build was a sad 1980 Honda CB650C that I had stripped all the way down and built it back up into something basically new. A motorcycle collector in Bolivia had purchased it from me to get shipped over so he could have it in his collection. That itself was a huge compliment. The last build I completed was done with my best friend Jared in his personal shop. We both have a Yamaha IT200 that we just wanted to build into something great with a little flare. I wanted to build mine staying more dirt-focused while Jared went the Supermoto route for the streets.
My original workshop started in the living room of my college apartment and I have since upgraded to my own personal shop in my new home. I have a 1981 Harley Sportster and a 1984 Harley Roadster that I scored from a man who no longer wanted them both for $1000. The 1981 will be built into an FTR and the ’84 will be brought back to original condition.
• What’s the make, model, and year of these bikes?
Supermoto: 1986 Yamaha IT200SM model — and I add the M for SM
Dirt: 1985 Yamaha IT200
• Why were the bikes built?
The twins were built with both showing and racing in mind. In that order hahaha. I guess to be more specific I have always wanted a Supermoto but never really had the money (all at once) or the credit (bartender life — short lived), so I just decided to build my own with what I had. It definitely helped that it’s a widely talked about concept on the IT forums and I’ll admit usually guys are go big or go home and they want the 465 or 490 version, but tbh I like ’em smaller and more nimble and more manageable and I already kinda had the 200 I bought back from my uncle that was my dad’s main AHRMA cross country race bike. I still built a separate dirt front end that I can swap over — trees and all — to a 465 front end, which includes the dual leading shoe.
• How’d you come up with the idea for these builds? Any influences from past or present?
There are some really amazing ads from Team DG Yamaha from back in the 80’s when these bikes came out and I loved the flair DG threw at the Yamahas, so I followed suit and tried to do my own version, Team Bullet edition.
Another big influence for the Supermoto build was the concept Yamaha YZ535 big bore sumo. Such a gorgeous idea. Bad timing for Yamaha though as EPA restrictions virtually made 2-stroke street bikes and hybrids, if you will, a compete no-go.
• What custom work was done to the bikes?
We took theses bikes completely down to the bones. Every single nut and bolt came off on this build. It’s the first time I can say I’ve done that on a build and be able to include the motor, and not just the top end, haha. I also did every seal and bearing on the bike. I spent many hours after work prepping and powder-coating everything that was metal. From the frame to the brake disc nuts and bolts, I did it.
I asked Scott my boss at Custom Coaters Atlanta to do all the ceramic coating you see on the engines and exhaust systems and he was happy to help with the projects. Beyond aesthetics I shortened the front end on the sumo 3″ to really get it where it needed to be to realistically have any kind of chance at the motard class in SC MiniGP and maybe not come last in the motard class in AHRMA.
In addition to the lowering, I knew that I was still gonna be at a disadvantage with these old-school spring and dampener rod style fork. I got in touch with Race Tech and they were in love with the idea of a vintage 2-stroke Supermoto and were happy to send me a set of springs and a set of Gold Cartridge Emulators. This made my old-school ’86 forks come to life like a modern set of cartridge style forks! An amazing product for vintage bikes or any dampener rod style fork.
The next thing I had to think about was making all this bike come to a stop when I needed it to, so I went with a Magura HC1 radial master cylinder which provides a much better mechanical advantage compared to a traditional OEM. The next item was obviously in the quest for more power. I talked to the folks over at Lectron and they set me up with a carb perfectly tuned for track/road use and thus far everything I’ve heard is true — they are incredible for 2-strokes!
With all that being said, the idea was really to make a factory team edition bike that the pros would have raced in ISDT or ISDE or what have you, but in any case, I really wanted to stay as true as I could to 1986, so I didn’t mess with the factory plastic or the seat or anything like that. It’s an ’86. I want you to immediately know that. I didn’t wanna build a sleeper, haha.
• Do the bikes have a nickname?
Jared: I guess just the IT200SM for me — idk what Zac wants to call his bike but shit it’s his to name! Hopefully he doesn’t pick anything lame ????
Zac: I don’t technically have an official name yet, but it is considered the dirt twin.
• Can you tell us what they’re like to ride?
Jared: As of now I’m gonna have to pull the crank and have my buddy Joe Casola of Saints Cycle Works get it right for me. Gonna be doing a fresh sleeve and taking me back to standard piston. Bummed I had a failure to launch so to speak, but honestly really excited to have a motor from scratch to be able to race for the next couple of years.
Zac: I have yet to have the opportunity to fully ride the bike since I had just finished the build and need to take it through all of its heat cycles prior to taking it for a good ride. I am super stoked to tear up some trails and start racing the IT in AHRMA races alongside Jared when he switches over to his dirt wheels.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Jared: I mean having done all the powder myself really adds something to it for me. From the stripping to the blasting, from the booth to the oven I made it happen. That’s a lot of time a lot of guys miss out on. Having such a rad boss that lets me use the shop services to pursue my passion is invaluable to me and I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish these builds without it.
I also wanna say that it truly was amazing getting to build a bike alongside my best friend and to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to have hold the other side of the damn tire when your trying to get the bead over the rim! My dad had an incredibly similar friend when he first started racing and they built bikes together and even now I still have a great relationship with him. Anyway it’s been amazing to have that companionship in a build and in this case builds and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. Now for race season!
Zac: Absolutely. I am the most proud of how well Jared and I work together to make sure our bikes are built to be top notch. Having someone to work side by side with makes the process more enjoyable especially since we both take great pride in what we do. I am also proud with myself particularly with how much of a transformation I have brought upon this bike since I had first gotten it. I picked my IT up at the Barber Vintage Festival for $500. It was basically just a roller with garbage plastics and a motor that needed a full rebuild. I have built this bike from the ground up with the goal of bringing it back to as close to original condition as possible. It’s wild looking at a 1985 dirt bike that looks brand new.
• Any sponsors you’d like to thank?
Jared: I’d like to thank Custom Coaters Atlanta and my boss Scott Harper for all he puts up with and for all he’s done for me. I’d like to thank Race Tech so much for the suspension setup and the awesome support they are showing for vintage racing and vintage racers. I’d also like to thank Lectron for helping me out with this incredibly sick carburetor and making it perfect for my setup. Thanks Eloy!
Zac: I would like to thank Custom Coaters Atlanta and Jared for all of the beautiful powder coating work. I would also like to thank my wife for not being too angry when I sponsor myself on all my builds ????