Drake Speed transforms a farm wreck into CT3 street ripper…
The Yamaha CT was the company’s series of 175cc two-stroke enduros, introduced in 1969 and renamed the DT175 in 1974. Here at BikeBound HQ, we’ve got three of these 175 smokers in the stable, so it’s safe to say we’re fans of the breed. Along with the larger DT-1 250, these Yamaha enduros introduced many a rider to the joys of dual-sporting:
“With increased ground clearance and tires that offered at least a semblance of offroad grip as well as some onroad performance, street/trail motorcycles gave many riders their first taste of mechanized freedom, first in the dirt, and then on the street.” —Motorcycle Classics
At only 220 pounds dry, these bikes are incredibly flickable and fun, though they run out of steam quite quickly, with just 14-16 horsepower on tap.
Recently, we talked to Marcus Drake (@Drakes_Speed) of Nelson, New Zealand, who says he’s been taking things apart and not putting them back together since he was knee-high to a gnat. He picked up this 1973 CT3 as a “farm wreck” — the New Zealand version of a “barn find,” says Marcus. The old two-stroke was in poor shape:
“It ran but had enough piston slap its makers back in Japan could probably hear.”
Marcus says his intention was just to do a top end on the bike, but then, in one of the age-old stories of motorcycling, he got carried away chasing more horsepower. He sent the barrel 7000 miles to Rich’s Taylor’d Porting of Leeds, Utah, for port work, and decided to feed the engine through a modified Mikuni VM34 carburetor and Yamaha Banshee VForce reeds. Meanwhile, the local legends at New Zealand’s Cycleworks fabricated the one-off expansion chamber, and the bike’s running a Vape electronic ignition.
Marcus says the result is the perfect street hooligan machine, offering a wide powerband:
“It now lofts the front 1st-3rd without hesitation.”
We especially love that Marcus left the bike’s original aesthetics intact, creating one sweet restomod. Below, we get the full details on the build and more sweet shots from photographer Daniel Kingsley Peters (@notsdandard).
Yamaha 175 Enduro Restomod: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Marcus Drake (@Drakes_Speed) from Nelson, New Zealand. I was brought up around motorbikes but never paid much attention till I hit my teens. However, I’ve been pulling things apart and not putting them back together ever since I could grasp a screwdriver. It wasn’t until my mid-20s when I really started to appreciate classic bikes. Long story short, I now find myself owning 20 classics to one modern bike.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
1973 Yamaha CT3. (In 1974, they became known as the DT.)
• Why was this bike built? (Customer project, company promotion, personal, etc.)
This was my first classic two-stroke. I rode it, heard and smelt that two-stroke goodness and got hooked.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
It was originally a $200 farm wreck. It ran but had enough piston slap its makers back in Japan could probably hear. What was just meant to be a standard overbore quickly got out of hand into a full resto-mod.
I wanted to keep the modifications semi period-correct and try not to stray away from Yamaha’s original design. Because it’s a beautiful bike in stock form, especially with Yamaha’s “Gold Dust” paint. It has a classic street tracker zing about it.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Full, bare frame strip-down and engine rebuild.
Cylinder sent to Richard Gagnon (Rich’s Taylor’d Porting) in Utah, USA for port work.
Intake opened up for a modified VM34 fed through Yamaha Banshee VForce Reeds.
Vape Electronic ignition.
Wheels re-laced with Excel alloy rims.
Custom one-off expansion chamber made locally by a legend at Cycleworks, NZ.
Fabricated front fender.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
It’s about three gears too fast for those original drum brakes. It’s loud, agile, and refuses to let that front tyre get any sort of wear from 1st-3rd. Pulls like a freight train from the get-go with its wide power-band spread. Power delivery is perfect for the street. Huge grins every time I ride it. It’s a classic small hooligan machine.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
This was my first two-stroke engine rebuild. It’s another classic two-stroke saved and hitting the streets, which you just don’t see or hear much of these days. Made a lot of friends through the vintage Yamaha community all over the world.