Few bikes have provoked such a long-term love affair among riders as the Yamaha SR series. Born in the late 1970s from the XT500 enduro, the street-oriented SR400 and SR500 roadsters were Japanese versions of the old British 500 singles — bikes that had had gone the way of the dinosaur as Triumph, BSA, Norton, and other UK marques shuttered their factory doors.
Part of the SR’s charm was its staggering simplicity. Air-cooled, single-cylinder, twin-shock, and kickstart-only — with a switch to fuel injection in 2010 for emissions reasons — these bikes remained stubbornly unchanged as the world around them went to aluminum frames, traction control, ride-by-wire, and more. They have something no engineer or designer has learned to conjure up on a drafting table or computer screen: character.
The SR has also proven itself as one of the world’s best platforms for customization. Back in 2019, we featured the SR500 “Cafe Fighter” of Youziro, a Japanese architect and SR enthusiast who worked with HILT’S-CHOPPER’Z to create the SR of his dreams.
Fast forward to 2023, and Youziro reached out with the next evolution of this same bike — the ’98 SR500 he bought back in 2016. The bike has undergone a full transformation in the last four years, evolving into a café-inspired build with aluminum fairings and tank.
The 534cc big-bore engine boasts a Yoshimura cam and oil-cooler kit, breathing through a Keihin FCR 39 carb and full titanium exhaust, making for one hot thumper. The swingarm comes courtesy of a Yamaha FZR400, while the forks and triple trees were taken from a Kawasaki ZXR400 sport bike. The bike is rolling on a set of lightweight forged aluminum Gale Speed Type R wheels wrapped in Dunlop GPR300 rubber, while Brembo calipers ensure the bike can be hauled down from speed.
All in all, this is one gorgeous single-cylinder café racer, doubly special because it’s the personal ride of a long-term owner and SR lover. Below, we talk to Youziro for more details on his dream machine.
Yamaha SR500 Café Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Youziro! It’s been nine years since I started riding motorcycles! My job is designing architecture. I made the top bridge, instrument panel, and seat cowl with the extension.
I really like to think about the design of motorcycles, but I’m not a motorcycle builder. I had it customized at a motorcycle shop called HILT’S-CHOPPER’Z.
We hold an SR meeting in Hiroshima.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The bike I used for customization is the Yamaha SR500. The model year is 1998.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design concept of this motorcycle was cafe racer. However, modern swingarm, wheels, suspension, and calipers are used to improve function and performance.
• Why was this bike built?
Since I got my SR in July 2016, I’ve been customizing it little by little. I made it because I wanted to ride it in the shape I wanted.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- Engine: 534cc Piston 90Φ / Yoshimura camshaft ST-1 / Active oil cooler kit / enhanced oil-line kit
- Carburetor: Keihin FCR 39Φ
- Exhaust: Thruxton Full Titanium exhaust system
- Front fork: Cannibalized and modified from ZXR400
- Triple tree: Cannibalized and modified from ZXR400
- Front Wheel: GALE SPEED TYPE-R
- Front caliper: Brembo 65mm 4pot double caliper
- Front brake disc: SUNSTAR PREMIUM RACING 310mm Double disc
- Front fender: FRP fender
- Meters and Gauges: VELONA φ80 / Yoshimura Pro-Gress2
- Steering damper: NHK ODM-2000
- Swingarm: Cannibalized and modified from FZR400R SP
- Rear wheel: GALE SPEED TYPE-R
- Rear caliper: Brembo 84mm
- Rear brake disc: SUNSTAR PREMIUM RACING 250mm
- Suspension: Aragosta piggyback type T twin shock
- Rear sets: Bore-Ace
- Tires: Dunlop GPR300
- Tank: aluminum tank
- Seat: MASUMI original seat
- Side cover: Daytona half side cover
- Fairing: OMEGA Racer Aluminium Cafe Racer Fairing
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
This motorbike is an SR500, but it can easily speed up to 180 kilometers per hour. However, it is easy to ride and guarantees that anyone can enjoy it.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
I’m proud of the handmade exterior.
Follow the Owner
Now THIS is how a classic, true and righteous Thumper Café Racer supposed to look! Phantasicus maximus! Super designed an executed. Congrats Youziro, you’ve got a very special machine!
Now, since I’ve got a similar project in the works, based on a Suzuki DR Big 800, who makes this stunning tank?