The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle
Rider: David Fruhling, southern Oregon
Age: 60. David’s been riding since 1965, starting on a 1963 Honda Trail 55.
Occupation: Retired mechanic
Rides: 1979 Yamaha SR500, 1976 Yamaha TT500, 1970 Steens Taco 99 mini-bike
David’s story: “Back in 1982, my late best friend and Yamaha TT500 riding buddy had an engine built by Hi-Per-Kinetics in Paramount, California, for his 1977 Yamaha TT500. He was going to replace his somewhat hopped-up 540cc engine, but never got around to it. Another friend bought the engine and put it in his stock SR500. He rode it until he got tired of tickets or something and put it in his storage just outside Santa Paula, California, in a converted milking barn. There it sat for over 25 years, until I found out about it.
“After getting the SR500, I squirted some oil down the spark plug hole, cleaned the carburetor and changed the oil and filter. It started after about 14 kicks.
“I think it’s running 11.5:1 compression. I’ve got it down to one or two kicks to start now. It’s quite the handful to ride putting 43 horsepower to the pavement.
“Next, I stumbled upon a place in Germany (KEDO) that specializes in SR500 parts. Their U.S. distributor is The Vintage Spoke. Their catalog is so full of goodies, I’ve about set the credit card afire!
“I rattle-canned the black paint, pinstriped it gold with tape and had side cover stickers made. I clear-coated it about 10 coats. I’m giving it a somewhat-BSA Gold Star look and feel to it. Back in the mid-1960s, a neighbor of mine had a 1959 Gold Star he’d occasionally take out to the field behind the house and run it back and forth a few times with its megaphone open. I just loved the sound, and I leave my baffle out on occasion.
“The tank reads ‘BSR’ and the ‘piled rifles’ BSA logo on the side covers have Yamaha tuning forks on the rifles instead of bayonets. They read ‘Southern Oregon’ instead of ‘Birmingham.’
“I just ordered a finned aluminum alternator cover and some other goodies for it today. It’s one of those project bikes that may never be done.
“Anyone wanting to bench race can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org”
Photos courtesy David Fruhling: David Fruhling’s 1979 Yamaha SR500 before the restoration (top) and after its “BSR” custom overhaul (bottom).