Many bikes we feature have lived a rough life before being salvaged by a global array of builders who nurse them back to their best. But this here motorcycle must have been a cat in a past life, as it’s certainly used up eight of its nine lives; left to rot in a backyard, crashed, and even caught on fire. Most owners would have long given up and simply thrown it into the garbage dump. But not Spero Floro, he’s loved this bike for a long time and decided its last incarnation in this body would be on the highest plane of existence. The man behind Sane Motion Moto has gone deep into his bag of tricks to produce one of the best Yamaha SR500s we’ve seen in years.
For Spero his first encounter with the Yamaha came by way of a chance phone call when his brother told him about the motorbike he was taking to the trash. It had been left in his girlfriend’s backyard, rotting away for years, the seat was stuffed, the exhaust like a colander and the aluminium insanely corroded. Spero said to leave it there, rescued the old girl, and despite living in a small apartment kept the bike at his father’s and brought parts home to restore in his living room. This was in the pre-internet days and parts were slowly acquired and the SR built back up before providing years of reliable service.
But with the birth of his first child, then his second and third, the bike was sold to a work colleague. Who of course went and crashed it almost straight away, not even having had time to change the ownership over. So with his kids loving rides on the bike, Spero bought it back, put in some fuel, and started it up to check how bad the damage was…, the Yamaha caught fire! That’s when he decided the bike deserved a total transformation, the cafe racer path was chosen and the build process that was carried out over the years began. “The first thing I did was I bought a set of 1996 GSX-R600 forks.”
But this is no ordinary fork conversion, “I made a frame jig and cut the steering tube off the frame and lathed a new tube to fit the Suzuki steering stem and the Suzuki OEM steering bearings. I changed the steering angle from 27.5 degrees to 25 degrees. I had Cognito Moto make me new triple clamps and I also had them make me a new front hub to fit the forks and use the Suzuki brakes mounted on Warp 9 wheels.” Spero then machined the calipers to clear and set about rebuilding the forks with RaceTech gold valves, emulators, and a set of custom fork springs.
With a front end like that the rear had to be just as special, “I cut the rear section of the frame and custom bent the tubing and raised the angle 6 degrees for a more aggressive look and feel,” he explains. Then a drastically improved aluminium swingarm was fitted and the good folks at Racetech built up a custom set of piggyback rear shocks. Cognito Moto built another hub, this time one that would take a Ducati Monster rotor and Brembo caliper. Before it was built up with another Warp 9 rim and wrapped in a fat 160 section Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyre.
Now it was time to take care of the looks, “I bought a Benelli Mojave tank and modified it to house an aircraft fuel filler. I cut and added 1 1/2″ to the front of the tank for a better fit and cover more of the frame. Then I fabricated the rear fender and machined the fender mount on a manual mill.” At the rear Spero made the cowl out of aluminium and then had @Haverleather in St. Marys, Ontario, make the classic leather seat. The single colour paint job keeps it all looking ultra-clean and more machine work turned out the trick headlight brackets and mounts.
To give the bike the power it deserved Spero spun the spanners on the big single and rebuilt the engine with a Wiseco .030 piston boosting compression to 11:1. The displacement is now 535cc and the camshaft comes from Mega Cams who also harden and resurfaced the rockers for a bulletproof top end. Before bolting it back together Spero gave the head a port and polish and then fitted up a thumping Keihin 41mm FCR carb. It all draws breath through a trick MessnerMoto 3D printed triple velocity stack. And to finish the power plant, “I custom made the exhaust out of 1 3/4″ Stainless Steel to match the angles of the frame,” Spero smiles.
With so much quality work done, now was not the time to go cheap on the accessories and Spero hand fabricated the mounts for the superbike spec Robbie Moto rearsets. “I redid the electrical system using a MotoGadget M-unit and MotoGadget Speedometer and wired the entire motorcycle using Deutch connectors.” While the mirrors, switches, and throttle assembly are all from the brilliant designs of MessnerMoto. A truck and trailer mechanic by day, Spero is now on a roll and is currently building a custom Suzuki GT550 and his Brother’s former ride, a Honda CB750 that he used to get his license on way back in ’78. We have no doubt they’ll be first-class and in his downtime he’s got one hell of a Yamaha SR500 to enjoy.