Written by Marlon Slack
Greece’s The Real Intellectuals are a rough group of motorcycle nuts who hawk their goods from downtown Athens. In their shop they sell motorcycle gear and apparel and thousands of beers to local bike nuts. Occasionally they run a madcap dirt event dubbed ‘The Rotten Race’. Not content to just sink booze and watch from the sideline, they teamed up with local shop Urban Mechanics to build an entry, a 1990 Yamaha SR500.
Being the go-to place in Athens for sweet motorcycle apparel it’s no surprise that they’re given a heads up when people are wheeling and dealing in motorcycles. And that’s how they came across their donor bike – the SR500 was sold to them by friend of The Real Intellectuals, Bill Georgoussis, who also snapped the pics you see here.
Now if you’re in the States, your mind may have already been blown by the idea of an SR500 built in 1990, some eighteen years after they were pulled from showroom floors. But Yamaha’s big-ish capacity single remained in production well after the USA lost interest. The Europeans kept on loving the things and the SR, which has its roots back to the XT500, would be perfect for the Rotten Race.
“We wanted the Yamaha to resemble a vintage tracker from the 1970’s,” TRI’s Nikko says, “with classic lines and also some more modern parts to be able to ride it out into the streets”. The perfect combination for a custom ride, if you ask me.
But things didn’t move too quickly. “The bike was in the The Real Intellectuals store for almost a year without moving it at all,” Nikko recalls. “But I was thinking everyday what we could do with it. I always wanted to build a vintage tracker. So slowly I collected all the parts that were needed and asked my good friends at the Urban Mechanics to do it”.
Urban Mechanics is another Athens shop, this one with its sights firmly on producing custom motorcycles. Run by a duo, Michael Kork and Thanos Sinos, they were the perfect pair to take on the TRI’s newest project. But they had only three months to finish the bike in time for The Rotten Race.
Three months is a damn short period of time. In just twelve weeks they stripped back the frame, detabbed it, polished the sidecovers, painted the barrel and head, fitted new rear shocks, changed the controls and everything else that comes with a build like this. But the hardest part was the tank.
“We gave them a chopper fuel tank, but it’s tunnel was too small for the SR,” Nikko says. So the bottom had to be cut and widened to make it fit perfectly to the SR. After that, it was finished with a new coat of paint and fitted with a set of Dunlop’s new K180 tires.
The end result is a tidy little SR tracker that makes our dark hearts glow. It’s low, it’s light, it’s built around a terrific basis and it’s designed to get a little dirty. We’re looking forward to seeing what the Real Intellectuals wheel out for next year’s Rotten Race!