Words and photos by Mark Bennett
In the 1970s I was the proud owner of a Suzuki RM 250A and raced at the old Kamagutza track (now the Canberra motorcycle track Pialligo). A few of the other riders had those great thumpers, the TT500 Yamaha. I automatically fell in love with these powerful four-strokes that seemed to go forever, not to mention the power. The noise of the TT500 was something that you could not miss. Always wanted to change from my RM to one of those TTs but never did.
Many, many years later, along came this Yamaha TT500 for sale from a local guy, Rod Lansdown. In the ’70s and ’80s, Rod was the head mechanic at the local Yamaha dealer “The Stable” and now works as a prosthetic limb engineer at the Canberra Hospital.
This bike was actually sold by The Stable in 1978, and one year later the bike was returned with a blown motor. Rod purchased the bike from the owner and kept it covered in his shed for the next twenty years. In 2000 he decided to start doing a total rebuild of the bike. Not that the bike needed a total rebuild but Rod is one of these guys that is meticulous with everything he does.
Being as keen as he is, he totally striped the TT500 down to the frame. The bike was resprayed and the motor was rebuilt to standard specs with the addition of YZ 465 front forks. I bought the bike with a few items that required replacing and modifying. So, I added a new pipe from GMC (Geoff Morris Concepts), stem seals from the USA, new tank and side covers, fork seals, new plastics and an array of other parts from the US. The TT500 now runs like a dream and is so much fun, just like I imagined when I first saw one thirty years ago.