1979 Yamaha HL500 Replica
Down here in Australia, winter is starting to draw in. We don’t get bad winters—certainly not cold enough to warrant having a ‘riding season’—but when I saw these pictures, I immediately thought that a little snow’s a good thing. Especially if you have a supercool 70s vintage motocrosser in the garage. Like this Yamaha HL500: a bike that’s rare, highly coveted, and talked of in hushed tones. And fair enough: it was the last truly effective four-stroke bike to win a Grand Prix, before the two-stroke domination began. The ‘HL’ is a reference to the Scandinavians who helped make this Yamaha famous, notably ‘Mr Motocross’ Torsten Hallman and Sten Lundin, although it was Bengt Aberg who grabbed many of the headlines. The motorcycle in the pictures comes from Husky Restorations of New York, a company that specializes in meticulous resto-mods of vintage dirtbikes. It took them three years to make this HL500, using a TT500 engine, YZ400 suspension, and the fuel tank, fenders and seat from a YZ125c. Most importantly, the frame was built by Geoff Morris Concepts (GMC)—one of the best vintage motocross frame experts out there. I’m no expert on the intricacies of vintage dirtbikes, but I know what I like—and I like the look of this bike very much. Methinks it’s time to get a little log cabin up in the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney, and put an HL500 replica in the garage. Just the thing to blow out the cobwebs of the working week on a crisp, clear Sunday morning. [Check the Husky Restorations website for a terrific array of images, including Husqvarna 360s and 400s owned by Steve McQueen, Bud Ekins and Bent Aberg.]
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