Interval Appropriate: Union restores a 1971 Yamaha TR2B racer


It takes a particular cocktail of talent, data and reverence to revive a basic race bike correctly—particularly if it’s a uncommon one. It’s a recipe that Mike Watanabe and Luke Ransom know off by coronary heart. They run Union Motorbike Classics out of a barn in Nampa, Idaho, the place they concoct the handsomest of restorations and customs.

They’ve a knack for locating classic bikes with deep backstories too—like this race-bred Yamaha TR2B. Initially constructed and raced by AMA and Australian sports activities Corridor of Famer, Kel Carruthers, it will definitely made its approach into Union’s arms in want of restoration.

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
Born in Sydney, Kel Carruthers was neck deep in racing and wrenching on bikes earlier than he was even a teen. As an grownup he discovered a measure of success racing in Europe—like successful the 1969 250 cc motorbike Grand Prix championship. He would later information Kenny Roberts to a number of nationwide and worldwide titles, as his crew chief.

However earlier than the Roberts period, Yamaha enticed Kel with a proposal to race within the USA in 1971. He was partnered with one other racing legend, the late Don Vesco, working a pair of modified Yamaha TR2Bs.

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
In the event you don’t know the TR2B, it was the successor to the TR2—an over-the-counter race bike first bought by Yamaha in 1969. The TR2B got here out two years later, with a revised compression ratio that bumped the facility up from 54 to 56 hp, in a machine weighing 115 kilos [254 lbs].

The Vesco group bikes had been sooner although. Don and Kel labored their magic on them, with Kel rebuilding the engines with specifically ported cylinders, amongst different issues. The fellows every owned one of many Yamahas; the one you’re right here was Don’s.

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
“It was ridden just a few occasions all through the 70s, and put away in storage nonetheless retaining the Carruthers ported engine,” Luke tells us. “Don traded it within the 90s for a 60s Pontiac GTO for his spouse. The brand new proprietor put in an aftermarket fairing (the unique Vesco fairing was lacking), and it was ridden as soon as in 1996 at a classic occasion by Cal Rayborn Jr.”

The Yamaha’s present proprietor bought the bike in 2018, earlier than discovering itself in Union’s barn for a full restoration. However with out the unique fairing, Mike and Luke had their work lower out for them.

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
The answer got here from one other basic motorbike restorer and retired racer, Mark Seifried. Mark had beforehand purchased and restored Keith Mashburn’s 1972 Yamaha TR3 racer, and was beneficiant sufficient to mortgage the Union guys the fairing to repeat.

“Mark additionally has the ‘monitor notes’ for a lot of of Vesco’s Seventies bikes,” provides Lukes. “These notes are organized by VIN quantity and embrace dates, tracks, jetting, miles on machine, who rode what bike, and different information. The 900501 machine (this machine) is in these notes, with Carruthers because the rider.”

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
The TR2B and TR3 share the identical higher fairing part, so Union used the borrowed half to make a mildew for that. For the decrease half, they studied photographs of the bike Kel raced within the 1971 season to duplicate it as faithfully as doable.

Subsequent, they repainted the Yamaha’s OEM aluminum gas tank and Vesco tail part. However they resisted the urge to reupholster the seat, choice to refit the outdated cowl as an alternative. “We thought the unique patches had been too cool to switch,” explains Luke.

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
Going deeper, Union rebuilt the motor by sourcing engine elements from useful suppliers like Theo Louwes Racing and Mead Velocity. However they didn’t dare mess with Kel’s unique configuration.

“Internally, the engine is ‘as modified by Kel Carruthers’ (confirmed by Kel himself),” says Mike. “The port work is a masterpiece. Kel’s porting and engine tuning was leading edge on the time, which is one cause why Yamaha was so all for using him.”

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
Union have been recognized to throw refined curveballs into their resto jobs, however this one is as true a reproduction as you’ll discover. The Yamaha’s chassis nonetheless has the unique mods and engine brackets that Don made in 1971. The exhaust’s growth chambers are unique too, although the silencers had been added a while between then and now.

Union additionally restored the controls, suspension, brakes and wheels, utilizing new N.O.S. spokes on the again, and re-plating the spokes and nipples on the entrance. The one actually ‘fashionable’ elements are the ignition and the tires.

Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics
It’s been painted precisely like Kel’s race bike too, proper all the way down to his quantity, his identify beneath the display screen, and the gold-leafed ‘Vesco Yamaha’ group logos on the fairing. All that’s lacking is a number of sponsor stickers.

It’s one other smash hit from the dream group at Union Motorbike Classics. We don’t know what its proprietor intends to do with it, however it could be a crying disgrace if this fantastic machine didn’t make its approach again onto the race monitor.

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Yamaha TR2b race bike restoration by Union Motorcycle Classics



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