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‘No.55’ Honda CR500 Tracker – Adam Hedges & Earnest Co.

Posted on March 14, 2017 by Andrew in Racer, Tracker. 20 comments

When you think about it, there’s some strange parallels between drifting a car and flat tracking a bike. First and foremost, there’s the complete disregard for traction. Then there’s the loose rear end. Hell, we’ve been to drunken college parties with less swinging rears than these two genres. So it should come as zero surprise to you that there’s quite a few drift builders out there who are also trying trackers. Our mate Nigel Petrie from Engineered to Slide is one. And here’s another – New Zealand’s Adam Hedges. With his C’s Garage drift shop, he’s teamed up with his brother at Earnest Co. to try his hand at a custom tracker build. And what a build it is.

Adam has been fabricating race cars for over 10 years and is also involved in many aspects of the sport. His fabrication workshop, C’s Garage, was born from a passion for metal work and drift cars, and since its inception in 2007 it has become well-known in the drifting scene, both locally and globally.

Adam himself was a professional drift racer for the last two years. This year, however, bikes and building cars has taken priority over the competition. With some spare time on his hands he’s become heavily involved in Earnest Co., his brother’s workwear business. And building tracker bikes too, apparently.

As a matter of fact, bikes have taken a rather strong hold on Adam over the past few years. Since this here Honda CR500 was completed, he’s added two CR250s and a CRF250 to the workshop pre-build lineup. Riding a friend’s clay oval is all he can think about at the moment, which is a mindset we’d find hard to fault.

So, what about the build? “I bought the bike as a completely stock ‘85 CR500 dirt bike freshly imported from southern California,” says Adam. “To be honest it was immaculate, and it took a very strong will to start tearing it down.”

“This was my first bike build after owning plenty of regular dirt bikes in the past. I’ve always had a passion for two-stroke Hondas, and naturally the big 500s have been a dream of mine to own.”

“The idea behind the build was to create a bike that could have been a real 80s Honda Factory flat track bike. So I tried to keep things looking like they would have if they’d come straight out of the factory. Basically, if people could look at the bike and not know what was me and what was Honda, I was happy.”

The Honda’s main purposed is to have fun on dirt tracks, but even before Adam started the build he wanted it to be street legal and he still has plans to get it on the road. But first things first – the dirt.

“I started by building a custom chromoly tubular swing arm that is about 1.5″ shorter than the stock item. The shock is off a Ducati sports bike, but with a softer spring. The only parts left from the original dirt bike are the frame and the motor.”

Next up, he fabricated a chromoly rear subframe to suit the fibreglass Harley XR750-style tail section. The tank is a fibreglass ‘Champion’ style unit from the UK. “For the exhaust system, I kept the FMF expansion chamber that came with the bike, and then I fabricated a new ‘mid pipe’ that joins up to a FMF muffler that’s mounted centrally under the tail section.”

“Up front I’ve got some ‘04 yamaha R6 forks to which I mounted a Brembo caliper off a KTM dirtbike. The rear Brembo caliper is off a Ducati Monster. The CR was originally a drum brake rear, so I fabricated a mount for a CRF master cylinder and made up a new lower-mounted rear brake pedal.”

The bike’s front CRF450 hub is laced to a 19 x 2.15 Excel rim, and the rear YZF250 hub has a slightly wider 2.5″ rim, also from Excel. This was Adam’s first time lacing wheels, so undoubtedly it was a bit of an experience for him. The tyres are Maxxis DTR-1s in a 27 x 7 x 19 up front and a 27.5 x 7.5 x 19 out the back. “Then for cooling I cut up two CR250 radiators, welded them together, and made up some new tanks to suit.”

“Paint-wise, I sprayed the frame, tank and seat myself in a Honda colour scheme that I thought would look right. Lastly, I fabbed up some number boards and cut some vinyl lettering to finish it all off. The only piece of work that wasn’t carried out by myself was the seat. I wouldn’t say that I’m anywhere near confident with a sewing machine, so I left it to an expert instead.”

C’s Garage – Earnest Co. | Photos by Earnest Co.Jason Haselden]

  • John in Pollock

    My heart just skipped a beat from the pure radness. THIS is the true embodiment of the label “tracker” I know it’s not, but I’d love to street legal something like this.

    Oh, the light-switch brutal ass power unleashed to the scent of burning beans… It really gets me right in the feels-

    Ok, now I will go look at the rest of the pics, and read the story. That was just my knee jerk. I may have more to say later.


    • Burning beans? I’ve never heard that one before…

      • John in Pollock

        Castor Beans!!! Mmmmmmmm- Smells like the races!

  • John in Pollock

    Yep, I hope we get to see it street legaled. It will be a weapon. It already is.

  • Dave Coetzee

    Very brave move converting what I would imagine is a rather rare beast.
    But a job very well done.
    Some personal changes I’d make were it mine:
    Longer tank to fill some of the frame exposure between it and the steering head and possibly a wider, more MX style set of handle-bars, unless those fitted are more suitable for a tracker (as I know nothing about trackers)

  • Kevin Tweedy

    wow .. I just got a 1/4 chubb … always liked the expansion chambers on the big 500’s
    to see it exposed like this is art .. would love to hear this bike … if you have any links

  • For me, it’s ALL about the expansion chamber. It’s a work of art, no?

  • Karl Rollin

    I’m more interested in how well it runs with that foam pod filter. I’ve got a 1979 IT250 that I want to build as a retro inspired supermotard but it has no airbox and everything I’ve read seems to indicate that running a 2 cycle engine on pods dramatically affects power output in a bad way.

    • Motomanic

      Especially the last image doesn’t seem to suggest that power (or anything else for that matter) is affected in a bad way :-)…on another note, I’d love to see the IT250 when finished! Sounds like an interesting & very exciting project.

  • Steve Gernhoefer Wow that would be so cool sadly you would never be able to get it road legal in Australia in NZ who knows but it would be difficult

    I have one that I would love to do a similar thing with

    • Steve. Just out of interest, what’s the issue with getting it road legal?

      • Steve Gernhoefer

        The bikes were sold as a pure motorcross racing machine and therefore did not have compliance plates that and the fact that they have no lighting circuit to actually run lights on them as you cannot charge a battery or operate lighting

        • I see. Interesting. Cheers!

          • Steve Gernhoefer

            Honda did release a special model in 2002 called a CR500E that was slightly detuned and had a wide ratio gear box and a lighting stator and circuit but there were only about 200 made

  • guvnor67

    Mad, wicked, crazy! Brilliant! Oh, as you mentioned Nigel Petrie, at the recent Colac Custom Car & Bike show, he had a rather kool Harley in the back of his van. Actually, even the van was kool.

    • Yep. I’ve seen that bike. Very cool. I think it’s a 1967 Sportster, no?

      • guvnor67

        I believe so. It absolutely radiated with character and Koolness. I took a couple of pics of it in the van, but my Stone Age device won’t allow me to upload sorry.

  • Sean

    To me, that blue seat screams 80’s. Love the build, have fun sliding that big two stroke monster!

  • the watcher

    Lovely bike based on an awesome crosser. The real problem with using crossers for specials ( and it’s much the same using factory customs) is the gear ratios are terrible for road riding, and you ain’t gonna iron that out with sprocket sizing. Ho hum.