The Lightning MK1. Timeless Appeal.

Lightning1Lightning2Lightning3Lightning4Lightning5What better way to encourage youngsters to build their own motorcycles than to show them what can be accomplished using an old, low price bike equipped with a throbbing engine. We want them to start cutting, grinding, drilling, hammering, notching, welding, milling, etc. They will do it if you point out to them the cheap and fun bikes that they can afford and easily acquire, and of course what can be done with them. Doesn’t matter to them that their own custom motorcycles, by modern performance standards, won’t blow anyone away. They just want to have a blast with them. So, make them dream with examples (isn’t it also the job of a custom builder?) and more beautiful machines will be born, more youngsters will ride and the whole industry will be rejuvenated and energized. Although Old Empire Motorcycles is a professional builder with skills and talent well above the average, their customs could be for youngsters these perfect examples of dream machines born from low cost factory bikes.

Lightning6Lightning7Lightning8Lightning9Motorcycling, at its roots, was really about having an engine, a chassis and a couple of wheels. In this case a 1979 single-cylinder 499 cc Yamaha SR500, a model discontinued in the US market in 1981, but sold in Europe and Japan until 1999. It was developed at the time under the design credo of ”easy to use” and inspired – Yamaha admitted it – by British motorcycles. Old Empire based its SR500 on a completely modified foundation, from front to rear. A shortened front, a modified mono shock swingarm and a handmade tail section. The shop fabricated a sub frame onto the factory swingarm, suitable to mount a custom solo Hagon shock used by a Kawasaki ZXR400.

Lightning10Lightning111Lightning11BISLightning11TERThe original rear section was promptly cut off and replaced with a nice flowing unit suitably braced with a second top tube on which the tank now sits on. A set of small vertically mounted LED lights are the new run and brake lights. Although the gas tank looks untouched, its tunnel was reworked higher, positioning the tank much lower of the frame top tube. Triple tree was machined down to accept warning lights and to block off the handlebar mounts. Luckily, engine was sound and work was limited to aesthetics with bead and vapor blasting of the cylinder, casing and carburetor. Black Shuck Custom sprayed the very simple but effective paint job on this type of bike. Old Empire Motorcycles is already tackling the Lightning MK2, a new version of the MK1 that will push this design even further. By the way, if you like it, know that this Lightning MK1 is now for sale. Contact Old Empire Motorcycles(photography Ian Jubbs for Cyril Huze. Modeling by Jacob Young. Clothing by Gibson London – Dr Martens – Southcombe and Scarlett of Soho. Hedon helmet)

1979 YAMAHA SR500
MODIFIED SWINGARM TO MONO SHOCK
CUSTOM HAGON MONO SHOCK
HEAVILY MODIFIED FRAME W/ SECONDARY TOP TUBE AND NEW SEAT UNIT
LOWERED FRONT END W/CUSTOM HAGON SPRINGS
REAR RIM RELACED TO 19’’
AVON ROAD RUNNERS
CUSTOM STAINLESS BIG BORE EXHAUST W/ CUSTOM ENDCAN
MODIFIED CARBURETOR MANIFOLD
RECON CHARGING AND IGNITION SYSTEM
MODIFIED TANK
OIL TEMPERATURE DIP GAUGE
48MM SPEEDO AND TACHO IN CUSTOM MOUNTS W/WARNING LIGHTS
BARLEYCORN ENGINEERING CLIPS-ONS
BARLEYCORN ENGINEERING MODIFIED FOLDABLE REAR SETS
MINI BATES HEADLIGHT W/CUSTOM SHROUD
DUAL REAR LED LIGHTS
HANDMADE LEATHER SEAT
POWERCOAT FRAME AND COMPONENTS
BLACK SHUCK KUSTOM PAINT ON TANK/GUARD/COWLING AND REAR SECTION

Zipper's

9 Responses to “The Lightning MK1. Timeless Appeal.”


  1. 1 Jeff Duval Jan 26th, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Timeless Appeal it is… Neat and a half 🙂 !

  2. 2 Reyn Mansson Jan 26th, 2015 at 9:28 am

    One very nice bike.

    On the bigger issue how do we get the next generation into motorcycles, I have to ask how do we get them interested in personal vehicles. Every year the percentage of under 21 year olds with drivers licensees decreases. They are not learning to drive for a variety of reasons, cost, availability of classes and vehicles and they don’t see the necessity because freedom is no linger defined by mobility.

  3. 3 Harold Jan 26th, 2015 at 9:40 am

    5 Stars Custom.

  4. 4 Rodent Jan 26th, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Reyn
    We didn’t have iPhones and iPads, so we had to interact in person to have friends, we had motorcycles to fulfill our social network and excitement. We hung out with our bikes. Today’s kids text!
    The motorcycle industry had its boom. Now it’s just going to settle down to supplying the available market and do it with its best ability to make quaility products. It’s called progress.

  5. 5 nicker Jan 26th, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    RE:
    “… their own custom motorcycles, by modern performance standards, won’t blow anyone away …”

    Oh i don’t know…..
    Any kid who can come close to turning a stoker into something along these lines in their Dad’s garage is going to “blow someone away” simply by the fact that they did it, instead of sitting around thumbing their i-pad.

    What a cool way to get yourself to high school every day.

    -nicker-

  6. 6 Zenaldo Jan 26th, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Very cool stripped down piece…and not a lot of $$ Id imagine…looks like a riot to ride, for a slightly younger guy…

  7. 7 Blackmax Jan 26th, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Sweet Thumper !!!!

  8. 8 Heavy Metal Jan 26th, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Nice and in the area I live none of those SR500’s if they exist are for sale. Hard one to find.

  9. 9 Sark Jan 27th, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Needs rolled edges on the gas tank.

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