The Yamaha DT175 is one of those classic bikes that look ‘just right.’ With a small tank, fat seat and raised fenders, it’s a pint-sized enduro machine that screams fun.
The DT175 we’ve got here, however, was most definitely not looking good when it rolled into the workshop of Sabotage Motorcycles in Sydney, New South Wales. It was rough around the edges and very tired—as you’d expect of a two-stroke that’s almost half a century old.
This didn’t faze Giles Colliver and Andy Dorr, who have been running Sabotage for the past five years. It’s their bread and butter, because they focus on restorations and restomods, mostly on pre-80s Japanese bikes.
As well as engine work and metal fabrication, they’re happy to tackle electrics and wiring too—an aspect that many shops prefer to farm out.
“We were contacted by a guy who wanted his DT175 made road legal, and more exciting to look at,” says Giles. “He loved the fact that we only do vintage motorcycle builds, and thought we had a slightly ‘different’ approach to things. So this 1978 Yamaha fitted that bill nicely.”
Sabotage’s client is ex-military, and had to leave the service due to PTSD. “He has a very creative side to him,” Giles says. “He now builds custom cruiser bicycles, and converts some of them to e-bikes.
“He knew what he wanted with the DT175, but still gave us plenty of freedom with the design. Which is very important to us, because our process for building bikes is quite fluid.”
With the Yamaha in the workshop, Giles and Andy had to tackle plenty of rust, and figure out which bits were missing. But the single cylinder two-stroke engine ran beautifully.
The most glaring issue was the tank. It wasn’t the original DT tank, so it didn’t sit properly on the frame. “We adapted the frame quite a bit so the tank would sit securely, and level. Which then led to the seat design.”
Sabotage have retained the slight upkick of the stock DT175 bread loaf seat, but the new pad is slightly slimmer and shorter. Upholstered by Sydney specialist Bad Arse Trim, it fits snugly into a shortened new rear frame loop—which improves the proportions of the bike without sacrificing practicality.
The original chrome rims were rusted through, so the guys replaced them with new aluminum rims and spokes, and reconditioned and painted the original hubs.
The fenders and mounts are hand-made, and look much more integrated than the 1970s originals. “We spent a while working out the correct radius of the fenders, and the correct height for them to sit,” says Giles.
“This is a bike meant more for road use, so we didn’t want the fenders sitting too high—we wanted to blur the dirt bike/road bike image of this DT.” The raw metal finish looks much classier than thick plastic, too.
In keeping with the new road registration, Sabotage stiffened the rear monoshock to give a more stable ride. Then they rebuilt the tired forks to take out the slop and keep the damping smooth. Right above them is a new speedo, embedded into a hand-made aluminum housing. Wiring now runs through the bars for a super-sano look.
The engine was strong, so the internals are unmolested. It has plenty of two-stroke punch to push the featherweight Yammie around—contemporary reports put the dry weight of the stock bike at just 220 pounds (100 kg).
Sabotage have reconditioned the exhaust though, refinishing it with matt black heat resistant ceramic paint, and made a new heat shield from stainless steel.
The final touch is a discreet one: the enormous rear light cluster of the stock DT175 has gone. “We made an aluminum housing for a brake light, making sure the position of the light was not only legal, but also proportionally correct,” says Giles.
With crisp new paint by Smith Concepts—one of Australia’s top custom car and bike paint shops—the little DT was finally ready to hit the road.
“We set out to make this bike usable, minimal, and functional,” says Giles. “And lots of fun. I think we achieved that.”
We reckon they did too. This little two-stroke probably won’t see much mud in the future—but blasting around the streets of Sydney is a mighty fine way to enjoy a second wind.
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