I just did a quick check, and my suspicions were confirmed: we’ve never featured a Yamaha TTR250 build on EXIF. Which is a bit of a surprise, because the TTR250 is one of the toughest off roaders around.
In the mid 90s, the little Yammie was the first mainstream trailie to feature an electric start—and punched way above its weight. Honda’s excellent XR250 was direct competition, but the Yamaha won a lot of fans for its convenience and good manners.
Around my neck of the woods, you often see the TTR250 on farm tracks—and occasionally sneaking around back roads too, sans license plate. But in the right hands, it’s more than just a workhorse: Australian off-road king Geoff Ballard won a national enduro championship on board a TTR.
We’re betting this one looks a lot smarter than Ballard’s though, because it’s the latest build from Brisbane shop Ellaspede—famed for its sharp styling and slick finishing.
“The TTR250 is reliable trail bike, but it isn’t usually your first choice for a custom donor,” says Ellaspede’s Hughan Seary wryly. “So when our client wanted a custom build, he did look at other options—but couldn’t go past his trusty old TTR.”
“Our client John had owned the bike for ten years when he rolled it into Ellaspede, so it was due for a real birthday,” says Hughan. “John knew he would keep the bike forever, and it holds sentimental value for him and his family, so ‘going to town’ on it was the only option.”
The key to using an enduro bike for a custom build is getting rid of all the plastic first, finding a good vintage tank to build the bike around, and changing the wheel sizes for something more scrambler-style.
With a big pile of blue plastic sitting on the workshop floor, Ellaspede combed through the TTR250, checking and replacing bearings and seals that were well worn after ten years of off-road use.
The tank is a 1970s Yamaha TT500/XT500 style unit, custom mounted as far forward as possible without compromising the steering lock. A custom gauge housing has been welded to the top of the tank, filling the space usually left for the TT/XT oil-in-frame filler point.
Ellaspede then cleaned and modified the rear frame. “Enduro frames tend to point up towards the rear, and usually have a bunch of mounts hanging off them for the plastics,” says Hughan. “So flattening out the frame line and de-tabbing was key for a clean look.”
Now the frame was taking shape, it was time for more custom steel work: a new battery box, seat pan, rear splash guard, rear guard, front guard and headlight cowl. An amply padded new seat has a quick release latch for easy access to the battery.
The stock air box, carb and exhaust were all scrapped with custom mounts made for the new Mikuni TM33 carb and Unifilter pod. Exhaust gases now exit through a brushed factory header, custom stainless mid pipe, and a KX500 muffler from DG Performance.
“The standard 21-inch enduro front wheel is great for off road riding, but generally look a little oversize for a classic scrambler,” says Hughan. “So we swapped it out for a 19-inch.” The back is an 18-inch, and both rims are Excel—shod with Shinko 804/805 rubber.
With the wheels and custom guards sorted, the suspension was rebuilt and adjusted to ensure no wallowing or bottoming out. Bright blue fork gaiters now keep the dust away and match up with the new livery.
A swag of less obvious quality parts were bolted up and wired in: Motogadget supplied the indicators, Biltwell the grips, Daytona the mirrors and Velona 80 gauge, and Koso the micro LED ‘Hawkeye’ taillight. The licence plate holder is Ellaspede’s own ‘Ninja Star’ part.
All that was left was to sort of the paint, with a little client input. “John loved pearl white as a base, and also wanted to keep some form of blue—as a nod to the original color way.
“To spice things up an electric blue was chosen for the seat and fork gaiters, and it also features on the tank paint—which fades to a traditional dark Yamaha blue,” says Hughan. Almost everything else was sent off for powder or ceramic coating.
John has always called his TTR250 ‘Blue Thunder,’ but we reckon the name is a bit more apt now. Ellaspede have delivered sizzling good looks—and in the right hands, this Yammie will be lightning fast too.