The Mutants of Moto: Vol. 1
Tony Blazier

The mutant bike, that oddball creation that pops up every now and again on the Internets like some kind of two wheeled Yeti.

You can find them on online auction sites like Craigslist, usually accompanied by some very eloquent description of its prodigious virtues and performance prowess. New plastic! Completely rebuilt!! Too much to list!!! We all know the drill. Usually the kid listing the bike has no idea what he has, but he is sure the powerband is nasty and it will bring it up in every gear.  

As a coinsurer of over fifty machines (both good and bad) over the years, I am no stranger to the finer points of the mutant bike. In fact, I am guilty of creating one or two myself over the years. Unlike many motocross enthusiasts, I came from a household that hated motorcycles. As a child, I begged my parents every year for a bike, but my Dad steadfastly refused to allow it. He thought motorcyclists were hooligans and the bikes were loud, stupid and dangerous. He was such a zealot in this regard, that he would not even let me have Evel Knievel toys as a youngster. In my house, motorcycles were persona non grata.  

Because of this, I got started pretty late with my motocross obsession. In fact, I did not get my first real motocross bike until I was nearly out of high school. It was a nine year old ’78 CR250R Elsinore that I scored for $250 (Winning!) that I thought it was the baddest thing on two wheels. Of course, by 1987, the Elsie was beginning to get a little behind the times, so I thought the old girl could use a refresh. So what does a high school kid with extremely limited funds do to update his near vintage motocross machine? Grips and graphics, bro.

In 1987, I thought the ultimate motocross accessory was the latest decal from (insert Company here). Every Friday, my moto buddies and I took a ride to all the local bike shops in search of some new sticker to decorate our machines. At one point I counted over sixty assorted decals on my CR, plastered hither and yon in no particular order. In addition to this sticker abuse, I decided that my fire engine red motor needed to be blue (I thought this was super cool on the Suzuki’s at the time, I know, I know…) and that my old Elsinore would look better with a set of side panels stolen off my buddy’s expired KDX. At the time, I thought I had one bad machine, but in hindsight, I was riding a goofy abomination.

So you see, when I poke fun at the bikes that follow, I do it not as some sort of know-it-all smart ass.  Instead, I speak from a position of understanding. I know what it is like to be broke and just want to ride. I know what it is like to try and piece together a bike Winners Take All style from the assorted pieces you can find lying around. I embrace you, moto brother, and your goofy looking CM-XK-RY-ZS 500F.

For our Franken-bike selections, I thought it would be fun to do a little before and after. That way, you could get an idea of what these “beauties” looked like before the bad lipo and botched plastic surgery. So sit back, gird your loins and grab your Dramamine, because I can promise you Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers have nothing on these lovelies.

Just remember, I kid because I love.

Donor Vehicle: 1992 KTM 125 SX


In my mind, nothing goes together like pumpkin and mint, so it is easy to see what our KTM’s owner was going for. Truly, the addition of the black side plate was a wise choice, as it helps to break up the potentially hazardous red, butterscotch and mint green color combo. Bonus points for the bitchin hand guards and complete lack of fork protection.


They say clothes make the man and in this case, I agree. Much like his machine, our proud KTM pilot is sporting quite a hodge-podge of protective gear. The chest protector and shorts combo seems to be an odd choice, but who am I to judge?  For some reason, I see a lot of these old KTM’s floating around the internet, which people have tried to update with the funky butterscotch plastic KTM used in ’96 and ‘97. Personally, I thought it was an ugly color then, and it has not gotten better with time. Why not just leave it white? Also, as anyone who has actually tried to paint plastic can attest, these band aid jobs only last about two rides before the paint starts flaking off. I have studied this specimen carefully and have determined that the front fender appears to have been pilfered from a 96 KTM 250, but in true mutant fashion, I cannot discern the exact origin of the sweet rear fender. I can confidently say that it started off on something else, but not on exactly what. Ride on, KTM warrior, ride on…


Donor Vehicle: 1985 Honda CR250R


At first blush this bike does not seem to actually be that bad off, but the devil is in the details, my friends.  For instance, who needs those fancy schmancy decals, when a jigsaw will do? I imagine this modification was done to improve airflow to the ultra-high output motor. The apparently homemade black seat cover is a nice complement to the candy apple red frame and accentuates the austerity of this serious race machine. How about the passenger peg mounts added to the rear subframe? After all, whoops are always more fun with a buddy!  Sweet little details abound, like the odd circular weld on the clutch cover that serves I-have-no-idea what purpose. Check out that kickstarter. It is actually bent forward, which is something I have never seen. How in the world would this even happen? What about the bullet holes in the side panel, what was this for? Oh, if only bikes could talk, this beast would have quite a story to tell.


Donor Vehicles  (clockwise from top left) 1988 Yamaha YZ250, 1991 Yamaha WR500, 1987 Honda CR250R, 2003 KTM 250 SX, 2002 Yamaha YZ250


Here my friends, we have the work of a true artist. It takes a man of rare vision to see a KTM 250 SX, CR250R, YZ250, WR500 and YZ250 and think MASTERPEICE! This thing is the very definition of a Frankenstein’s monster machine. What in God’s name would even inspire someone to do this? Maybe he was planning to attend a Winners Take All fan convention? At least he left the Yamaha sticker on the swingarm so you would know what just blew by you down the front straight.


My suspicion is that he is about to find a way to graft that Chevy Astro Van wheel onto the back as well…


Donor Vehicle: 1986 Yamaha YZ125


Ah, now here is a bike I can identify with, much like my long lost ’78 Elsinore, this lovely machine has been tarted up with decals galore and some minor plastic surgery. Obviously a Monster athlete and the current points leader, this guy takes his sponsors very seriously. Personally, I’m onboard with everything but the red power valve cover, which really clashes with the green Monster claws.


OK, now here we have a true performance coinsure. Unlike most of the bikes on my list, this one has not received any major plastic transplants. This guy has a 1986 YZ125 and he is damn proud of it. No need to turn it into a blue abomination or magenta mongrel. Nope. He is happy to leave it nice and red, as God intended. Move along, nothing to see here, move along…


Donor #4 1982 Honda CR250R and ????


All jokes aside, this is a pretty impressive piece of butchery. To the best I can determine, this appears to be a ’82 CR250 rolling chassis mated to some ‘70’s era Husqvarna power plant. If not for the ’93 RM250 fenders, this would actually be a pretty cool piece of kit. I truly cannot fathom why anyone would want to create this oddball marriage, but at least it is well done.


Donor Vehicle: 1980 Yamaha YZ250


What is it with people and black motorcycles? On a Trans Am I get it, but on a machine that is going to be run through mud, dirt and grime all day long, it always seems like a poor decision. Even if you liked this sort of thing (which I don’t), the bike will look completely beat in .43 milliseconds. Of course, it doesn’t help that this intrepid owner has chosen to outfit his steed with that funky matte finish “unbreakable” Maier plastic that was all the rage among the early ‘80’s three wheeler set (Remember when you had to drill your own mounting holes? God, this was a pain in the ass). Bonus points for the custom works “banana bend” front brake lever and groovy numbers.


Apparently, the powerbands (in 3rd and 5th gear) were so vicious on this Boyesen reed equipped rocket, that a seat hump was deemed necessary. In truth, I’m not sure if they used the tried and true “loop the sucker out” method to create this “Factory” style seat or the less common “let Rover chew the foam” technique. Either way, the results are impressive. 



I'm guilty of this, too...

Growing up we had a few beater bikes, and one of them was a cobbled-together mutant which was a Yamaha roller with a Husky engine in it. If I remember correctly the engine was an air-cooled 400. One thing I do remember quite clearly is that it had NO rear brake and was thus terrifying to ride up in the mountain trails of Colorado.

That third bike above made up of parts from five other bikes; is the frame from the 88 YZ? It's got to be; I see the WR engine, KTM plastic, seat from the CR, and front end from the newer blue Yamaha. How in the world did you ID all the various components of these bikes? How did you figure out that the frame was from an 88 YZ 250? I actually HAD an 88 YZ 250 and I don't think I would have been able to ID that frame.

Your old-bike kung fu is quite good, grasshopper!