Yamaha TX500 "Jailbird" by Joe Cooper
Yamaha TX500 "Jailbird" by Joe Cooper
13 Apr Custom
Sponsored by Moto Animals

Joe Cooper, the mastermind behind Cooper Smithing Co., has recently unveiled his latest custom build, the 1974 Yamaha TX500 "Jailbird". While many custom motorcycles focus on extravagant paint jobs or flashy finishes, Cooper's approach prioritizes functionality and performance. After winning second place for his Harley-based "Jefferson" in the AMD World Championships, Cooper dedicated his time to the Yamaha TX500, revamping the bike from the ground up with hand-formed bodywork.


The TX500 was a groundbreaking bike at the time of its release, featuring an inline twin engine with dual-overhead cams and 4-valves per cylinder, all packed in a lightweight frame. Cooper took this sleeper and transformed it into the "Jailbird", a custom hot rod that combines stock elements with new features for an even quicker ride and improved throttle response.


The "Jailbird" includes a small tail-mounted lithium-ion battery that uses thicker 16ga cloth-wrapped wire to decrease voltage drop-off and increase performance. The shocks are repurposed stock, arranged in a cantilever configuration using a custom-fabricated swingarm that centralizes suspension forces and cleans up the back end. Most of the additional functional elements were restored to stock specifications, resulting in a dependable and factory-approved custom ride.


The bike's sheet metal is one-of-a-kind, with hand-formed bodywork that includes a custom front fairing and a sport tail section. Cooper trimmed off the excess fat to save weight over the stock bike, resulting in a quicker and more agile ride. The bike also features new points, condensers, plugs, and wiring harness, making it easy and dependable to kick over, while also including an electric starter. Overall, the "Jailbird" is a testament to Cooper's dedication to creating a bike that not only looks great but also performs exceptionally well.

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