Among the many custom options available for motorcycles today is the street tracker. These sleek looking bikes pay homage to the glory days of flat track racing by emulating the pared down look of a dirt tracker, but come with everything you need to ride on the streets legally. Whether you’re building up a bike from scratch or looking to buy from a custom shop, a street tracker will turn heads anywhere you ride.
The First Street Trackers
Street trackers can be traced back to the 60s and 70s when the AMA Grand National Championship, also known as flat track racing, was the premier motorcycle racing event. These were the days of legendary flat track riders such as Dick Mann, Mert Lawwill, Gene Romero, and Kenny Roberts.
Many riders of the day loved their flat track machines so much that they wanted to take them out on the streets. Of course, true flat track bikes are missing a few components that street legal bikes have: lights, mirrors, horn, front brakes, etc. In addition, they aren’t build with some of the conveniences of production bikes. For example, many require bump starting which would get old pretty quick if you were using the bike as a daily rider.
Nevertheless, these enthusiastic flat trackers made the necessary modifications to get their bikes registered and plated. It didn’t take long before more casual riders wanted street trackers of their own.
What Makes A Street Tracker
Those looking to build street trackers of their own usually start with an off-the-shelf bike (such as the XS650) and swap out parts to get the flat track look. To get the look just right there are a few essentials you’ll need. You’ve got to have the wide handle bars flat track riders use for better leveraging around the corners.
Next up is the small gas tank, which on many street trackers is modeled after one of the most classic flat track bikes, the Harley Davidson XR750. The custom gas tank leads into the slender race seat and minimal fender with just enough room to cover your taillight.
A proper street tracker will sport 19” wheels with wire spokes to keep things light, but many run cast wheels. For the final touches, you can throw on a front number plate and some fork guards to make it look like you just came off the track.
Popular Street Tracker Platform
One of the most popular platforms for street trackers is definitely the Yamaha XS650, with its reliable vertical twin once used by Kenny Roberts on the track. A huge number of these bikes were produced during the 1970s, so they should be no problem to track down. A popular street tracker kit for the XS650 is available from Omar’s Dirt Track Racing, Inc. The single cylinder Yamaha SR500 has also become a favorite among street tracker builders in recent years.
The Harley Davidson Sportster is another hugely popular street tracker platform. In fact, you can just buy the XR1200 which is based on the legendary XR750. However, if you’re looking to build up your own street tracker, Phil Little Racing is the place to go for Sportster Dirt Track conversion kits.
Street trackers are definitely not limited to these few bikes. We’ve seen great customs built up from Honda twins, Triumph Bonnevilles, and the Suzuki DR650. One of the gnarliest street trackers we’ve seen in recent times is a Ducati Desmosedici built up by Roland Sands. It all depends on your personal taste and how original you want to be with your design.