1978 YAMAHA HL500: THE ABERG REPLICA
WHAT THEY COST
The Hallman Racing HL500 frame kit with
swingarm and necessary hardware sold for
$1000 in 1978. When you added in the cost of a
donor TT500, Simons or YZ forks, Ohlins or Fox
shocks, gas tank, seat and other parts, you rang
up a $3000 investment. Today, Yamaha HL500s
are very sought-after collectors’ bikes and have
sold for up to $20,000.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
In America, the HL500 was always built by
the customer as a kit bike. The best suspension
components would be Fox AirShox and Simons
forks. The wheels from a YZ or a TT500 could
be used, while the alloy gas tank had to be
borrowed from a YZ125C. Most HL500s had
Metzler tires and Sun rims. For the collector,
the original Profab frame and swingarm are
Just about every part that you would need
is available on the open market. TT/XT/SR
motors are abundant, and brand-new replica
frame kits can be purchased from Geoff
Morris Concepts in Australia. Contact them at
At the White Brothers, Dan and I were excited about the release of the TT500 four-stroke motocross bike, but the xcitement faded when we took delivery of the first one
in 1976. Instead of building a serious motocross bike, Yamaha
had designed the bike for the casual trail rider. In hindsight, that
worked out quite well for the White Brothers, Powroll and Protec,
as we all responded with accessories to boost the power, cut the
weight and improve the suspension.
Frame builders like C&J, Dick Mann, Champion and Dallas
Baker soon developed lightweight frame kits that accepted the
TT500 engine and stock components. They fell short of making
the TT500 competitive in motocross.
That would change when Sten Lundin, working with Torsten
Hallman, built a prototype model using a Husqvarna frame.
Lundin then had Profab build a lightweight chromoly frame,
mated to a special aluminum swingarm and state-of-the-art Fox
AirShox. Dubbed the HL500, combining the first letters of Lundin
and Hallman’s names, the whole package weighed 247 pounds.
In late 1976, Torsten Hallman approached Yamaha about
having two-time 500cc World Champion Bengt Aberg race the
HL500 in the 1977 500cc World Championships. The Yamaha race
team said no, but Torsten Hallman went over their heads and got
approval. The HL500 was a huge media success. Bengt Aberg
finished ninth in the 1977 World Championship and even won a
moto in Luxembourg.
The Yamaha race team elected not to support the project in
1978, but Yamaha commissioned the Norton factory to build 200
complete HL500s for sale. In the USA, Torsten Hallman Racing,
now know as Thor, had Profab build 200 frame kits. Torsten
Hallman asked Yamaha to build a lighter four-stroke engine for
the HL500, and Yamaha did— 20 years later—for the YZ400.
BY TOM WHITE