click here to go back to art's bikes main page



1973 Yamaha AT3



Back in the '70s the wife and I spend a lot of time riding in the woods. It was not competitive riding but just outings during which several family members would spend the day plunking around fire trails, brush, and such.


Her bike was this little 125cc trail bike. It had, of all things, electric start, which made her life a lot easier. When she stalled out in the deep sand, she only had to push the button to get going again.


These were taken about 1976. This is the wife, Sally and Chad, my son.



This is Sally and her sister, Barb.



And this is break time.




In time, riding in the woods got put aside as the job, family priorities, life got in the way. For a while, during the time between selling my

 '66 Bonneville

and finishing the build of the

liquid cool

project for my '69 Bonneville I rode the little Yamaha back and forth to work.


All in all, it was pretty well abused by the time it got set aside and began its nearly 40 years of ignored neglect. Finally, its turn came and the resurrection of this poor little bike began.





The first problem that I had to over come was the fact that it was of little value. Bikes like this were basically "throw-aways" never intended to be rebuilt let alone restored, they were just not worth it. I could see that the most profitable course of action would be to part it out on e-bay. I probably could have netted several hundred dollars doing that. But, it did have sentimental value for me, and more importantly, for the wife.

So, I finally came to terms with the idea of doing a fairly low end restoration, even though I knew I would pour more money into it than it would ever be worth. However, I also knew that I would make decisions based on the fact that it would never be expected to race or be dependable, daily transportation. After all, it has earned it's "retirement". 


And so the rebirth of the Yamaha began.




Years prior I had tried to make a seat cover for the bike as the original was broken and cracked. Back then there was no internet with numerous vendors from whom to purchase replacements. That effort was not very successful. Further, the pan was broken in a couple of places.



I tried to straighten the pan as best I could and welded it back together. Over all the pan was, otherwise, in pretty good shape.


Everything was frozen and rusted in place so lots of soaking with WD40 went on.



Back in the day I had tried to get a little more travel out of the rear suspension with this "cantilever shock mount". All of which would now have to be removed, the frame ground down and sanded to return it to normal.


Finally I got here. Standing there looking at the bare frame and engine it dawned on me that I had not taken any "before" pictures of the bike. I had gotten so caught up in taking "disassembly" pictures that I had forgotten.



Now this is grunge!!


During it's time it the woods it had been ridden through endless puddles, ditches, and even the shore of a small lake. The end result of that was a great deal of water intrusion, evidenced by the rust and corrosion seen on the electrical components below.


Most of this could be cleaned sufficiently to function properly. The exception to this was the  point cam. It was so pitted that I didn't think it was salvageable.  


While I have had pretty good success finding many of the bits needed from the Yamaha dealer this was no longer available. I poured over e-bay for weeks hoping to find a NOS part or even a good, used part but no such luck. Eventually I gave up and made one.



While the rebuild of the engine was going on some of the painting got done.



Bringing me to here.


What that silly cat in the background is up to I do not know.



Along with NOS rims from the dealer came a set of SS spokes from Buchanan for both wheels.





In the end I will have close to half the value of the bike tied up in wheels and tires. Such is the lack of logic in these kinds of things.


Once I had wheels I was able to put together a rolling chassis. This gave me clear evidence of progress. The old handle bars would eventually get replaced with new but were needed here to roll the bike around.




Meanwhile more painting went on.

I thought about the decal kits that I saw on e-bay but they were pricy, and I already had the paint, so the black stripes got masked off and painted along with more bits.


And, more progress on the rolling chassis.




And finally here.


After it was all together I was pleased to find that it started and ran well. The transmission works too but I still have a little drag on the clutch making it hard to get into neutral at times. I'll have to see what I can do about that when I have the time.







And, the wife is pleased, that's all that matters.