When Jacky Vimond and Kjurt Ljungqvist rolled to the start line of the 1988 Motocross des Nations at Villars Sous Ecot in France, one local youngster was smitten with their radical, watercooled factory bikes. With an aluminium frame and airbox, the bikes were years ahead of development – almost a full decade before anyone else put an alloy frame on a production dirt bike.
That young man was Emmanuel Leschaeve, and he decided on the spot that as soon as Yamaha put the YZM500 into production, he’s buy one. That never happened, as the factory shelved the bikes and made even factory riders campaign aircooled ring-dingers using steel frames right through the 1990s before axing the open class bikes. Emmanuel was gutted, but more than 20 years later decided he’s make a replica of the bike himself.
With no blueprints, he studied photos of the bikes and taught himself to weld aluminium so he could make the frame, airbox, fuel tank and modify the suspension. With no watercooled Yamaha 500cc motocross engine ever made, he was forced to use a disguised Honda CR500 powerplant.
He now races the bike weekly, and has even made friends with the real YZM’s rider from 1988, Finn Kurt Ljungqvist who checked out the bike at Farleigh. See what both men had to say about the bike in our exclusive video.