Custom 1978 Yamaha SR500 Scrambler Calls Itself the 'Sunshine State of Mind'

Federal Moto’s history is rather intricate to say the least. The bike-modding firm started out in Canada under the leadership of Shaun Brandt, to then open a U.S. outpost in Chicago, and eventually make the latter their only base of operations. Brothers Mike and Peter Muller have been running things down in Illinois ever since Federal Moto (FM) came to the States, and they were later joined by Shaun along the way.
Sunshine State of Mind 10 photos
Photo: Daniel Peter
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Now, the bike you’re looking at here acted as somewhat of a catalyst for their collaboration. Sir Brandt moved to Florida around 2015 in search of a longer riding season, and that’s where he met Mike. At the time, the latter worked at a shop called Powder Monkees, while Shaun needed a new custom motorcycle suitable for both Miami’s streets and fun beach rides on weekends. Enter the Sunshine State of Mind.

Just as they had done with the reworked XR650L known as Lil’ Kim, FM’s specialists seem to have taken a bit of inspiration from hip-hop when naming this thing. The sobriquet they chose sounds like a wordplay on N.Y. State of Mind – the legendary track from Nas’ 1994 debut album, Illmatic. Nomenclature and rap history aside, let's go ahead and take a closer look at this scrambled one-off.

The chosen donor was an early Yamaha SR500 from the model-year 1978, and it came in surprisingly good condition for its age. While performing a customary teardown, Mike decided that each and every piece of stock bodywork had to go, as none were suitable for what he and Shaun had in mind. He swapped the original fuel tank with the slimmer and slightly boxier module of a TT500, which keeps proportions nice and tight in the center.

Sunshine State of Mind
Photo: Daniel Peter
At the front end, we now find a Honda TL250’s headlamp held in place via bespoke brackets, but the work performed out back is even more interesting. A handmade looped subframe replaces the factory unit, with tiny LED turn signals and a Bates-style taillight attached to the tubing. Up top, there’s a flat bench seat wrapped in a mixture of standard and perforated black leather, while a subtle electronics tray can be found underneath.

It encases an m-Unit control module from Motogadget, and all this equipment sits on a Triumph Street Triple’s monoshock. As you can imagine, converting the SR500 from twin shocks to a single unit was no walk in the park, but Mike certainly didn’t mind taking on a challenge. For a good bit of extra grunt in the powertrain sector, he installed a Mikuni VM38MM carburetor that breathes through a mesh-covered velocity stack.

Moreover, there’s also a premium crankcase breather filter from K&N, as well as a MotoLanna compression release setup. On the exhaust side of things, Mike installed a TT500’s high-mounted header, plentiful heat protection, and an aftermarket reverse megaphone muffler. Unsprung territory is still occupied by the OEM wheels, but their rims are now cloaked in Metzeler Karoo 3 knobbies for ample grip on dirt and tarmac alike.

Although it may not be their most practical decision, Shaun and Mike chose to refrain from adding a front or rear fender. This keeps the motorcycle’s aesthetic bare-bones and free of any visual clutter, so the cosmetic benefits may just outweigh the drawbacks related to everyday usability. We’ll leave that up to you to decide, because there are still a few important mods for us to talk about before we wrap this up.

Sunshine State of Mind
Photo: Daniel Peter
Over in the cockpit area, the Sunshine State of Mind carries a single retro-looking dial and a Renthal handlebar, which is in turn equipped with Posh switches and Oury grips. Finally, there’s the stunning color scheme executed by a Bolivian artist named Nicolas Lama. The frame and swingarm got wrapped in an off-white finish that looks nothing short of sublime, while the hoops were painted black for contrast.

It’s the fuel tank livery that really captures our attention, though, combining a dark grey base with yellow, white, and black details. With everything coming together, the finishing touches consisted of motocross-style foot pegs and Motogadget m-Blaze turn signals. The pricing aspect of this project hasn’t been made public, but what’s clear is that the Sunshine State of Mind spawned a very fruitful collaboration between Shaun and the Muller brothers from 2016 onwards.

Not long after, Mike and Peter came up with their first build under the Federal Moto umbrella, one which we’ve also covered on autoevolution in case you want to have a look. It’s a snazzy BMW R100 nicknamed The Five, with visual cues taken from the iconic Lotus 77 race car (and John Player Special livery) driven by Mario Andretti in Formula One. Sure enough, that could hardly be any further from the SR500 scrambler we’ve just inspected, yet you’ll probably find it equally enticing, nonetheless.
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About the author: Silvian Secara
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A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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