Words: Alex Horvarth | Photos: Kurt Teague

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this 1996 YZ250 was rescued from a shed, restored to its former glory and saved from a lonely life of paddock bashing in the process. Here’s the rundown of how Danny Ham’s weapon came back to life…

Every rider who has ever slung a leg over a bike and raced motocross would harbour fond memories of each and every machine they’ve owned. So can you imagine Danny Ham’s excitement when he got the call to let him know that his 1996 CDR Miller Yamaha YZ250 had popped up on eBay? Apparently, it was in good nick, too. “1996 was the first year that I had stepped up to the 250 class and it was also when I really started getting results,” he recalled with a smile on his face. “This bike also became pretty famous after I rode it in my part in Terrafirma 3 – an international-profile film series produced by Fox back in the day.

“I rediscovered this bike when Barry Cockle emailed me a link to the auction page on eBay. I was dead set on getting hold of it as soon as I saw it. I had to battle it out with this other guy, who just wanted to buy it as a bush-basher for his kid. Unfortunately, he beat me!”

Danny wasn’t going to just leave it at that, though: “My fiancé, Shelley, called the person who won the auction and explained the bike’s history and significance. He said he was cool to sell it on to us, with a little extra cream in his pocket of course. When we picked the thing up, we were just amazed at the state of it. All the stock – or original, I should say – parts were still on the bike. I think it had just been sitting in the guy’s shed for seven or eight years.”

Once Hammy had the bike back at home, work to begin rebuilding and restoring it started straight away. “Because I’m not all that mechanically minded, I took the bike over to the guys at Axis Motorsport. They did an awesome job and helped me out with re-servicing the suspension, finding parts, etc. They really helped me out a lot and the bike has come out better than it was back in the day.” So 18 years on, just how well does the bike ride? Read on for an insight into the parts and work that’s been done to the infamous YZ, plus a ride impression from current MX2 YZ250 pilot, Errol Willis.


The original custom Miller graphics were the trademark of the Miller team and were what made them so renowned. The originals were made by Clayton Chapman, a sign-writer from Dural. Hammy got brand new decals and plastics custom-made from photographs, thanks to the guys at Nine Two Decals.


Danny liked a very broad range of power back in the day, and the ’96 YZ250 offered plenty of horses to spread around. Without access to the factory parts – or knowledge – that today’s teams have on hand, Rob Twyerould and his crew had to do all the work themselves. To restore it back to a reasonable condition, Danny and the guys at Axis motorsport rebuilt the top-end, but left the rest of the engine mostly as it was. The head still has the engravings it had back when it was Hammy’s race bike.


This one-off, custom Recaro Racing seat is the exact seat cover and foam that was found on the bike when Hammy still raced it. Considering the bike’s been sitting in a shed for quite some time, it’s in pretty remarkable condition. The Recaro deal came to fruition due to some connection with the mercurial Dave Mann back in the day. Apparently, all the race bikes and the team truck had Recaro seats custom made. Not bad, right?


Just like the engine, all of the suspension tuning was done in-house. Danny says that the shock and forks have been revalved, and are now incredibly soft compared to the way he would have had them originally. Rob Twyerould mentioned that testing was a big part of the development of these bikes, and the team worked hard on getting them dialled for both motocross and supercross.


Very little work was done to the brakes. The rotors are stock, and the set-up isn’t any different to the bikes that rolled off the showroom floor in the ’90s. Back then, they were the best you could get, but these days they pull up a little slow in comparison. The team played around a bit with the pads but kept everything else standard.


Hammy tried his hardest to sort the same pipe and muffler as the team used to run from Mitch Payton and the Pro Circuit crew, but to no avail. He wasn’t content to give up at that though, so he dug through pages and pages of exhausts in the eBay vortex and found just what he was looking for somewhere around page 48 of the ‘Parts and Accessories’ section.


The cockpit is in much the same trim as it was back in 1996. New bars have been added for safety, but overall the set-up is no different than it was back in the day. Rob says that Danny was always pretty neutral with how he liked his bars and levers – he ran them pretty level, rather than down like everyone did back then, but nothing crazy.


These gold babies are the original rims. They’re still in great condition, with only cosmetic scratches. Danny fitted new spokes for look, but says the wheels couldn’t be in better shape. The team had the original stock rims anodised in gold to make them look trick and maintain that signature Miller colour scheme.

This content was originally published in the Septemeber-October issue (#46) of Transmoto Dirt Bike Magazine.