Dan Duncan’s Yamaha XT 500 Cafe

| May 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

I received this today from reader Dan Duncan.  Since my next two project bikes are XT500s, I was really excited to see what his experience has been.


I live down in Utah County and have been into old Harley’s for a few years now and after getting married and having a couple kids I ended up selling my bikes.  We all know how these machines get into our blood so of course I started getting the itch again very soon.  I had been browsing the web for a cheap bike that I could molest and fell in love with the Yamaha SR500.  After looking around a bit for one of these bikes for sale I realized that they were just way too hard to come by in the states but I then discovered the XT500.  It is basically the same motor but dressed in a more off-road trim.  I ended up finding an 81 XT500 in Idaho for a few hundred that was running and seemed to be in decent shape.  Apparently it was an old Forest Service bike so it was a bit beat up and smoked a little but it was a good start.  Here’s how she looked when I brought her home:


 I cleaned the carb real good and put a new front tire on and rode it like that until the winter.  I wanted to do a sort of cafe/tracker type bike but I still wanted to ride it as much as possible and have a really tight budget so I started making small changes.  I threw on a new mikuni vm36, a battery eliminator, welded up a new exhaust from a Hoos Racing kit, new bars with a bar-end mirror, and a 12v lighting conversion. 


 I was riding the crap out of it and I got sick of it smoking so I decided to do the top-end.  I figured while I was in there I would upgrade some stuff so I had Grim Cycle in Orem bore the cylinder for a Wiseco 88.5mm 10:1 comp piston, do a valve job, and install new valve springs and seals.  I shot some paint on the jug and head and threw it all back together and she started right up on the first kick!  Its not burning or leaking a drop of oil so I am a happy camper. 

 I think I will ride it like this until next winter but I am planning on swapping the frontend for one from an XS750 so I can have a disc brake and then I’ll need to figure out a new seat/tail.  Anyway, here is how she sits today:



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