Sunday, July 11, 2010

1978 Yamaha XS500

I had been looking for a SR500 project bike when I came across this '78 XS500. It is in pretty rough shape and will need about as much attention as the old XT did. I pretty much exchanged a ball of lint for it as the owner was not having much luck getting anyone to take it off his hands. Being a glutton for punishment I stepped to the front of the line and raised my hand. This bike had been stored outside under a tarp for a couple of years, so there is much oxidation. The good news is, about everything on this bike is interchangeable with the XS650 except the engine. Most of the running gear and some of the electronics can be swapped between these models, so finding parts will not be a problem. Plus ebay is loaded with parts for this bike at pretty reasonable prices. I like the look of this bike and they are pretty scarce around these parts. They came in 360, 400 and 500cc flavors, I did not see a single one at Vintage Motorcycle Days, I was hoping to pick up some parts there, but could not track down what I was looking for. I did find a great manufacturer of fiberglass replacement parts though, I'll go into that in a later post, I'll just say his parts are high quality at hard to believe prices.XS500_01
The WrenchMonkees built this hot version of the XS. I'm not heading down the same road they did, but they show what is possible using this bike as a canvas. Don't expect the same build quality as the monkees either, I am not nearly as skilled as those boys are. You can expect some turd polishing and quite a bit of procrastination as the tag line suggest. For more info on the XS500 check out the XS/TX500 Forum.

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Till Next Time..............

12 comments:

Richard said...

The XS500 (and its big sister the XS650) was a bike I really lusted after when I was younger. But they were flawed, and I understand they cannot be made reliable even today. They looked great, though.

Gymi said...

I really like the looks as well. I basically picked this bike up for free. It has twenty seven thousand miles on the clock, That tells me it ran pretty good at one time. It also tells me the engine is pretty tired and needs a good going through.

I've read about issues with this bike too. I have also read that some others get along just fine with them. I am a notoriously cheap bastard and will put my parachute on and bail out if things start getting too sticky. I'm going to get the engine running and see what is what, then probably tear it down over the winter and see if it's worth getting into.

Some people play golf, I play with bikes. I just hope this bike isn't a triple bogey ;)

Richard said...

Free - that's a very good start! I agree, if it's got to 27k there can't be too much wrong with it. Good luck with it.

Gymi said...

It's going to be a long process, but with some luck and careful shopping I'm hoping I will be able to get this bugger back on the road. I think that's why there are so many parts for this bike on ebay, and you don't see any around,they aren't very reliable.

But I like the looks and even if I can't get it running right, I may be able to graft a XS650 mill into a modified frame. I have a plan, and there should be a pretty nice bike at the end of it. Even if it takes me five years ;)

red said...

Man, I think it's sharp in stock condition. The body work reminds me of the RD400 I almost talked my buddy out of. Need to try again, it's sitting in a garage collecting dust (along with a lot of other cool bikes).

Congrats on the new project!

Grumpyunk said...

Gymi, you're one of my heroes. Unlike me, you actually get these things to run again.

Gymi said...

Red,

I think that's the reason I like it too. The styling is very 400 like. I have a soft spot for RD400's Between me and my brother we have owned six. I had a '76 '78 and a Daytona Special. My brother had a '76 two '77's and bought my Special from me and made it into a Monster. After he was done it was the fastest RD I had ever been on. If you get a chance, rescue that 400 from you friend, you will love that bike.

Unk,

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here ;) This thing may look ok, but almost every thing on her needs attention or replaced. I hope I can use the old defibrillator on her and shock her back to life. I’m going to start with the carbs, I’m hoping after rebuilding them I can get her started and get some idea of what I need to do to the motor. Let’s hope your right, and I can get her running again, she’s too pretty to let go to waste. All I want to do is get her into a new dress, put some make up on her and I’ll have me a new dance partner.

Jason - Vintage Customs said...

I hope with some simple tuning she runs well. I've just finished an XS500 and I know that certain parts, the Cam Chain Master Link, are impossible to find, leaving even a simple top-end tear down out of the question. Mine happened to run great but once running I found I have a horrible transmission problem that will more than likely cause me to toss the motor and swap a 650 because the 500 is a mechanical nightmare. If you find a place to get the master link, please let me know.. Best of luck.

Gymi said...

Jason,

I hope your right as well. I just checked out your bikes, nice work man, really nice work. I'm hoping the motor is not too far gone, the guy I got it from swears it ran great when he parked it. Speed and Sport have the link for $23.45. Check them out at http://216.168.60.165/speedandsportinc/index.tpl

Thanks for stopping by.

Jason - Vintage Customs said...

Wow,I've been looking for nearly a year for that part. My buddy had a 500, left it outside for a while and when he kicked it over, I believe he snapped a ring. The bike had compression to start but now has none. I've been looking for that master link since I was working on his bike. Thanks very much! I hope your build goes well. I'll keep checking in. Thanks!!

Gymi said...

I glad that helped you out, maybe you can get your buddy's bike up and running again. I've had so many old Yamahas, more Yamahas than any other brand. So I am always looking for parts. I came across Speed and Sport a few years back. Although pricey, I turn to them whenever I can't find the part I'm looking for anywhere else. I believe they are the largest Yamaha NOS supplier on the planet.

Anonymous said...

I now see high quality aftermarket master links and high quality chains on ebay. Tried one out and love it.

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