Monday, April 22, 2013

The Tourer, The Racer, The Dual Sport Maker

Quite a few people are faithful to one brand. Be it Harley, BMW, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, you get the picture. Myself, I'm a motorcycle Lothario, my head is easily turned by many different brands and all types of bikes. While I do find that a certain type of bike kinda gets my blood surging more than others. That would be the UJM, I have always loved naked Japanese bikes. The super bikes of the late seventies early eighties are my most desired rides.

Enough about me, let's take a look at Jimmer. He still has the Yamaha XS500 that he bought way back in '78. Thirty five years, a lot of us don't keep the same bike for thirty five months much less 35 years. It's not that Jim doesn't like other bikes, he does. I even have a picture of him drag racing a Kawasaki Z1000. But there is something about the XS that strikes a chord with Jim. He has adapted this bike for touring, road racing, drag racing and now, believe it or not, he has transformed it into a dual sport bike. Lets let Jim pick up the story from here.

I bought the bike in High School-brand new XS500. First road race-Road America, 13th overall out of 84 teams. After sport touring all over the Midwest, I returned the bike to stockish.

I was fortunate enough to grow up around bikes, cool cars, aircraft, most all motor sports and racing. My Dad, Uncles, Brother, and all his friends gave me a horsepower fix at a young age. By the time I was in high school I new twisty roads were my "thing". The XS was a sweet handler [RD Yamaha type chassis]. I drag raced all through high school, started road racing in 1981. The XS500 got the attention of many people when we placed 13th overall in what was the largest endurance race in the USA. My friend Bob Benedum and I finished 13th out of 84 bikes, all but one[GS450] were much faster/bigger bikes

After road racing for 4 years I did all street riding. The 500 covered every square inch of Wisconsin numerous times, and most of the Mid west. I really liked taking back roads en route to my favorite campsites/camping trips. Fast forward to 1996 and we are now living in Oklahoma, I new right away I needed a dual sport for the awesome dirt roads, AND I was within 1hour 25 minutes of 3 drag strips, so the 500 came off the street and went drag racing only, until this year. I never had the head off the motor until 2011! I have run stock carbs, stock carbs with a gutted air box and rejetted, Suzuki T500 carbs and the 36mm TM Mikunis which have been on forever now. For exhaust the stock exhaust is awesome [but heavy] on the street. It provides fantastic roll on torque with proper carbs and gearing.

I then add a CR500 Honda moto crosser to my spare chassis ,bike hauled azz but really needed a 6 speed or a wide ratio transmission as I had to gear it ridiculously tall to run a 1/4 mile.1st gear was then a dog and it was out of revs by 3/4 track anyways, but in between it was a rocket

My first header was a Dick's Cycle West/Racer 1 I bought from a dealer. It worked great but had really crappy ground clearance. It put me on my ass one time when I levered the rear wheel off the ground. I have been running the Jardine since mid '90's I built two different electronic ignitions for it. The first an after market Ford kit I retro fitted. Turns out it had a built in rev limiter that would shut it down at 6500! So I had to take it off. I also built an amplifier points booster from a kit that I used until I bought the Newtronics. I think that gets you pretty much up to date-sorta?!

Several years ago I had a really nice CR500 that came with some super trick alloy handle bars. I made up my mind then, that I would build an "all around bike" based on those bars. Then last autumn I picked up a 1989 YZ250 roller for $50, and so it began.

I used the YZ complete front end and internally lowered it 3 1/2" and rebuilt the forks at the same time. I mounted a new Acerbis replica fender and cut out the super critical fender vent for the cylinder head. I had the Acerbis headlight and reused that, tucking all the wiring into a PVC electrical box just behind and slightly below the headlight.

I then moved to the back end and removed a bunch of the mono shock junk from the swing arm and bolted that on after adding shock mounts. I treated myself to some new 13" Progressive Suspension shocks and springs. I reused a stock XS500 chain guard clearanced for the shock. Tires are Shinko DOT trials tires with fresh IRC tubes and rim strips. I replaced my old Acerbis LED tail light with a newer, brighter one that also has the white tag light. I added a Wolfman fender bag to the rear fender.

Next up was to detail the instrument cluster to clear the bars and headlight, and mount the reused Tiny Tach. The tach has seen 25,000 miles on my MZ and a couple more years on my brothers MZ. The controls got new dogleg levers and new rubber dust covers. I have lusted after YZ450F mufflers since 2006,so I had been watching for a good one. Wichita Craigslist came though for $40 and I welded that to a collector I had lying around. Tone and sound level is exceptional. Now it is time for an updated title and Antique Kansas tag.

That is quite a love affair with a single bike. While Jim has transformed the bike several times, he has stayed with the same bike he bought all those years ago. I never in my wildest dreams ever pictured an XS500 in off road trim, but then some people have a bit more imagination than others. Most keep stock, build a tracker, bobber or chopper like every one else. I say, great job thinking out of the box Jim.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Storm Thorgerson

Most known for his Pink Floyd album art, Storm Thorgerson also did album artwork for a long list of other bands. Not the least of which was  Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, The Cranberries and Styx. He passed yesterday at the age of 69. I was a big fan of his work.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

1974 TX500 Cafe'

Our TX/XS500 friend Dean has built a very clean and well executed cafe' bike out of  two hundred dollar craigslist find. He buys and restores bike a on a regular basis as winter projects. I'll let Dean take over and describe the build and the impetus behind it.

My hobby is picking up old, titled bikes in the winter and basically doing just enough to make them look and run good. Some I ride for a year or two, however most eventually get passed on to a new owner. ( my wife calls them orphans , meaning I am not supposed to keep them..... and is always asking me about getting some of them adopted )
My '74 TX500 was a November 2010 craigslist find from Kenosha, WI about a half hour from me. The seller had it listed as a "Yamaha 600" ...( It is bit embarrassing to say... I had to look at Google images to find out what the heck it was ! ) So I went and drug it home for $200. It had good compression , a title, and less that 7k miles so I had found a good deal.
The build is of course a theme,,, if Yamaha made a replica of a late 60's Italian bike...... this is it. I am happy with the result. It is Corsa red ( Lania racing red ) with Le Mans stripes painted in white and black, then cleared. The head pipes were modified to keep the mufflers low , the upswept angle of the stock pipes was not vintage Italian. The fuel tank is the garden variety vintage Benelli .

I made the custom seat cowl, seat pan, under seat electronic compartment ( to hide everything ) and the tach bucket and mount all from fiberglass. Much of the wiring harness was modified ( and repaired ) .. most of the wiring is custom or relocated. The ignition key is on the underside of the seat. I used the stock tach, by making a custom face plate ( photo shopped and printed, used white Lexan and a base ) relocated the oil light to where the TX rear brake wear sensor was within the tach face. The big tach is now front and center with no other gauges or caution lights, everything needed is in the tach (I have a bar mount for my little GPS as a speedo.) That is the stock 7" headlight, lowered and mini bulb turn signals ( no led's on the bike ).
I made the headlight tilt bracket , rear turn signal brackets, exhaust hangers, battery bracket, etc all from 1/2" aluminum flat stock. I removed the un-needed brackets and tabs. The rear-set mounts and fuel tank brackets are all I had to weld on. The engine is stock, I just bead blasted the cases and polished every cover. All new seals, gaskets and proper adjustment checks were done. I run the stock Keihin carbs , tuned for the uni-filters.
I restored most all of the nuts, bolts and hardware ( zinc plated ). The 35mm forks and front brake are off my XS500 parts bike. The TX had only 34mm forks with a 10" disc, now we have 35mm with the 12" disc. I polished the fork lowers, before rebuilding. It has tapered roller bearings in the steering neck . That is a stock XS front fender (and my license plate is the rear fender)
The wheels are stock, I just "restored" them, new seals, bearings, some polishing and wrapped in Avon road riders ( love them). Bronze swing are bushings, rebuilt front caliper , new pads in front and shoes in back. The front master cyl is from Mike's, almost as cheap as a rebuild kit so I also bought the clutch lever................Did I mention all of the metal polishing?
I think Dean pulled off the bike he had in his head. He shows us what is possible with a idea and a plan and some motivation. He has put together a real head turner and a bike to be proud of. Way to go Dean.
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