Project Yamaha TX500

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - WORKSHOP CMM -

Mark Hay­cock’s as daft as Ber­tie with his taste for projects that are on their last legs or for pick­ing things af­ter a beer or two. But maybe this one’s a win­ner?

Like many of us I have a few bike projects (and some non-bike ones too) on the go, in­clud­ing that manky Yamaha XS650 we saw re­cently, so the last thing I needed is an­other one. So why I found my­self scan­ning ebay for old Ja­panese bike projects af­ter a cou­ple of glasses of beer is any­one’s busi­ness. But we all do it, right? Un­for­tu­nately, some­thing caught my eye, yet an­other Sev­en­ties Yamaha. It was a 1973 TX500, which you might not have heard of be­cause it was never im­ported into the UK. Al­ter­na­tively, you might have heard about it as it gained a rep­u­ta­tion as be­ing a bit of a dog. But was that based on facts or just hearsay? What at­tracted me was that in the early Eight­ies I had a later vari­ant, an XS500B, which I thought was pretty good cer­tainly com­pared with a few bikes I have owned over the years. And this TX cer­tainly looked very pretty in the pho­tos, so the next day I went to take a look. In the ‘cold light of day’… it looked just as good in real life. Well, nearly, any­way. So of course a fool and his money are soon parted and the day af­ter saw me load­ing it on to the trailer. But am I a fool? That is what I want to find out. It is in re­mark­ably good con­di­tion for a bike which is 42 years old, but then it has done less than 6000 miles in that time – or at least it says it has. Well, let us take a closer look. The ex­haust is iden­ti­cal to the orig­i­nal and is more-or-less as new apart from a slight mark un­der­neath. The footrests and gear pedal are un­worn but of course they could have been re­placed. The seat is as new, as is most of the chrome plate. The fork legs are un­worn, though the seals are leak­ing (Photo 1). It all seems to add up, but the most sig­nif­i­cant point is the front tyre. It is a very old-fash­ioned ribbed Dun­lop Gold Seal, made in Ja­pan, and this would cer­tainly have been fit­ted as orig­i­nal equip­ment. It does seem to be very old, judg­ing by the ex­ten­sive crack­ing on the side­walls (Photo 2). The rear tyre has lit­tle wear and is in much bet­ter con­di­tion but does still show some crack­ing. It is ev­i­dently not orig­i­nal and

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