Project Yamaha TX500
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