RETRO RE­BOOT

Kar Lee’s amaz­ing take on an up­dated Yamaha XT500.

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND IM­AGES: KAR LEE @KARDESIGN

Scram­blers are see­ing some­thing of a resur­gence re­cently, with Du­cati’s re­mas­tered ver­sion of its 1960s sin­gle-cylin­der clas­sic (in L-twin for­mat) lead­ing the charge. The one we’d love to see a re­turn of though is the leg­endary XT500. Classed as an en­duro bike, it also sits neatly into the scram­bler niche, be­ing a sim­ple, stripped-down con­cept with a de­cent per­for­mance to get from A-to-b re­gard­less of ter­rain. The XT built up quite a cult fol­low­ing since its in­tro­duc­tion in 1976 be­fore the two-valve mo­tor was re­placed by a four-valve en­gine fea­tur­ing other modern touches like monoshock rear sus­pen­sion and water-cool­ing in the lat­est 660cc su­per­moto and trailie. It’s the Scram­bler ver­sion we’d sell off granny for though, let’s hope that Yamaha can take a lit­tle nudge with our vir­tual ver­sion.

The ob­vi­ous donor en­gine is the sin­gle-cylin­der four-valve 660, though to earn the 500 badge there’d have to be a down-sized 500cc ver­sion. While the orig­i­nal made just 32bhp, we’d ex­pect a modern equiv­a­lent fuel-in­jected water-cooled mo­tor to make in ex­cess of 40bhp. The 660 would eas­ily top the 50bhp mark, which is plenty for jump­ing over cows and pop­ping wheel­ies down bumpy B-roads. It loses the aes­thet­ics of the cool­ing fins from the orig­i­nal, but if Yamaha were to bring it back they’d have Euro 4 to deal with, which is no easy task even for a sin­gle-cylin­der thumper.

Sim­plic­ity is the key when it comes to the frame, which is based on the ex­ist­ing 660 steel di­a­mond type. Our XT wears a 17in rim at the back and an 18in wheel at the rear, mim­ick­ing Du­cati’s ef­fort. A big sin­gle disc up front keeps un­sprung weight down and the orig­i­nal twin shock set-up moves with the times to monoshock, though ru­mour has it a dual shock ver­sion might be on the cards. A bash plate pro­tects the sump and fork gaiters and a sim­ple round head­lamp com­pletes the look.

In true scram­bler style, ex­cess fat is trimmed clear off the bone, hence our bike has the sim­plest of fuel tanks and plas­tics. If it can do without it, it will. A sin­gle clock shows revs and speed: there’s no mul­ti­ple fuel maps, ABS or trac­tion con­trol set­tings to fid­dle with – just get on and go. Af­ter all, isn’t that what it should all be about?

What do you think? Is this what Yamaha should be build­ing for us right now? Let us know!

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