Dakar suc­cess: 1979 & 1980 (Cyril Neveu)

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Comment -

“The Yamaha XT500 won the very first Dakar Rally. And it didn’t just win the two-wheeled class, it crossed the fin­ish line first, beat­ing ev­ery other ve­hi­cle out­right! When you look at the first rally in 1979 it is amaz­ing just how stan­dard the bikes were: they had big­ger fuel tanks and that was about it, which is why there isn’t an XT Dakar replica – the road bike was the race bike. It was this close link be­tween the road and race ma­chines that got me into col­lect­ing Dakar reps, in the car world race reps are re­ally far re­moved from the road cars and highly prized and there­fore ex­pen­sive. You can buy a Dakar rep bike for £1500 and that’s great value for money.

“The XT dom­i­nated the first few Dakars be­cause it is as tough as old boots. The early races were real feats of en­durance, both for the rider and ma­chine. The Yamaha air-cooled sin­gle is so sim­ple and rugged and the chas­sis is also very solid, they just didn’t break and that se­cured them vic­tory. The rider had no nav­i­ga­tion aids such as GPS in those days, you just had a map and com­pass, so a light and solid plod­der such as the XT was the per­fect Dakar ve­hi­cle.

“I like to look for orig­i­nal­ity and the fact this XT500 has an OE ex­haust makes it very spe­cial, the only is­sue is the front hub should be black and not sil­ver. XTS are start­ing to be­come hard to find as they were work­horses and no one trea­sured them, so you are look­ing at £4000 for a nice one nowa­days. They are a great bikes, but an ab­so­lute bitch to kick­start when hot!”

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