Yamaha XT500

Owned for 33 years, Rel­phy’s 1981 Yamaha XT de­serves some at­ten­tion

Motorcycle News (UK) - - FRONT PAGE - SI­MON RELPH si­mon.relph@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

YAMAHA XT500 1981

Go back three decades and you’ll find me rid­ing my Honda XL250S along the south cir­cu­lar past Stream­line Mo­tor­cy­cles, which is when I no­ticed a bike in the win­dow. There it was, a mint two-year-old Yamaha XT500. I had to have it!

De­posit down, the XL was sold to a mate, a small loan from my grandad was se­cured and the XT was mine.

For the next few years the XT was my only means of trans­port, tak­ing me off-road at week­ends, on hol­i­days to the Lakes, trips with my girl­friend to Scot­land and even into Europe. Noth­ing could stop me! Or could it?

Work­ing in my col­lege sum­mer hol­i­days, I parked around the back of Ox­ford Street one morn­ing. When I re­turned to the bike bay, there was only a space left where my bike was parked. I was ab­so­lutely gut­ted.

I bought a Honda XL500R to fill the gap, but it wasn’t the same. All the time I had spent on that XT, gone, I was just left with fond mem­o­ries.

Some two years later I had a phone call from the po­lice, ‘Hello, is that Mr Relph? We have your bike down at Bex­ley­heath sta­tion.’

Over the moon, I im­me­di­ately went to the sta­tion. Out in the yard, look­ing very sad for it­self, tyres flat and side pan­els miss­ing, there it was, my bike.

By the look of it, it had spent more time sit­ting around than be­ing rid­den. A bit of time and ef­fort and it was back up and run­ning and straight back into ser­vice. I did an­other 20,000 miles on it over the next few years un­til the time came for a the pis­ton rings to be changed and the bar­rel honed.

With the en­gine over­haul done it was time for a test ride. All was go­ing well un­til there was a funny noise that just got worse and worse. I stopped the en­gine and thought about what it might be. That’s when I re­mem­ber pok­ing a piece of rag where the oil pipe lo­cated to stop it leak­ing onto the work­shop floor. Un­for­tu­nately I don’t re­mem­ber tak­ing it out. Bug­ger!

I pushed it into the garage, in­fu­ri­ated with my­self and that’s where it has stood un­til now. With fresh en­thu­si­asm I feel ready to bring it back to life!

Ready for some care and at­ten­tion, and a good clean

Look­ing ne­glected in the po­lice pound

In 1985 when the XT was at its best

Forty one years ex­pe­ri­ence, on and off road. Pas­sion­ate bike-builder. HEIGHT 6ft 1in WEIGHT 98kg

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