After years languishing in the shed, the XT is about to get a new lease of life
rebuild takes shape
1981 YAMAHA XT500
PRICE £850 WEIGHT 140kg SEAT 840mm POWER 32bhp TORQUE 29.2ftlb MPG 59
Forty one years experience, on and off road. Passionate bike-builder. HEIGHT 6ft 1in WEIGHT 98kg
With the bike stripped-down, the task in hand doesn’t feel as daunting. Everything came apart nicely thanks to a few lessons taught to me by my father many years ago when I first got the bike. My dad always swore by either copperslip or a good dollop of grease when putting bikes back together. All the spindles and engine mounting bolts came out with a firm push, no hammering required.
I’d already planned what was going to happen with the engine – a rebuild by Rod Spry Engineering, the vintage MX specialist (www.rodspry.co.uk) who had previously done a superb job of rebuilding my Yamaha SR500 engine. With the bike in bits, Rod stripped and vapour blasted the engine, then repainted, re-plated and replaced any worn parts along with all the fastenings for around £650. With the engine away with Rod, the rest of the job was down to me.
Everything needed a damn good clean and service. The brakes had grown a bit of rust on the drums and just wanted a bit of a rub with some wet and dry paper. It was the same with the brake linings, just to cut through the glaze on the surface. The tyres had perished where they had sat deflated for some years, so needed replacing. As I have plans for a bit of off-roading, I’ve opted for a pair of Continental TKC80S (£118) – not only do they look good, but they also perform well.
Over the years I’ve owned the XT it’s seen a fair bit of off-roading, and as a result the original shocks and fork springs are tired. I wanted shocks that can be re-built like the old Konis you used to be able to buy. Scanning the net I found Ikon Suspension UK (ikonshocks.co.uk). These shocks share an amazing resemblance to Konis, along with a very similar name. A replacement pair of Ikon fork springs should help take out a bit of sag from the front end, too.
Over the years I have had three different silencers on the XT, and as they were all different shapes I have had to cut bits out of the enduro rear mudguard, so it’s now looking rather unsightly and in need of renewing. I found Acerbis (acerbis.com) make a Baja rear guard for £39.95 with built-in rear light and mounting point for a numberplate. My old numberplate is too big to fit on so I have ordered a new made-to-measure plate from Flexi Plates UK (www.flexiplates.co.uk). Made from 1mm polycarbonate plastic they are much more durable than standard Perspex ones.
Most of the cables have seized due to lack of use so I have been on to Venhill (www.venhill.co.uk) who supplied a set of twin throttle, brake and clutch cables which added up to £67. Now it’s off to a cold garage and bit of Radio 2 to keep me company.