Af­ter years lan­guish­ing in the shed, the XT is about to get a new lease of life

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - si­mon.relph@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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.

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