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For Japanese Motorcycles 15 years plus








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Mark Banister's 1978 Yamaha XT500

After a few years in the shed (over 4!), and a few quid having been spent (!!!), the old friend was re-born this spring (2013)! 

History: I purchased this bike from my brother in 1986 who was basically the 1st owner from new (he purchased it from Huxhams bike shop in Blandford, Dorset with 712 miles on the clock – the previous owner couldn’t get on with the starting apparently!).   The bike was factory standard when purchased by him in 1978 and was still standard (but getting rough) when I bought it for £100 from him.   During the time I owned it; I had a silly Back Street Hero’s phase in the early 1990’s when I sort of semi-restored it, chopped it and turned it into a road bike.   Several years later however, it fell in to significant disrepair as it was stored outside (no garages or sheds in those days!) and rarely used after 1994, and not at all after 1996 when, having moved house, I put it in a shed and largely forgot that I had it. 

In winter 2008/spring 2009, I decided to undertake a full nut & bolt restoration on it to bring it back to its original factory condition and state.  However, whilst stripping it down, I noticed that the frame was significantly corroded in the main structural/stressed areas, and decided to locate a second hand replacement for it (Yamaha have not made these frames for years – the last UK XT 500 models coming off the production line for the UK, in 1983 I believe).  I located a completely standard and undamaged one on the internet from a UK XT500 enthusiast which I purchased for £100.  The restoration was done using either old genuine stock from all around the world, by refurbishing and/or restoring the original items.   Nearly all parts are genuine and original Yamaha XT500 parts (with some TT500 parts thrown in), and took over 4 years to complete.  I did everything myself – all stripping down and re-assembly, engine work, welding bits, seat, electrics, engine casing spraying,  sealing the fuel tank, sourcing bits and parts from all over the world (new old stock, and used but serviceable parts), including Japan, Germany, Sweden, Norway, USA, Canada, France and Italy.    

The few things that I didn’t do in the entire project were the grit/glass blasting and powder coating of the frame/swingarm and barrel/head, the skimming of the head, a re-bore and the painting and re-decaling (is that even a word?) of the tank.   Oh, and re-spokeing the wheels (I think that some skills are best left to the experts!). 

I took many photographs during the restoration (I was a professional car restorer for many years), and I have tried to show several key-stage pictures. 

On completion, it started 3rd kick! 

I love it - it has been part of the family for 35 years, and is such an icon of the 1970’s!   It’s funny – a lot of people say I should use it for what it was meant for, a field bike, but there’s no-way I’m taking it anywhere off-road after what  it took to restore, I’ll only put it in a ditch!  

What next though? sorta got hankerings for an old yellow DT250/400 twinshock or similar..! 




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