Yamaha XS 500 - 1976


img-0279.jpgAt the beginning, I was meant to buy a XS 500 and an XT 500 but I ended up with with only the XS.   I was looking for the bike of my dream, ie the  XT, and I turned out to own one of the ugliest bike ever built.  


 I brought the bike home, tried to start it, failed, and parked it in my garden and left it there.  I thought I would use it later on to dismantle it, see what the inside of an engine looked like, and then try to rebuilt it.  It was gonna be a long term, undefined project.

Then one morning as I was drinking my coffe in my favorite bar looking at the sea, I saw a guy parked his triumph cafe racer. 

I surf the net, bought specialised press then the idea came to build a cafe racer out of the XS 500.  The aim was too spend as little money as possible.  In this project, I hv only purchased thru the net a handle bar, a seat, and rear foot control for a total of approx 150 euros.  


First step, dismantle the bike and its 2 tons of useless steel.  I dont know abt you but I hv the impression that Yam's engineers hv a screw up mind.  Like, why make things simple when we can make them complicated.  Anyhow, once I completed the dismantling, I tried a few things.  First obstacle, the seat.  The one I had purchased was too small for this bike, and secondly how was I gonna mount it on the frame.  2 sleepless night is what I got until I found a solution.

 I concluded I had to widen the seat I had purchased on the net and modified the bottom of the stock seat in order to mount them together and fix it on the frame.  In addition, doing it this way, allowed me to lift the seat and have access the battery and fuse.  To widen the seat, after I had cut it in 2, I use a somewhat rigid cardboard which I taped under both side of the seat to maintain the same width and thickness throughout the seat and I applied 1/8 inch of resin to solidified the thing.  I filled in the emptyness between the bottow of the stock seat and the new seat with solid foam and screw both parts.


Then it was time to build the seat itself.  I took a steel sheet of 5mm and cut it in line with the seat I had just made.  I cut the  foam for the original seat and glued it together.  With a cutter and smooth everything out and took the cover of the original seat to cover it up.    I would love to tell you that it worked like a breeze but I fucked it up big time and end it up bringing the whole thing to my favorite saddle cover shop who took me 120 euro.  Hadn't plan this Damm itttt....

At first, I did not want to do anything with the tank but after seeing many pics on the net, I decided to widen and stretch it.  I covered the tank with solid foam and shaped it accordingly with a cutter.  I smooth the surface with 400 grit paper.  I know it's useless but I liked the smooth touch.

Then I did apply the same method as I had done before.  Then I cover the tank with body filler and used many hours sanding the bloody thing to make it nice and smooth.  When the seat and the tank were fully sanded, I put them back on the bike to get an idea of the final thing.  I also built with some 5mm steel sheet side cover to give the bike a more racing look. 

 I would hv never thought it would take this long.  I must have done the process of filler/sanding at least 3 times to get a satisfactory result.  My garage was totally covered with dust.  I spent hours with the air gun just to clean the bloody place.  But once it was satisfactory, the tank was ready for the primer.  And of course after the primer, it's back to sanding with 800 paper.  The hardest part of this process and to get rid of the orange skin as its called.


 Then I passed on the first 2 layers of white color and with some special paint tape.  In my case, I wanted 2 stripes throughout the bike and some white area on each side.  But all together I wanted bi-color.

Cover and painting in black 


While the tank, the seat, and the side cover were drying, I looked at the frame and engin.  First, I cut the back of the frame as I had no use for it anymore.  Then I got rid of the central stand, the air filter, the handle bar, the side cover, the fenders and numerous useless things. 

Then I had to take care of the back foot control and exhaust.  I gotta tell you this was a nightmare.  Not so much the exhaust which I shorten by approx one foot, but with the foot control.  First I had to drill thru the frame to fix the control, then I had to find a way to mount the link.  But once done, I could not brake nor shift as the control pedal hit the muffler.  As of now, I am waiting for a solidified linkage so I am driving without back break.  what the hell......  So I got so pissed and decided to sand the engine to give him a second life. Then it was time to put everything back together

I service the bike, change the plugs, clean and tune the carb, change the disc brake.  I spray some "start pilot" onto the new air filter I installed, and after approx 20 kick ( the electric starter is out of order) she started.  I drove ard the bloc and since she starts on first kick.  I had a lot of plans for the bike but I needed some cash so I sold it before finishing it.

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