CW Garage: Steve Parson's XT500 - First Look

The Steve Parsons Project.

CW Garage: Steve Parson

This is a 1980 Yamaha XT500. It had been in storage for several years and showed up in the local classifieds for sale. I bought it in the fall of 2003. It was pretty grimy but it started and ran. What you see in the photo is what I ended up with after quite a bit of cleaning and tuning.

I've put nearly 19,000 miles on it. It's been reliable, with the only failure being the electronic ignition module (a new aftermarket one was obtained from New Zealand). I think it's almost the perfect motorcycle: quick, economical (60 mpg with a one-tooth-smaller rear sprocket) and light. Its only shortcoming is the vibration associated with the big Thumper. Actually, I don't feel the vibration is too bad, at least for short rides, but after 40-50 miles it begins to wear on you. A balancer shaft and/or rubber mounting would have helped, as would something as simple as firmer, more supportive foam in the seat.