Yamaha XT500 by MotoRelic, a classic icon modernized

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Yamaha XT500 from MotoRelic (4)

Throughout its production, the Yamaha XT500 maintains a legendary reputation in the motorcycle segment, even winning the first Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979. This is a bike respected by countless enthusiasts around the world, and will always be remembered as one of all-time greats in your category. Of course, the XT500 is also popular in the custom motorcycle world.

Most of the time, when customizing a motorcycle, all efforts are directed to the cosmetic side, which creates a unique and irreversible image, but there is no significant improvement in the mechanical components of the motorcycle. The owner of this impressive creation you see here, however, went a little further by deciding to completely restore the machine, giving it a slightly more personal and different touch. Of course, since I’ve been in love with this model since I was a kid, it makes sense. restomod if the original Yamaha spirit is respected.

With this in mind restomod, the owner contacted the talented Sean Skinner of MotoRelic. Sean, after several meetings with his client and knowing that the goal was to respect the factory look of the 1977 XT500 and improve the mechanics as much as possible, got to work.

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And so the fun begins; To begin with, the original swingarm was replaced by a larger one donated by a Suzuki PE250 that would allow the placement of a rear wheel with more rubber. This modification is not an easy​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​, use of spacers and some thoughtful adjustments to the Yamaha chassis. The original shock absorbers have been replaced by more modern Ikon ones with distinctive red springs.

The front fork was transferred from a YZ250-S and lowered by about six centimeters to improve the riding position of the motorcycle. For the tires, Sean’s job was to renew the brakes and add new tires.

The guys at MotoRelic took a lot of care with this creature’s engine, adding a new cylinder head, carburetor and K&N air filter. All hoses and seals are cleaned. The most important modernization, however, has to do with the exhaust, which is completely handcrafted. According to the MotoRelic brains, creating this feature turned out to be one of the most challenging aspects of this project.

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Once the technical work was done, we moved on to the cosmetic side of the XT500. An elegant bezel for the headlight is made of aluminum. The headlight has been replaced with an LED from Hella. Just below, we find a very tall front fender, built from scratch and custom fitted.

At the rear we also find a custom-made fender that matches the design of the front one. Sean modified the subframe by adding the appropriate mounting points for the new fender and included an LED taillight. The seat looks like new, but in fact the original is used, the inner padding has been changed and it is upholstered in black leather.

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The side panels chosen are aluminum and supplied by Heiko Kuntze of Kuntziger CNC. The handlebars, with new Oury grips as well as compact switches and a machined brake fluid reservoir are also courtesy of CNC

Last but not least, the frame, swingarm and engine covers have been resin powder coated by NV Coatings specialists. The paint job was done by Knights Kustoms, who used a silver base and graphics inspired by the original XT500 livery in red and black, making the whole thing look coordinated.

Looking at everything this motorcycle has done, the XT500 is ready for many years on and off the road. The work done on this legendary machine is exactly what Yamaha deserves. Sean proves once again that he is a master of his craft and one of the best on the other side of the Atlantic.