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1404 Views 93 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Strotter13
Hey All,
Im new to the forum. I have been riding for 20 years. Just recently got into Cafe Racers. Have owned Yamaha R6 up until now. Just bought a 1976 Yamaha XS500. It’s pretty much stock with exception to the lights and the front windscreen. I want to clean it up a bit, change the rear shocks, change the seat to a single person cafe racer style seat, shorten up the exhaust and change the tires. Suggestions are welcome!
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Thats a super nice bike... no matter what you do, make sure its ALL reversible back to stock.

Do you have a Clymer manual for it?

Here's what myself and most regulars here will recommend

  • full service according to manual
  • New all balls wheel bearings
  • The nicest, highest performance tires you can afford
  • New tapered steering stem bearings
  • Progressive front springs
  • New fork bushings and heavier fork oil
  • Fork brace
  • Braided steel brake lines
  • New swingarm bearings
  • hagon or progressive brand rear shocks
  • dyna coils and Ignition
  • in-line fuel filter
  • ultrasonic cleaning and rebuild of carbs
  • New carb intake boots
  • New throttle and clutch cables
  • Turn signals (not obvious it has them)
  • Either Superbike bars, or reassess to go with the existing clubmans... I'd lose the clubmans because they can ding up the tank.

After that, see what period correct solo seat options there are, but I think it looks awesome as is
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Hey Thanks for all the info! Can you link to the front springs and rear shocks that you recommend? Also the bars too? I’m taking delivery of this bike tomorrow evening, and I can’t wait to run through it (manual is on the way) the carbs have been rebuilt among other items, but I haven’t checked everything yet :)
Well, for the Hagons, apparently Dave Quinn Motorcycles shut down in 2018.... he used to set them up for you based on motorcycle and rider weight.

The front springs can be found here:

They do rear shocks as well of you dont find any Hagon shocks.

For bars, any Superbike style bars will do. No need to spend a ton of money on them. They will make the bike immensely more comfortable to ride.

I'd recommend going through the motions of a service regardless of how up to date it is so as to really familiarize yourself with the bike.

I'm just really digging that paint job.

It would be super cool if you could find a hand bent exhaust for it, but it doesn't look like this model was sold domestically in Japan, so you're probably out of luck.

You could see if there is a vintage Giuliari solo seat for it though
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Eventually, I'd recommend getting a front spring and cartridge setup from Race Tech. Absolutely amazing.

Also, mikes xs is a good parts source:

Also, I checked Fast From the Past Vintage Motorcycle Parts for an XS500 Tarozzi fork brace, but it seems they only have them for the 78 and later model
That's a nice find, it's in great shape. You don't see to many of them
Ctac has got a pretty good shopping list together for you. You would end up with a great riding machine if you follow through with the changes.

Original cafe racers are about performance first and foremost, making a bike perform better. We see a lot of chopped up or soon to be chopped up bikes that are referred to as cafe racers. They make it "their own" and ruin the bike in the process.

It would make a nice flat track replica. Allows for performance upgrades and gives you a very comfortable riding position.
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Dude that track replica is sick!!! Thanks for all the help guys! I’ll keep this thread going over on the other discussion. Really grateful for all the suggestions.
Super small item but it looks like the previous owner installed a little inline fuel filter backwards, the dirt is suppose to collect where you can see it and it will take longer to plug because there is more volume on the outside of the filter cone.
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Dang! Good eye :)
I’ll check it out tonight when bike arrives :) thank you!
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Did you mentioned exhaust changes somewhere? I wouldn't mess with the original pipes and headers if they are in good shape, replacements are likely unattainable. Side note on oem header pipes: if your headers have nice shiny chrome on them without much discolouration after use, they are likely double walled header pipes.
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Copy that. Yeah I may just wrap the stock pipes. I gotta see how it looks in person. Should be here I. About an hour!
Header wrap will cause the pipes to rust out
Well I got her. She runs but electric start isn’t working. Kickstarts up but carbs will need to be adjusted for altitude. Looks good for being original but I think I’m gonna take her down to the frame, gonna take a few days to think about it :)
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Electric start is working. The ground to the controls was no good. Fuel tank has rust. Also need to adjust or re jet carbs for altitude. Probably a good time to just rebuild them. They were supposedly rebuilt from by seller but fuel tank was supposedly clean too….
Personally I'd get it running great before tearing it down to the frame. Check the air filter and adjust the valves because they have likely never even been looked at. Pretty sure that engine has screw adjusters for the valve clearance which makes valve adjustment cheap and easy plus you can achieve very accurate results if you get good with adjusting clearances. Carburetors don't work great if the valves aren't perfect, a compression test is a good place to start testing but won't always show an issue with valve clearance adjustments.
Flip those fuel filters around and flush them out, then if there is any rust and dirt in the fuel you will see it. You'll want to clean the filters above the fuel tap too if they are still intact. CV carbs are suppose to be less affected by altitude and you would need to travel to very high elevation to require significant jetting changes.
Drain the front forks into a clear glass container and based on what drains out you will see if the forks have been serviced in this lifetime :geek:
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You just saw a classic example of "serviced and ran when parked".

Like I said, methodically go through the entire bike and service everything.

With the fuel tank, clean out the rust but don't line it unless there's pinholes. I like to start off cleaning a fuel tank by using electrolysis before I move on to acids.

If the petcock isn't salvageable, I highly recommend a Pingel petcock. Pricey, but super worth it.

Also keep in mind that those plastic in line filters get brittle with time, so carry a few extras with you.
There are new pet cocks however one of the carbs is missing the air fuel mix screw lol. Going to do what you guys said above and will keep y’all posted!
Start buy pulling and getting the rust out of the gas tank. Then go through carbs and adjust valves, then get it everything running tits and then make a decision on what to do next. I’m outta town for work next week but when I get back I’ll get playing with it :)
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The quality of carb kits varies dramatically, so be careful of the vendor.

I haven't bought vintage bike parts from them but buy ATV and sled stuff. If they carry or can get parts, Babbitt's in Michigan are good to deal with.
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