Craigslist | 1978 Yamaha XT500 – Full Custom Tracker with ‘Handbuilt’ Pedigree

Up for sale on NorCal Craigslist is a one-of-a-kind custom Yamaha XT 500 that was re-done and prepped for the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin, TX. 

Seller states that the build began with a stock ’78 XT 500 thumper, and quickly spiraled from there. 

Starting at the front, the stock long-travel fork was replaced with one from a ‘period-correct XS650. That, along with a smaller (new) front wheel means an adjusted angle of attack that the seller states makes the bike ride better at road-speeds, and also gives it the street-tracker look he was going for. Several front-end bits were powder coated gold, which can be seen int he photos. 

The new 19in wheel features an all new disk brake, and that’s a theme you’ll see throughout the bike – lots of new, pretty much everywhere.

The bike received all new electricals (the original system was 6v and the new is a more modern 12v. That means replacement of most other component through which pixies flow. The battery has been eliminated, though we aren’t sure what system is being used for control.

Out back there’s a diamond-stitched leather seat with some matching brown leather details elsewhere on the bike. It appears that the original seat-loop / grab rail has been extended as well, for aesthetic purposes we assume.

Not much word on the motor, so we would ask if interested, but given the work that went in we assume it’s been gone through. When new, these 500cc single-cylinder 4 stroke power plants put out int he neighborhood of 30hp, but gearing makes them extra punchy in the low-end and a TON of fun between 0 and 45mph. Top speed is probably nearer to 90mph, and the seller claims this one is comfortable at 70…which was at the high end of comfy for our old SR500 which had the same engine.

Exhaust has been shortened and wrapped, and there’s a black powder coated silencer at the back that looks like a Cone Engineering model we like.

We especially like the tank art, which is a sort of period-riff in black and gold reportedly done by Josh Travino, whose work we have seen and loved before. The Shinko tires look good and appear to have a ton of life left in them – which jives with the seller’s claim that the bike has only done 1200mi since the restomod.

Seller claims over $10k invested (which seems low to us), and is asking $6500, which we think is a great deal for something of this overall build quality.

If you are thinking about this as a bike to live with, we’ve dont it, and we’d say it IS for sure a go-anywhere torquey, fun-loving machine. The only downside we really had a hard time with when we were living with a similar bike was the VERY frequent stops for gas on rides of any distance.

If you’ve got a stable of bikes and are looking for something fun to add to the mix, we LOVE bikes like this, and usually getting once involved $10k+ and 3-10 months wait while it’s built up.

That said, with full customs you always want to have the bike looked at and ask about any foibles. Hand-built can mean not 100% there, and its always a good idea to have a bike inspected by a shop you trust. The good news for a thumper like this is there’s only one cylinder and carb to deal with… but 1973 was a long time ago in off road motorcycle years.

We say, grip it and rip it now before riding season ends.

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One Comment

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  • Adam 2 years ago

    This is a truly beautiful and unique build


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