The Motorcycle Broker wins again

The Motorcycle Broker wins again at the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club Hampshire open day last year. This time it was for a 1976 Yamaha XT500 we restored for a customer and it won best four stroke of the show. Sourcing an original Yamaha XT500 from the first year of production to restore was seriously challenging, but one was located. Once we got it back we fully assessed it for the client and he was happy for us to do our magic. It is possible to find cheaper machines as donors, but it is a false economy. Once you have paid tor the cost of the correct parts, if you can find them all, it’s cheaper to just buy a very original machine which has not been mucked about with. Our customer got lucky and bought one, but one side of the tank had been really bad repainted. This left us with the other side to match the colour, finish and decal location. 

Bike stripped in bits9

No value

All of these motorcycles went through a long period of having little to almost no value, prior to becoming a classic. During this period owners were not happy to spend what it cost to keep them on the road, so corners were cut and unsavoury “workshops” became very busy. In the 1980s, Yamaha XT500s like this one were so cheap that many London couriers used them as disposable work horses. To keep them on the road, couriers weren’t interested in keeping the bike original, they used anything to hand, not NOS Yamaha parts. Corrosion will have always got the better of finishes over a fifty year period, the entire rear brake linkage, parts on the airbox and every nut and bolt needed re-plating. The few chrome parts all needed stripping and re-chroming. We only had to replace the cam chain tensioner, cam chain, all gaskets, crank case bolts, head bolts, cylinder bolts, seals, an exhaust valve and all bearings yet the parts came to over £1,200 before we lifted a spanner. Plates were made up to protect the gasket surfaces when we blasted the motor components. New oil lines were made, along with all new cables.  As you can imagine, the costs of this restoration started to rapidly outgrow the value of the restored machine, once completed. Fortunately, the owner just wanted the bike completed correctly and wasn’t worried about the budget. 

Yamaha XT500 restored clocks
Attention to detail takes time.

Classic motorcycle restoration

Classic motorcycle restoration requires enormous resources, patience and skills developed over many, many years. People do achieve a lot in sheds and their garages, but they don’t do this work every day, they don’t have the tools a professional outfit has, they don’t have the patience and they don’t have the experience. Everything you touch is nearly fifty years old, so threads strip, incorrect parts were used and poorly executed work is always lurking. We have been working with these machines since the mid 1980s and we have not come across a single machine that has not suffered with all of these problems. When we took the machine to pieces, we were very lucky because almost everything was in good condition and original. Although in good condition, all of the paint had completely failed and we knew everything needed repainting or re-finishing. First we test rode it, is s compression test, to find compression low and everything felt old and baggy.  These are not as straight forward to repaint as many would guess, the XT500 carried engine oil in the frame. We had to remove the headstock bearing, press the swing arm bushes out, flush the oil tank with fuel to ensure it was completely free of oil, plug everything up to prevent any media getting into the oil tank and very carefully blast it. We carefully painted the frame and then checked inside the il tank with an endoscope to ensure no media had crept in and we were in luck. This was just sorting the frame out, prior to fitting new bearings and bushes. 

The motorcycle broker wins again
Every detail is attended to.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is where the time really gets absorbed, over and above the entire classic motorcycle restoration. The clocks need stripping, the clock cases blasting, painting, re-facing and rebuilding. Switchgear needs thoroughly photographing to ensure you have a good reference to rebuild them, then stripping, the cases blasting, painting and rebuilding. The wheels need stripping, the hubs blasting and painting, the wheels rebuilding. The rear shocks need stripping, old paint cleaning off, repainting and rebuilding. The forks need stripping, cleaning, the legs need polishing, dressing, re-finishing and Cerakote. All the ancillaries need blasting and repainting. The front mudguard was quite rough, so we had to spend a few day carefully rubbing it down and polishing it, as they shouldn’t be painted, they’re white plastic. To achieve the attention to detail so the machine doesn’t look restored takes a seriously long time. It will take a long time for Yamaha XT500 prices to increase to the value of the spend on this particular machine, but the time will come when it  does so. We are very proud of our restoration work, as we aim to make the machine look like it did when it was new. The finish of the paint has to not be too shiny and  not be mirror smooth, the factory finish had a kind of orange peel fish which needs to be replicated. Decals for the side panels are completely wrong if they’re genuine side panels and not replica ones, so they had to be remade from scratch for this job.  The original exhaust needed some welding and dressing before it was given a coat of Cerakote.  Our classic motorcycle restoration isn’t about a shiny facsimile of the original classic motorcycle they’re about authentic classic motorcycle restoration. The restoration has to not only look like the real thing when it was new, but it has to feel like it did when it was new. 

1976 Yamaha XT500 cornering

The Motorcycle Broker wins again

The Motorcycle Broker wins again for the happy customer with this authentic classic motorcycle restoration. You can see the machine on our YouTube channel here to have a really up close look over the work. The judges at the VJMC show in Hampshire felt it was the best four stroke motorcycle at their show, so this certainly adds value for the customer. We are regularly winning Concours events and classic motorcycle shows with our restorations because they retain the original spirit of the motorcycle. If you are interested in show winning classic motorcycle restoration contact The Motorcycle Broker in the normal ways.  

Paul Jayson

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