Maybe buying an XT and TT500

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Mowserito, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. Mowserito

    Mowserito Adventurer

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    Hurray, first post on an awesome website!

    So I've been visiting this forum as a guest for years (mostly the "Front page photo candidates" thread and ride reports) and I hate to admit it but I got the ADV bug (Always thought I was a sportbike guy until I took a ride on a vfr750f and wondered how anyone needs that much speed and weight). So for the last few months I've been looking into getting a cheap thumper to commute on and go weekend trail riding with some of my friends.

    My friends dad is selling not one but two yamaha 500's, I've loved these bikes ever since he got them. I remember trying to ride one when I was only 12, barely able to tiptoe on them and only riding it about 30 yards before getting scared of its power and promptly jumping off :D. And here's the kicker, he's letting them go for $500 for the pair plus a spare transmission (the TT lost its 2nd gear a few years back). Only catch is in the 10+ years he's had them he's moved about 3 times and lost the titles to them along with the title to his RV and a title to a sweet little vintage volvo. I know he didn't steal them, I know the XT runs but has sat for about 6 months (drained gas from tank and carb before hand, sits in a shed) the TT would probably just be for parts.

    My question to you guys is, do you think its worth the hassle of getting a new title for the XT (Also if any NM members could chime in that'd be awesome)? And I know these 500's are supposedly super reliable but how would they perform on daily commutes and weekend trail/dirt road ventures (only a 22mi round trip commute for work, 20-30 miles one way to the nearest decent trails). And I'm just curious how they perform off-road suspension wise (I'm not a suspension "snob" I've only ridden little 100's in dirt so anything is an upgrade really)

    Anyway sorry for talking so damn much, just wanted to tell you guys again how awesome this forum is! Keep up the good work :freaky
    #1
  2. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Ahhhhhh........hard to say with out looking at them. They were pretty reliable bikes when new,but that was quite a while ago. On the plus side lots of people still ride them and work on them. If it was in CA the title thing would be a nightmare,dunno about NM.
    I used to race a TT500 and it was a tank,front end slides on corners,hard boot necessary to start the thing. Learning to dirt ride on one wouldnt be the best way to go about it,something smaller lighter would be way better. But if you like projects and a challenge,what the heck! You could part one out and even things up financially.

    Their stock suspension is about as bad as it gets on that age of bike,by now it would be ready for rebuild to boot.
    Newer bikes only get better and better.
    #2
  3. mookybird

    mookybird Gramps

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    As mentioned above the title issues would depend on the state, if they aren't rusted or otherwise beat up it would be hard to go wrong for $500 it largely depends on whether you want to spend the time parting or repairing it.

    The tt with a bit of modifying is a pretty popular short track bike for us old guys these days and no title is needed, if you weren't so far away I'd be trying to help you make up your mind by offering to buy it, Here's a shot of the 79 model I own

    Good luck with your choice, have fun

    [​IMG]
    #3
  4. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

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    [​IMG]

    This is me with my '79 SR 500 that I bought for $275 in '88 , pictured sometime in the early '90's.The bike had about 8000 miles on it when I got it and I put an additional 25,000 miles on it so far.

    Here's a TT motor in an XT frame I bought on E-bay a few years ago. It's a progect , mocked up but, nowhere near ready to ride.
    [​IMG]
    It has ATK suspension F&R , plenty left to do.
    These Yamahas are solid platforms , but , by now getting little dated. If you want to build a relationship with the bikes , I'd say go for it. If you just want to ride some more up to date might be better.
    #4
  5. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

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    all the owner has to do is go to DMV with either the license number or VIN and he can get a copy of the titles.

    there are other ways depending on your state. bonded titles, "abandon vehicle"... check your laws.. :deal

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    What I do is call in to DMV,give em the VIN number and let them run it,they have a system where they call back later with the info. If theres fines or a problem it saves waiting in line.
    #6
  7. Mowserito

    Mowserito Adventurer

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    Thanks for all the replies guys!

    So I talked to the owner of the bikes again and apparently he never got titles for the bikes (the whole losing the titles bit I guess was my friends "imagination") so I then contacted an mvd express (they seem to usually be nicer and faster as well) and had them do a vin check over the phone (Thanks for the tip Foot Dragger!) and although she is legally unable to tell me who has the title she did say it has no liens, has not been reported stolen and has been at least registered once in NM.

    She did say that I could go through a state office to try and obtain the info, I'm on the fence about that though I might just have my friends dad fill out an application for duplicate title form and give me a copy of his drivers license so I can try and take my chances with one of the more lenient rural dmv offices (the ladies are actually nice over there, let me register my truck with a severely cracked windshield and a tail light out :lol3). I'm going to keep asking around until I find the easiest way of doing this, but if its seeming like more work than its worth I might just hold off on it, maybe sell my KZ550 project for some dualsport seed money.

    But if you guys know anybody with access to a state VIN# database, send a PM my way. It might be terribly illegal but at least it would save me a few steps and some dealings with state government :D but seriously I will look into contacting a state dmv office to try and sort this out

    Thanks again for your comments and advice!
    #7
  8. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    If I could get the deal you are getting, I would probably take it. But be aware of the negatives of that bike as a commuter. This was my experience with the two that I owned:

    • The drum front brake was pretty good for its day, but you won't be doing any stoppies.
    • Mechanical ignition points mean learning to use a timing light or paying for an ignition tuneup, a process that pretty much disappeared with the next generation (or maybe the last model of the 500).
    • The valves tend to loosen and clatter and require adjustment. It's very easy, but it's another job to learn and mess around with every 3000 miles or so.
    • The oil change process is convoluted. You have an oil filter under a side cover, plus a screen to clean where the engine oil line comes out of the frame downtube. The new oil goes in the filler between the gas tank and the steering head.
    • The bike prefers premium gas and will ping on cheap stuff.
    • The starting process is somewhat intricate. At first you'll have to operate the compression release with your left hand and the kick starter with you right foot while you stand on your head and try to spot a shiny spot on the camshaft through a tiny glass window. Eventually you'll learn to do it without looking, but it's not a bike you want to stall at a stop light. Kicking it through is easier if you are over six feet tall and weigh over 200 pounds.
    • The headlight is a pitiful 6 volt unit that performs like a flashlight with dying batteries. If you stall the bike while riding at night (lock the rear wheel in a panic stop, for example) the light dies with the engine.
    • The XT500 was the first big Japanese 4-stroke single, and the only one that never had a balance shaft. It shakes. You will need to keep an eye on the engine mount bolts, the exhaust header bolts, and other fasteners.
    If I ever got another XT, it would be for one reason only. I never found another bike I could wheelie as far plopped on the seat as the XT. It was magical for wheelies.
    #8
  9. Mowserito

    Mowserito Adventurer

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    Haha yeah that wheelie thing is common knowledge i think, don't think I'll have any complaints about that :dllama. The research I've done on the bikes pretty much matches what you stated above. How bad is the vibration though really? Like bad enough that a few extra layers of seat foam and some batter grips/weights couldn't cure? The stock 6v system would have to do for the time being, eventually I'll either buy a 12v conversion kit or make one myself if I'm feeling adventurous.

    So I wasn't able to get a hold of any state mvd offices, guess they took their vacations early or are just pretending like they are. So looks like I'll have to wait until after the holidays to talk to one of them but in the meantime I'm going to get the owner to sign some paperwork and try to get the ball rolling on it.

    And don't be afraid to keep posting XT/TT/SR photos, I could use the mental pictures while I'm doing wonderful things like filling out paperwork and waiting in line:evil

    EDIT: And as far as points ignition goes my first 2 bikes were a yamaha at1 and ct1 so I'm quite versed in the nature of ancient japanese ignitions
    #9
  10. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    It used to start bugging me after 500 miles or so in a day. Everybody is different about vibration. I can't stand the buzz of almost any inline four.
    #10
  11. MZRider

    MZRider Neo-Luddite

    Joined:
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    Western MD
    My present dual-sport ride is a '77 XT500. A friend found it sitting in a basement where it had been since '81 - only 660 miles covered from new. I needed to do all of the usual stuff to get it roadworthy again - tires, chain, battery, carb cleaning, points cleaning, sparkplug, etc.

    At first it was a bear to start when not quite cold and not quite warmed up. 1 kick cold or hot, just not when in between. I could kick "until the cows came home" and it would only "putt". Found that if I opened up the nut on the bottom of the float bowl and let some gas flow through, then it would start within a kick or two. After about 3k miles that issue disappeared - not sure why, I didn't change anything. Now it starts with 1 or 2 kicks no matter the engine temp.

    In the first 5k miles I must have set the point gap and timing about 6 times, but in the last 6k miles only 3 times. I guess the rubbing block of the points was still breaking in and/or there was a little roughness on the point cam that eventually wore off.

    I've adjusted the valves 3 times, changed the oil 6. IMO, changing the oil isn't as bad as the BMW F650GS or Aprilia Pegaso I maintain or even the MZ Saxon Country I had a while back. Much more time consuming and messy than the Guzzi though! :D Rear tires last about 3k miles no matter what I use, the Shinko 244 I put on the front at 660 miles lasted to 8k miles. The $50 no-name o-ring chain I bought off of eBay lasted 9k miles, so I put another on back in the Summer.

    I do wish I could run regular unleaded and that the tank was at least a gallon larger. Though at 60 mpg average, I go over 100 miles before reserve.

    Early on I learned how to feel when the start indicator was showing in the window. When it is, I feel a "nudge" in the compression release lever. I'm only 5'6", 150 lbs. geared up and have no problem kicking it through.

    I'd definitely want a brighter headlight if I were riding off-road after dark, but it's "adequate" for in-town and out on the highways around here.

    I've yet to have anything loosen from vibration, but then that could be because it's all held firmly in place by rust. :D I'd definitely like to try some bar-end weights to help quell vibration. The Pro-Grip 714 grips helped some, but my hands still go numb after a couple of hours.

    My riding buddies have KLR650s, one also has a KLX250S and an F650 Dakar. I do a lot of waiting for them to catch up off-road - not sure why - their bikes are more capable, I'm not a "hot shot" rider by any means. The XT just makes the state forest roads we ride so easy for me. The gobs of low-end power mean I'm not shifting nearly as much as those guys. Quite a bit lighter, lower and shorter means it's easier to manuever in tight situations.

    Rear suspension works pretty well given it's ancient design, but the forks can't absorb sharp, quick jolts. May play around with springs, oil level and viscosity a bit to see if that improves things.

    My original intent was to fix it up and sell it. But after spending some time riding it, I decided it was a keeper at least until I get the ATK going. Now at 12k miles, I think it'll be in my "fleet" along with the Guzzi and ATK for a long time.

    Second ride ever, Lone Pine Reservoir, Michaux St. Forest, PA

    [​IMG]

    Bark Rd. PA State Gamelands, near Breezewood, PA.
    [​IMG]

    Memorial Day 2011. Northcraft Rd. near Artemas, PA. This was my longest day thus far - 300 miles in nearly 100 degree heat.
    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. dman

    dman Been here awhile

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    My friend had both a TT and an XT in the early '80's and the TT was the first dirt bike I rode after about 8 years as a pretty brisk street rider. I recall feeling quite confident after just a short time on a slithery surface on that TT. Look at it this way .... 30 years ago, these bikes were pretty much state of the art, compared to European two strokes or aging British thumpers, and forced Honda to add an XL500 to their then small-displacement XL range. Sure, bikes have gotten better, but in those 30 years, trails are no more difficult and the human race hasn't evolved to become better riders that need more capable bikes. For that price, unless they're total junkers, it's a great entry to riding.

    That said, where I lived, you did need ride 100+ miles to get to dirt. I loved riding that TT so much, I went out and bought a 250 dual sport, soon replaced by a Honda XL600. After a few weeks of trying to keep up with my faster, disc braked Honda on local PAVED twisties, my friend upgraded to an XT550 and then XT600 (he was a tuning fork guy). And you may want to get something newer, faster smoother eventually, also. But with a 10 mile one-way commute and trails with 20 miles, these old classics may be just fine.

    -dman
    #12
  13. Mowserito

    Mowserito Adventurer

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    Man, seeing all these nice XT's is making me restless...I think I might just have to buy these regardless of title issues

    I'm thinking that the bikes are so cheap, and I can make so much from parting out the TT partially that I could maybe afford buying a titled frame off ebay or trying to find one out here.

    Either i really want these bikes or the holidays are getting to me...o the xmas money is burning hole in my pocket
    #13
  14. Mr Puffin

    Mr Puffin Been here awhile

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    Well what happened mowserito ? did you buy them :D
    #14
  15. Mowserito

    Mowserito Adventurer

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    Just got an email from a guy who has a pair of TT frames with titles for $220 a pop, going to contact him and see what kind of shape they're in and go from there. I AM SO PUMPED:clap

    I'm doing some research into the differences between the TT and XT frames, if I remember correct the only difference is that the xt has a different rear hoop (may be my faulty memory though) any of you kind folks have some inside knowledge on that?

    So if all goes well (cash lines up, frames are in good shape, get a nice warm place to wrench on them that's not my work, etc.) then I will have 2 500 enduros for $840, not bad if I do say so myself:evil

    P.S. - Anyone in the Albuquerque area want to buy a KZ550 project?
    #15
  16. Zecatfish

    Zecatfish XTique Rider

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    You should have seen Gus on his XT500 at Slap last year.
    It was real trooper.
    Just remember its a slow poorly suspended old bike, that will anywhere your man enough to ride it at a slower pace.
    I would like to have one to go with my XT550 Franken bike....
    But to be honest I find to many bikes means I favor ONE and neglect the rest.
    Thats who it is with my XT550, its just wonderful and goes anywhere I point it and always comes home again.
    #16
  17. Mowserito

    Mowserito Adventurer

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    Left a message for the guy selling the frames yesterday and he still hasn't called me back :cry I did ask about their condition so hopefully he's just getting them all nice and perty before I go and drop some cash on them.

    For the sake of my wallet I'm thinking of just buying one frame to get the XT all legal and junk and either part out the TT or chop up the frame and turn it into some sort of bobber thingy (and apply for a new "Special Construction" VIN/title for that bike)

    I'm going into work tomorrow with the shiny parts of my KZ build so I can take some glamour shots for the CL ad, I hate to sell the thing but I bought it in about 6 different boxes and its just been a pain to find all the small little parts to even get it in rolling chassis form (plus who uses 630 chains these days am I right?). Maybe if my work load is light and i actually get to take pics I'll post them here. I have a tiny, pathetic build thread over on the do-the-ton forums if anyone is interested:
    http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=42269.0
    It hasn't been updated in a while, since my last post I've installed a manual cam chain tensioner, seated the valves/did a crapload of head work and squeezed the engine in.

    Sorry for the thread derailment, I'm just holding off doing homework for the night is all. SOMEONE POST SOME MORE XT/TT PICS I'M ALMOST READY TO KEEP MY KZ!
    #17
  18. brucifer

    brucifer Long timer

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    My old '78.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    I can still vaguely remember kick starting my 76 TT500 when it had high sided off yet another corner and was real hot.
    Good times.......... Handled just like a flexy heavy DT1 with a big engine stuffed in. Cost me a healthy left knee due to it wanting to turn turtle off big jumps.
    #19
  20. Mowserito

    Mowserito Adventurer

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    Man that's pretty, hows the supertrapp sound on it?

    I still haven't heard back from the guy with the frames, I do get paid this saturday though so i'll see about maybe snatching up the xt and tt before the weeks out. Hopefully. But I do have to go to a salvage yard to pick up some parts for my truck on sunday (stupid priorities...) and I suppose if I do get a check i'd have to wait until tuesday to cash it... I don't know, I just want to throw a leg over one and go already!

    Thread derail #407:
    heres my kz project that may or may not be going on craigslist, took these this afternoon. No matter what I do with it it does need some loving:
    [​IMG]

    ***Not Pictured: hours of head work, a bunch of boxes of parts and a sad excuse for a bank account
    #20