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TOPIC: Novice old guy, and his xt500

Novice old guy, and his xt500 27 Aug 2011 10:46 #151539

  • kyle1911
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Hey folks, my name is Kyle, and I can't shake the itch to go racing again. (Sounds like an AA meeting, how funny....) Looking for ideas for a low budget, good handling XT500 to get back into novice level shorttrack. I've read most of the posts I could find on here about XTs and have come up with my own idea of what I will be building, but any input is MUCH appreciated.
Here's what I have right now. 76' XT500 that runs. Bike is a rotten POS, but I got it and a mostly complete bottom end for a good price. Haven't done a compression test yet, but it fires right up, doesn't smoke, and runs through the gears fine. Here's my plan for now. Stock tank with a Gopher seat pan. Leave the engine alone. (assuming compression is ok, and it's not making metal) I am 40, and was never a fast guy in 1995, the last time I raced. More power right now isn't needed. It runs amazingly well with the stock carb. If I plan a 540 with a mild cam, and more compression down the road, should I slap a VM38 on it now? I will be building my own pipe after I read up on diameter and length a little more. De-rake frame to??? I am leaning towards 25 degrees, based on what I have read, but am open to input. Replace swingarm with Radian, if I can find one for a decent price. I have the skill to fabricate one from mild steel, but I am not an expert with chromoly. Mild steel ok? Move upper shock mounts to the rear. Makes sense, and I can do the fab work no problem, but how much to move them? Forks.. I am looking at FZ600 units, in the stock triple clamps. Front wheel... 19x1.85 yamaha mag for the front? I know they are a little heavy, but honestly, I doubt I'll notice for a long time. Rear wheel... Here's where I run into a roadblock. I used Omar's conversion for a front mag to build a 650 street tracker, but it is far from quick change. It worked nicely for the street, but other ideas would be great. 1.85" rim too narrow for the rear? Rear disk/mount/cylinder and pedal fab are no prob, but not sure of rim size vs. tire performance. Nothing like a ton of questions from the FNG, I know, but I appreciate any and all advice. I am $450 into this as we speak, and am trying to stay below $2500. Thanks in advance! Kyle
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 27 Aug 2011 11:05 #151541

  • JHenry
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Kyle,

E-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. I can help with at least one of your problems and possibly make some suggestions on the rest.

Jim Henry
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 28 Aug 2011 16:01 #151650

  • Motortony25
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Kyle, mr. henry is the real deal listen to someone thats been there done . Tony S.
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 29 Aug 2011 07:35 #151715

  • kyle1911
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Thanks, Tony. I've got my ears wide open, believe me! Regards, Kyle
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 29 Aug 2011 20:54 #151799

  • wjb
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Hey Kyle, I've got some parts that may help you out. I've got a set of fz600 forks and a 19x1.85 mag. They are in great shape. I live in Sacramento, Ca. if you are close and want to take a look at them. Let me know if you're interested. Jay
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 30 Aug 2011 07:19 #151829

  • kyle1911
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Thanks for the offer, Jay. I am in central Washington state, so it would be a bit of a commute! I appreciate the response, though. Regards, Kyle
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 30 Aug 2011 13:33 #151864

  • MickX16
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Jay you have P/M
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 30 Aug 2011 22:20 #151926

  • wjb
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Hey Mick, you have a pm, Thanks Jay
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 02 Sep 2011 01:49 #152139

  • CaptCatfish
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Hi Kyle,

I read your post with great interest since I am an old guy, a novice and am going down a similar path (with a similar budget).

My experience thus far has been mixed but mostly great fun (although a bit on the expensive side).

One "low-budget" suggestion I have is to replace your swing arm either with one from a Suzuki PE400 or an aftermarket one especially for the XT. What a difference in the way the bike handles! It was well worth the $300-500 or so that you will spend either on the aftermarket version or on the conversion to the Suzuki swing-arm/hub/rim,etc.

My current modifications include lowering the outside foot peg along with the brake linkage and shorter shocks. Oh did I mention I was also getting a top-end job on my engine, since it turns out my engine which was sold to me as "good" had a bent valve, burnt valve and worn rings?

Since hindsight is always 20/20, I'll offer this tidbit of it for your consideration. IMO, I think for $2,500 you can buy a much better bike than you can build. There are some seriously good machines out there for $2,500 that are race ready or nearly so. I'm fast approaching that amount and I'm not sure what I'll have when I'm done. The build has been fun and all that. However, if I had a "do-over", I would have taken my $2,500 and bought a machine built by someone who has been there, done that and has the T-shirt.

Just my opinion but thought I'd share.

Jim
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Re:Novice old guy, and his xt500 02 Sep 2011 06:03 #152157

  • kyle1911
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Jim, I agree on the $ issue. I once read that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action, while expecting the result to be different. Yup, I must be insane. I keep re-running the numbers, and if I ever add a built 540 engine to this bike, I'll be into it about 4k. I can buy a nice framer for that! There is no logic to it. I have never just gone out and bought something nice, and all set up. I suppose it makes me a fool, but it's almost like an addiction. Taking a rat trap of a motorcycle, and turning it into something nice, gives me as much satisfaction and pride as a trophy on the mantle. The likelihood of beating a bunch of 16 year old kids, or some wily old vets to the finish line is small, but at least I can take pride in having 1)Built it myself, 2)Spent too much building it, and 3)Eventually selling it for a handsome loss. I hate to break my cycle of "That guy can make anything, as long as it isn't money". Maybe if I just do it one more time the result will be different?? Regards, Kyle
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