Some more progress on the XR500 Super Motard

It has been a couple of months since my last post – I’ve been busy with other fun distractions which have kept me away from toying with the Basket Case project.  Still, I have been able to put a few hours in here and there and there is some progress. 

I knew that I would hit a few challenges assembling the bike and sure enough I met one problem after another.  Plenty of “Oh sh_t!” moments.  A diarrhea of them really, but I kept swinging with my plungers, not willing to go down without a fight.  Just to mention a few of these glorified episodes:

  • As I mounted the rear brake assembly on the bike, I noticed that the brake pedal would only weakly come back to its resting position.  Something was missing.  To get a better understanding, I picked up my XR500 Clymer manual to check exploded views of the area and, sure enough, discovered that the pedal is indeed assisted by a return spring.  I then checked the Basket Case parts and luckily found the spring.  The problem I soon discovered  though was that one end of this spring has to wrap around the lower part of the bike’s frame and there is no way one can mount it properly without taking the engine out!  Ouch!  So I proceeded with all my patience and determination, removed the engine, placed the spring and bolted the engine back on.  Darn spring, not ready to do this again soon.

    Brake pedal spring wrapped around the frame.  The engine has to be removed to mount this spring (!).

  • Shortly after the brake spring episode, I was working on the cylinder head valve lifter when I started questioning how this lifter shaft could be held into place.  Another trip in the Clymer manual gave me another horror view.  There is a pin that holds the lifter shaft in place and this pin is inserted in the valve cover before it is bolted onto the cylinder head.  I never saw this pin and never inserted it.  Problem is that the valve cover cannot be removed without, you guessed it, removing the engine from the frame.  “You must be kidding me!!” is all I could hear myself screaming.  On to round 2, unbolting the engine again, disassembling the valve cover, placing the pin and reverting the process to have everything back in place.  “No way I’m going to ever remove this &*^%$#!! engine again!” is what one could hear afterwards.  It’s hard to admit mistakes.

    Valve lifter lever with two actuating cables: one for auto-decompressing when kick-starting, the other for manual decompression via a lever mounted on the steering bar.

  • I noticed that when holding the rear suspension swingarm and moving it up and down to exercise its movement I could feel some play, enough to pay attention and investigate.  What I discovered is that several of the pivot link bushings were slightly worn, and the mounting points of the shock were as well.  Not much, but the compounding effect of all of them displaying a bit of play resulted in some rather unacceptable overall play.  So I took the entire rear suspension apart and replaced all the bushings.  Now things are tight.

There were a few other “discoveries” but fortunately these were only small setbacks not worth mentioning here.  I was finally back at actually putting the bike together, and took a few pictures along the way:

New steering stem runners are pressed into place.

First part of the front fork is assembled.

Showa triple clams are mounted.

The Showa fork is assembled on the Super Motard XR500.

Progress on the assembly front: foot pegs, steering bar, throttle body and cables, front brake lever, grips, clutch lever and cable, decompression lever and cable, crankcase breathing tubes, ignition coil and control unit, rear mud flap, tank straps, chain guides.

View from the other side showing the exhaust manifold and Supertrapp muffler.

Things are coming together – the main remaining parts to assemble are the wheels (special project as I have the hubs laced with special Super Motard rims), front brake, seat (needs re-upholstering), gas tank and front & rear fenders.  But before that, I need to wire the entire electric and ignition system.  That will be fun!

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18 Responses to Some more progress on the XR500 Super Motard

  1. Roland Linder says:

    Well, at least you know th ehoiw to remove the engine now! We did many times on the Porsche Race car if you recall.. Sorry, you weren’t there for that haha!
    Good progress and a that speed, you might be able to test the bike by Summer.
    Remember to wear a lid just in case something goes wrong. This time, I’m not around to be the guinea pig…
    Keep up the good work, so glad that you got back on it.
    Joueuses Paques
    Ton pot Roland

  2. James says:

    I’m in the process of rebuilding/cleaning my mono-shock on my 81 XR 500 and noticed your rear mud flap. Would you mind telling me where I could find one? Thank you Your bike looks great!

  3. James says:

    Thanks Mike!

  4. jeremy says:

    i have an 83 xr500 would those 90 cr500 tripple trees an forks bolt right up i been looking into a super moto setup but ur the only one on here with everything set in stone let me know thanks jeremy

    • Mike says:

      Yes, the ’90 CR500 triple clam and fork will fit your ’83 XR500. Interestingly, many other triple clamps will fit as well – there is quite a bit of similarities between models within a same brand (Honda in this case).

  5. jeremy says:

    hey mike the cr500 bottom bearing is to big an what is a stem runner? or do i have to use the xr500 stem with the cr500 trees lol im puzzled

  6. jeremy says:

    never mind figured it out i had to replace the race on the bottom so i ordered a bearing kit lol took me a min to figure it out

  7. bob says:

    mike: what bearing kit did u order to fit the bottom bearing i know the 90 cr500 kit the bottom bearing is to big an will only fit with race poped out suggestions would be great thanks

  8. bob says:

    and you used the stock xr500 stem with this kit I’m guessing with this kit the stem is to small for the cr500 trees tho doesn’t make sense unless u used the cr500 stem an ordered this kit for the cr500 bearing an stem thats the only thing I’m mixed up on right now

    • Mike says:

      The triple clam is from the CR500 — the stem has the same diameter and length as the original XR500, thus the use of the XR500 bearing and runner kit. Does this help?

  9. Mikey says:

    Hey Mike,

    First off im a real big fan of your work, i have 1980 honda xl500s that i am trying to make super motard as well with DR200 forks, disc brakes, warp 9 rims and avon tires. Anyways i felt i should comment on this post just because i saw the spring problem you had, i had it as well when i was replacing my clutch and had to remove the whole right side, but figured out there is a short cut, you just have to unbolt the brake pedal and foot mount and you have enough wiggle room to get it in there. its too late to do you any good now of coarse, but in case you ever have to deal with it again. Can’t wait to see more progression on your bike though, it extremely inspirational for me and my build.


  10. john says:

    I also rebuild vintage bikes. Can you tell me the year of the fork clamps and forks on your bike. Also, were did you get that mid pipe and muffler. My next project is a 81-82 xr500. Your project is nicely done.

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