New wheels for the XR500 Super Motard

Besides the Showa front fork, the Super Motard wheels are the other important “custom” mod of this project.  I went through a long list of measurements before ordering the rims as I was not certain what rim width would fit.  At the end I was pleasantly surprised to see that 17×3.50 would suit the front and 17×4.25 the rear– pretty much standard for Super Motard bikes.

The wheels have to be custom made starting with the standard ‘82 XR500 hub at the rear, and a ‘90 CR500 wheel hub I bought at eBay at the front.  After cleaning and painting these, they look like new.  For the rims, I went with a Warp 9 36-spokes black 17×3.50 for the front, and a Warp 9 36-spokes black 17×4.25 for the rear.

To assemble and lace the wheels, everyone I spoke to recommended Woody’s Wheel Works in Denver, Colorado.  And everyone was right, these guys are truly amazing and will create any wheel customization, with any lacing and offset if needed.  For this project, they mounted supersized stainless steel spokes, superlaced them and used stainless steel nipples.

For tires, I selected Michelin Pilot Power, 120/70ZR-17 for the front and 150/60ZR-17 for the rear – I have had good results with these grippy tires before, and hope that I’ll be as pleased with this setup.

The Super Motard wheels for the Xr500 project laced by Woody’s Wheel Works and mounted with Michelin Pilot Power tires.

There is a small modification that needs to be made to the rear swingarm to make room for the rear tire.  The bracket, which is used to hold one of the chain guards, needs to be removed.  This is a simple operation using a typical hand grinder:

Chain guard bracket which needs to be removed to make room for the rear tire.

Bracket is removed and some fresh paint is applied.

There is one more touch I want to give to these rims to provide a specific look: pimp them up by adding some rim stripes!  So I bought a set of red stripes from Tapeworks – these are very easy to apply.  Nice contrast:

Front Super Motard custom wheel mounted on the CR500 Showa fork.  The red stripes add a nice touch to the Warp 9 black rims.

Rear wheel is mounted as well and a new chain is cut to length, linked and adjusted.

The XR500 Super Motard has now new performance shoes which match the motor and frame colors.

Next step is to finish the custom electrical harness, mount a headlight, taillight, brake light, horn, adapt front and rear fenders and button everything up with a seat and gaz tank.

This entry was posted in Super Motard, Super Moto, XR500 Project. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to New wheels for the XR500 Super Motard

  1. Roland Linder says:

    Salut Caporal Chef de mes deux, sacrees roues!! Cela a de la gueule! I have just a small concern about the chain guide that you removed… At speed the chain will move a bunch from righ tto left and you will need somethingh to keep it from rubbing agains the tire. There is a good reason why Honda had that there!!!!! Try to mount a small guide to protect the tire. My 2 cts but of course I don’t know much about bikes haha!
    Salut, tres beau boulot, je serais peut au CO en August pour WCD…

    • Mike says:

      Hello Roland — I hear you. That particular chain guard is fortunately more a riding protection than a guide and thus we should be ok. While under acceleration, the upper part of the chain is in full traction and thus straight (very little lateral move). Under deceleration there can be some play and I’ll check how the chain behaves. Looking forward to seeing you back in Colorado!

      • Roland Linder says:

        Salut, I hope to come back in August and by then, maybe the bike would be ready for a short test. I will practice on my moped so I will remember the how to on a bike!
        Great job, she is a beauty. Got Jaco that block, he loves it too
        Hello to all and have a safe trip

  2. dustin says:

    hello mike my name is dustin i just have to say i have been looking for an xr 500 supermoto for a long time now and i am very glad someone has acctualy made this bike into a supermoto i have a 1981 xr 500 and you have inspired me to do this to my bike do you have any more pictures that you could upload ?

    • Mike says:

      Hello Dustin — Happy to read that you’re working on your own XR500 super moto project. I can take any picture you like and email them to you (have taken many more pix than I’m posting on the blog). Any particular detail I’ll be happy to document it. My email address is mike at — Let me know.

      • dustin says:

        im havin a pretty hard time with the little things since i live in a rural area but i just got a new front end with a disk brake 04 xr 400 i just got the bike so kick starting her is still difficult for me and of all things to happen the compression cable snaped off 30 year old cables have a give point apparently next thing to do will be to get an engine rebuild and paint

      • Mike says:

        There is a pretty good video on Youtube which describes possibly the easiest way to start an XR500 — here is the link in case you haven’t come across it:

        The XR400 front end is a good upgrade – have fun!

  3. jeremy says:

    hey mike another questions for you have u switched the rear brake over to a disk or is it still a drum brake i know i can buy a bracket an bigger disk for the front just wondering thanks jeremy

    • Mike says:

      The back brake is still the original drum with new shoes. Not stunning stopping power but in combination with the front disk it’s actually ok.

  4. bob says:

    could you do a 160 on the rear of that or would it rub u think

    • Mike says:

      A 160 rear tire would be very tight. Not because of the swing arm, probably enough clearance there, but the chain would be a challenge. You could ask for the rear wheel to be laced slightly offset to the right (brake side). Which is not recommended but could be done. Stick with a 150 if you can.

  5. bob says:

    u said woody did the rims how were they sealed would like to know thanks

  6. mike scott says:

    hi mike could you tel me what the frunt folks are iv just restord a 85 xr500r me being a auto motive spray painter hasnt been much of a problem, i do like the off road rides but sum sort of an idea of puting up side down folks be grate but not shore what i need could you help me pls?

  7. Mike says:

    Hi Mike,
    I’m trying to put together a dirt only low budget bike. I too have an 82 frame with a 1980 almost complete parts bike, kinda what you did. Couple questions if you don’t mind: does an 1980 rear wheel fit the 82 frame? Or can I mount an xl dual shock swing arm into the 82 frame? Thanks in advance, lots of good info here. Mike

    • Mike says:

      Good questions, but I’ll admit that I haven’t taken a close look at prolink and dual shock when it comes to interchangeable parts. There is a fair chance that the wheels are interchangeable. The swing arms though are not– you’ll need some fabrication and modifications on the frame to make this work. Good luck!

  8. mike says:

    iv done that above 1979 500 with 1982 rear’ have photos but cant up load here

  9. victor rasmussen says:

    Hello, I have been following you, but never got to ask where you got the white chain slider? Is it homemade? Kind regards, Victor.

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