1976 Yamaha XS500


Faithful warhorse


Bike was thoroughly trashed when I got it (paid $50), used as a field bike, then (by the looks of it) purposely 'killed' by removing tappets from the valve rockers and running it. Required reassembly and replacement of the timing chain, none of this was the bike's fault.

Poorly cleaned pilot jet resulted in lean running condition, partially melting the head near the spark plug. Again, no the bike's fault.

At 42k, during a cross country trip from NY to CA, intake valves had built up enough carbon deposits to not seat properly, causing loss of compression. After cleaning off deposits (with Crest toothpaste) and reassembly, the bike was back to normal.

Upon return from trip, the previously melted head finally gave out and the sparkplug threads stripped. Replaced head with used one from junkyard.

Recently required replacement of balancer chain (replaced with junkyard motor chain)

Currently has 52+ k miles on it, burns a bit of oil, nothing serious though.

All in all, no issues that weren't caused by age or high mileage, or neglect and abuse.

General Comments:

A faithful old steed. Not very quick, even when you rev it out to 9k, but handles beautifully, the frame is very stiff. Brakes (front and rear disk) and excellent.

Runs great with regular and loving maintenance. Very easy to work on, high quality Allen bolts abound.

Gets 45-55 mpg depending on riding style/location.

Looks/sounds fantastic in black with gold pin striping and new 2-1 MAC exhaust. Perfect college campus cruiser.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th January, 2010

14th Jun 2014, 01:57

I bought mine in 1978 in Okinawa. It was quick (faster than me) and nimble, and got 69 MPG with a 4 gallon tank. I would not want to take it on long trips, Va to NY cured me of that, but would easily take my wife and I with power to spare. I would think about restoring it on a nice spring or fall day, but it hasn't happened yet. Like most old vehicles, the memories are probably better than the reality.