12th Sep 2013, 17:46

Hilarious write up. I laughed the whole time I read it!

3rd Mar 2018, 02:33

Sounds like you had bought a lemon. Most XS500 Yamahas were pretty reliable and fun to ride.

5th Jul 2018, 01:14

Thanks for a favorable review of the XS500-C. I have mine with 17,000 miles and I bought it new in 1976 at Clints Cycles in Boulder Colorado. My question is; do you know what the word "FRONT" means under the direction arrow on the tire sidewall? Both my front and rear tires say FRONT and I am wondering if that means the arrow is supposed to point towards the front of the bike??? Or is the rear tire supposed to say "REAR" under the direction arrow? I ask because my 100/90 - 18 ContiGo rear tire is merely an 1/8" wider than my ContiGo 3.25 - 18 front tire... and the rear tire looks skinny like a bicycle tire. Please it's OK if you are not 100% sure of the answer, as I have wasted a lot of time and found some unreliable responses.

Thank you, Tom R in Louisville, Colorado USA.

25th Aug 2020, 21:59

Brilliant! UK Memories of my friend's disaster Yamaha flooding back as I described the bike to my wife.

My mate's XS 500 was always in the shop from new. PH Allen who sold the bike in Cambridge could not work out why the XS had so many top end problems. I remember riding my Z650 B3 to a full-on machine shop, with smoke stained wooden walls when you walked in on an industrial estate in Coventry with my friend on the bike (+ his cylinder head) to get the head worked on as the cam-chain kept failing.

XS 500: Looked great, sounded great, functionally incapable of operating normally.

1st Jan 2023, 17:37

I didn't really need another bike. But I bought a 76/77 XS500 non running in 2022 as a project with 27500 miles on it. The XS500 is a parallel twin 180º crank with DOHC and 4 valve heads. I have previously owned a 70's XS400 which I was a good bike with good torque, though unrefined compared to a Superdream 400.

This XS 500 is in OK condition, but would need the carbs cleaned and the front tyre replaced. Battery chain and sprockets and a new set of forks were also required. The airbox being refitted after some idiot fitted pod filters to it without changing the jetting?

My engine shows low compression on my gauge (100 psi) but idles perfectly and uses no oil from what I can see. I think compression has improved slightly with use as I suspect the rings may not quite be sealing up.

Engine was soon running and was quiet and smooth. Deafening Dunstall copies helped mask any noises the engine was making! First impressions were how smooth the engine was. Engine has a complex balancer shaft arrangement that needs checking on early models. Mine was still at the beginning of its adjustment, suggesting the engine had been well maintained in the past. I had been riding a Hayabusa when I jumped on this, but performance compared with my XBR500 was lacklustre. Front brake was dreadful, but somewhat improved with new pads and a master cylinder rebuild. The Mikuni BS38 carbs on these bikes are a bit fickle to set up, floats needed to be replaced with ones that did as their name suggested. It's quite common to find half the choke linkage missing on these carb's, but Yambits have them in stock!

But I must mention the oil filter. You can't get them! They are a M22 thread and the few you can find online are stupid prices, often over £100. There is however an adapter that Yamaha made part number (9999-02290) that can sometimes be found. There are also 3rd party manufacturers making a good version too.

Standard headlamp uses a now defunct headlamp bulb, so I replaced the whole lamp with a modern 60/55 Watt type. This makes the headlamps just usable.

The ignition system is points and is a reliable system with frequent maintenance. I have however adapted mine to run on Bosch electronic ignition modules from the German cars in the 80's. This makes for a maintenance free setup.

On the road the bike will hold 70MPH all day, the only problem is the noise from the exhausts! The fuel consumption around town is high 50's so not great but OK. Power comes from above 3K and has a bit of a powerband at 6500, nothing to get excited about though. Handling is stable and feels planted on the road. Looks wise, some say it's ugly, some like it. I am not fond of the big plastic rear mudguard and number plate light. But as they say "It is what it is".

The truth is I really like riding and tinkering with this bike, it makes me feel like a teen again.


Cheap classic.


Looks OK (to some).

Cheap insurance, no tax!


Not great performance.

Quite heavy for a 500 (210Kg).

Brakes not great.

22nd Jan 2023, 19:54

I think this reviewer is writing about the wrong bike. Semi-chopper style??? That's not an XS500!