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Xl500 army style trail bike?

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Sorry, not really sure where to put question for the xl500 but I just got a nice little offer from a friend, its an older xl500, back when it had dual shocks, the bike looks complete, has everything.. very rusty, shredded seat and I bet a seized engine, its been tipped on its side and left out side for who knows how long with the carb off.. anyways he said I could have it for $35 which is nothin.. soon thinking it would be cool to build it up into an old school looking military bike.. a few questions I had is, how much travel does the rear suspension have? And do these make good trail bikes? Kind of a pig at 312 pounds.. and is the gearing good on them? Can they be geared lower for steep slow climbing? Any other opinions is great!

Where I'm stuck on designing it is military bikes are cool with having the fenders that wrap all the way around the wheel, I want to keep the suspension, on the rear fender should I mount the fender to the swing arm so it hugs the tire close and moves with the bumps? Or should I have the fender coming off the frame so its stationary to the swing arm/wheel.. I want to put a rack on it to so I can load it up with camping gear.. maybe yall got better ideas?

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yikes.  if the carb has been off, AND outside, then expect the motor to be seized.  Moisture gets in on the piston, rings, cylinder walls, etc and rusts everything.

 

Not much suspension, and heavy, would be my first thinking, but right after that would be WOW, what torque.  Lots of fun tractoring around when it's running again. 

 

The gearing can be changed easy enough by you, just change the back or front sprockets and replace the chain to fit.  Boom, different gearing.

 

I'm not getting the military vibe from the xl, as it's more of a dirt bike, where as the mil bikes always seemed like a street type bike converted to dirt ( thinking 1945 and such ). 

 

If you're inclined to cut and weld, then you can do pretty much whatever you wish.  Otherwise, if you just do basic repair and replace mechanic stuff, then just a restore may be the way to go.  That in itself will be time consuming and spendy, i'd guess.

 

Plus, the availability of replacement parts may be a challenge too.  Them old bikes ( late 70s, early 80s, i'm thinking ) aren't around as much anymore, so they may be hard to re-build.  A second chassis for parts / rebuild may be a good choice, if you're really set on the xl500.

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Oh I've rebuilt many bikes, I'm expecting to have to bore it out with a new piston, I'm hoping the head/valves are salvagable, my first dirt bike rebuild was an 80's xr600.. I like the xl5 for the dual shocks.. I know can change the sprockets also, just not sure where to get and what fits on that rear.. but I think it'll be fun.. I'm not going for A full military style.. just trying to figure out what I want to do with it really, the paint isn't in good condition and its missing the side covers and the seat is shredded and lots of rust.. so I figured cut the back end off throw on a little cushioned triangle seat on springs, then wrap some metal around the wheels for those big fenders and paint it all matte black and green with a big white star and maybe put a little rack ontop of that back fender.. unless there was a way to really cut the weight off this pig, then I may go another way.. but I'm assuming all that weight is in the engine.. this is gonna be a trail bike.. I already have fast high jumping dirt bikes :)

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Ithink on this one its a single carb.. I hated the dual carb xr6.. ya idk, maybe just fix it and sell it.. I want a slow torquey go anywhere bike..

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How much did he have to pay you to take it??

 

Get some good before pictures so you can compare them to the after.

 

Good luck.  Sounds like fun and a money pit.

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I'm pretty sure in my thesaurus next to dirt bike it says money pit lol.. ya ill get pics for sure.. should be fun

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I'll keep my ears pierced for XL500s.  Post what you need.  This could be epic.

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Ha, good deal.  I hope you didn't take my ignorance for rudeness.  I noticed afterward that you had 300+ posts, so you probably know your stuff. So you already know the things I mentioned =).

 

Anyway, sounds like a fun project, but I'd agree, a money pit.  BUT, I bet you'd end up with a real interesting bike when you're done.

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You guys with the old school rebuild restore experience know about transmissions? My 1980 XL500S doesn't like load in first gear, except going downhill. It always pops to neutral, especially when trying to climb steep scary stuff. Any ideas or suggestions? In response to what I saw above about the $35 XL, great deal! It is single carb, and from my experience, is an awesome bike! Except for the 1st gear issue, mine goes just about anywhere!

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Muzz67, thanks so much! That looks like invaluable information. Now for the dumb boy question... I'm somewhat mechanically capable... Is that a super tough dig in and resolve? Looks pretty complicated.

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Muzz67, thanks so much! That looks like invaluable information. Now for the dumb boy question... I'm somewhat mechanically capable... Is that a super tough dig in and resolve? Looks pretty complicated.

Nah, just sounds complicated.

    Continue the other thread if you need to know anything,, rather than sidetrack this one.

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