1982 Yamaha XT 550 TESTAMENT!!


22 replies to this topic
  • earic23

Posted December 09, 2009 - 04:00 PM

#1

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Bought this bike for $1000 after coming off a bad wreck on an 03 zx6r ninja and I gotta say Im having more fun on this than I ever did on my sportbike that cost ten times as much, and went three times as fast. Why, because you cant work on a sportbike in your garage. You cant take a part off and paint it, or sand it, or tear the carbs apart, or drill holes, their just too damn nice to work on. Another reason for my new obsession with this old thumper is that I feel like a complete hooligan rippin around the streets of LA on it. Sidewalks and curbs are my friend and we hang out a lot.

I felt like my ninja had nothing left to teach me so I had to go a buck 40 everywhere to just enjoy it a little. It stuck to the roads, never needed work, always did exactly what I wanted it to. All of this is great, but you know what, that makes for one boring ride. My xt550 is a loose cannon, I take a turn hard I never know if its going to let loose or lift the front. I can blow wheelies out of red lights and freak the shit out of an intersection

Ive done quite a bit of work to the appearance but really havnt had to change a thing with the engine. I did have to update the brake and tach cables, throw a hardier chain on it, and put a new clutch gasket on it, but the rest is bondo, paint, and electronics. Led signals were a bitch to get working, but once they worked it was a victory.

Do yourself a favor, especially if your a beginner rider, and dont buy a sport bike. You wont learn as much, and youll crash before you get a chance to 99% of the time. Ive been riding hard for 6 years now and am thrilled to have found this whole new/old era of machines.

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  • Crashradius

Posted December 10, 2009 - 06:04 AM

#2

Nice bike I hope to be having the same kind of fun. I just bought an 83 and I am finding it difficult to get info and source parts Good luck Crash

  • Smacaroni

Posted December 10, 2009 - 11:36 AM

#3

I don't know what to say.
I love the bike. However (gives stern over the glasses/downturned nose look from the librarian at school after you just pushed your buddy into a desk and made him yell), quit being a hooligan. It doesn't help anybody and it's likely to get you killed, which in turn makes my insurance rates go up.
That being said, these things are great - everything but the brakes. I'm not sure what tires you're running, but on pavement, I've never had it step out or misbehave in a turn, what tires are you running? I've got Kenda Trakmaster II rubber on the rear and some ordinary unassuming DS rubber on the front, works great.
I love the grunt on this thing, it's a piece of cake to bring the front end up, but there's a time and place - not on public streets.
Ok, I'll stop.
The only thing I could really ask for from this bike is they made the frame a hair shorter, I'm 5'8" w/ a 30" inseam and can put both feet on the ground, but at times, it's a stretch. And disk brakes up front. Otherwise, this thing was ground breaking for it's era and still is an awesome piece of machine, in spite of being too heavy for dirt, too light for street with a funky dual carb dual exhaust setup that nobody has after market stuff for and a far too limited production run of just two years.
I'd recommend it to anyone with a reasonable amount of experience.

  • Biddyboo

Posted December 10, 2009 - 08:07 PM

#4

I've had mine since 01 [I got busted by the DNR riding my atv on gravel roads] so now I can go anywhere except private property after you learn to ride in mud any day is a good day to ride. Last friday our off road club had a night ride I made it untill 11:00 when I left it was 14 degrees F. They are fun machines.

  • Smacaroni

Posted December 11, 2009 - 05:22 AM

#5

Is yours a real PITA to start below freezing too? I recall one morning, it was perhaps 25 degrees, was a hell of a time starting it. Even went so far as to push start it, I'm sure the neighbors appreciated that at 7:00 a.m.
That was several months before my pulser coil failed, so I don't think it was related to that, but it's possible.
The XT will go much farther into much harsher territory than any ATV ever would, you made a great swap. It handles pretty well with knobbies on pavement too.

  • mcnutty

Posted December 11, 2009 - 10:18 AM

#6

I know what you mean about having more fun on the slower bikes than on the faster more dangerous ones. I love my XT for its simplicity and reliability. It goes anywhere and never complains. I was set to purchase a pair of XT550s to work on last winter but my job did not agree with it at the time so I had to let them go. I have a '92 XT600 currently.

Not bagging on you but i'm wondering why you are sticking you leg out in those turns? Doesn't seem like you're at the point in the lean where that is needed yet....

  • earic23

Posted December 11, 2009 - 10:27 AM

#7

I would agree that the brakes suck. I took them apart, cleaned them good and put new cables on it and its better, but there def not disc brakes.

My tires are Kenda as well and they are bloody terrible. They might as well be made of wood. Their too hard and slide out constantly (which is why my leg is stuck out). I plan on getting Avon Distanzias, which are amazing on pavement.

Im afraid the hooliganism isnt gonna stop tho, I blame the bike for being too much fun.

  • Smacaroni

Posted December 11, 2009 - 12:47 PM

#8

Try the Trakmaster II, it's got a fairly nasty looking knobby on it, and to date, I've had no problem with grip on dry pavement. On wet pavement I haven't tried to push it that hard because I have to make money, I can't make money in the hospital with my legs and arms in traction.

  • RacerXr

Posted December 11, 2009 - 03:38 PM

#9

Brakes on the 550 are the worst. My 78 XT/TT500 stops much better than my brother's 550. Swapping the front end for something appropriate with a disk brake is a good way to go. Don't get crazy though with a modern MX upside down fork setup. That's like putting cragar's/spinners/24's on your pinto (also known as trying to polish a turd).

The trackmaster II's are a bad way to go for street use. The tall hard nobs give a vague feel if you push the bike at all and break loose with little warning. I think the tires earic23 are perfect for his application. If you are offroad 90+% of the time, then the trackmaster II's are good tires.

A custom made mid-pipe and supertrapp slip-on can help it breath a little more. But it has more effect on the sound than the power. (checking your pics, it looks like you figured out something for the exhaust already)

Clarke makes a plastic tank and IMS sells weld on peg wideners.

Other than that, I wouldn't try to do too much with the bike. The frame and linkless rear suspension are going to be limiting factors if you try to do too much more than that. The bike has a great power band. I like that motor better than the motor in my XR650L.

BTW, that's a very nice looking 550.

  • Biddyboo

Posted December 13, 2009 - 11:46 AM

#10

Is yours a real PITA to start below freezing too? I recall one morning, it was perhaps 25 degrees, was a hell of a time starting it. Even went so far as to push start it, I'm sure the neighbors appreciated that at 7:00 a.m.
That was several months before my pulser coil failed, so I don't think it was related to that, but it's possible.
The XT will go much farther into much harsher territory than any ATV ever would, you made a great swap. It handles pretty well with knobbies on pavement too.


Yes it starts hard when cold I use 0w40 syn oil to help. The oil pump drive gear is plastic if I ruined the engine we would be talking to different people on different threads.

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  • Airoyster

Posted December 13, 2009 - 12:38 PM

#11

Two wheels on the road and both feet on the pegs.....the chances of crashing are greatly reduced.......and everyone else's insurance premiums won't suffer either.

  • reltor

Posted December 14, 2009 - 03:54 PM

#12

Two wheels on the road and both feet on the pegs.....the chances of crashing are greatly reduced.......and everyone else's insurance premiums won't suffer either.


Not to mention you dont hit a pothole or pavement irregularity and rip your foot off. I knew a big healthy guy that broke his ankle dragging his foot at about 10mph in a parking lot.

  • earic23

Posted December 15, 2009 - 10:09 AM

#13

guys ive been in one crash in 6 years and it was riding 100% normal, not flying around or anything. So with that in mind, Im safer driving around like a bat out of hell. People tend to notice that. Quit talking about insurance premiums. These old bikes cost like 100$ a year to fully insure.

  • chrispartida

Posted August 15, 2010 - 06:28 PM

#14

I just stumbled onto this thread looking for a new chain for my '82, pretty good testament, Earic. I'm stoked that you loved it so much, the feeling goes the same in my case.

Funny finding a post about the bike I ended up buying from you, ha.

Any chance you've still go those brush guards?

  • earic23

Posted August 16, 2010 - 01:58 AM

#15

I just stumbled onto this thread looking for a new chain for my '82, pretty good testament, Earic. I'm stoked that you loved it so much, the feeling goes the same in my case.

Funny finding a post about the bike I ended up buying from you, ha.

Any chance you've still go those brush guards?


Yea man I had a lot of fun w/ that bike, but needed something a little easier for my daily commuting. Kick starting with a bum leg got to be a pain.
I dont have any of that bike anymore. I moved to silverlake where theres zero room for spare parts so Im afraid my storing stuff days are over.
The chain kicked it? I spent like $120 on that freakin thing just a month or two before I sold it.

  • chrispartida

Posted August 17, 2010 - 10:58 AM

#16

I know what you mean about the kicking over. Can be a chore sometimes. The little useless start button on the throttle body is a tease.

I might try first giving the chain a good solvent bath and lube. It's got some definite sag in parts of it, and sticky links in others. Think I'll have to replace the sprockets sometime soon, too.

Edited by chrispartida, August 17, 2010 - 05:28 PM.


  • rocky-in-cali

Posted April 21, 2011 - 10:49 PM

#17

I've got an '83 XT550 that I bought about 18 months ago. It is my first bike in over 10 years, since my GSXR1100 scared the heck out of me one night on the way to Vegas. (140+ is a scary feeling on public roads). I LOVE this bike. It's simple, rugged, makes gobs of torque, and sips the $4.00 gasoline at a much lower rate than my Oldsmobile. The only complaints I have come from poor maintenance practices by former owners. If I ever get my hands on the guy that thought it was OK to use channel locks on the valve adjustment caps, I may have to go to prison.

  • coderxt550beast

Posted November 25, 2012 - 09:00 AM

#18

It is difficult to keep both tires on the ground lol. I wrecked on a 60 mile an hour wheelie and busted my bike up pretty bad, i finally just about have it back together. It is so balanced for wheelies and it revs so nice when its in the air, doesnt die out like normal 4 strokes bikes. It will balance it self right in the air you barely have to feather the throttle. It is acually so balanced when i wrecked it slid across the pavement 60 mile an hour straight up on the rear fender, it didnt stop till it slamed into a telephone pole. It ground the licence plate right off! i probly could of got up and ran and got it while it was straight up if it wouldnt of caught to the the right and into the brush LOL.

  • lostinpa

Posted October 01, 2013 - 08:59 AM

#19

I have a 1981 XT 550 i have been riding for over 25 yrs 2 nd motor 60,000 miles. I love it so much , I often opt for it over my clunky shadow 1100. The bike would have been perfect if water cooled and lordy , after all these yrs I am still looking for that 6th gear sometimes . I plan on reconditioning my baby this winter and surely going to be looking for odds and ends .



  • gracb

Posted October 05, 2013 - 11:52 PM

#20

hi,I bought my XT550J new in may 1982 and still have it. it has done 85000 km (over 50,ooo mile ) and had a top end rebuild at 42000km - first oversize piston and a cam chain, this was after i lost the bike in a flooded river crossing-it spent about 18 hrs underwater till the river dropped and i could safely retrieve it, total engine strip to clean all the silt out. hit a cow at 80kph  (50mph) on it,bounced off an old ford that was driving on the wrong side of the road once,also.did an outback trip in 87' 8000km, 6500 on dirt roads-7 punctures.

semi retired the 550 in the mid 90's replaced it with a 81 bmw r80gs as my main transport  (still have the bmw).

the 550 was totally reliable never let me down.have 3 more 550's picked up complete non runners for  $160 to $200 over the yrs. . Have had the yamaha disease for a while,currently have 20  of them.

safe riding   g. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 
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