Friday, May 23, 2014

Yamaha XT

In the early eighties I bought a Yamaha XT 250, my first motorcycle.  I was in my last year of college and didn't have much money, a used bike was my only option.  I ended up buying a used bike with very low mileage.  The previous owner already had installed a Supertrapp exhaust and it came with a brand new Yamaha jacket and an AGV helmet.  I had never ridden a motorcycle but the day I picked it up I mounted the bike and rode it home, no license or insurance.  I was young and taking risks was no biggie.  I later got a permit but never got my license.  A year later I got married, sold the bike and soon thereafter moved from South Africa to the USA.
In 1980 the first generation XT 250 had a 4-stroke, single-cylinder, 249cc SOHC air-cooled, 2 valves/cylinder with 22HP @ 8600 rpm.   The second generation released in 1984 had its top-end output reduced to 17HP @ 7,500 rpm due to emissions control considerations.  The XT had a single shock running up the center under the tank.  This photo is from the Wiki page

In 1982, the movie "First Blood" hit the box office starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo.  In the movie when Rambo flees from prison he rides a stolen Yamaha XT 250.  Most people didn't notice but if you listen closely the bike sound is from a 2-stroke engine.  The director obviously decided the 2-stroke screaming sound would fit better with the hectic atmosphere of the chase scene.

I had so much fun with the little XT 250.  I rode the bike everywhere I could night or day, highway and dirt roads.  I was only 22 and felt invincible. This is a scan from a badly deteriorating photo and yes, before you ask, I was going out to a party and was wearing red corduroy pants and nice shoes. It was the early eighties, corduroy was in style.

Last year I rode to Ouray, Colorado for the second Yamaha Super Tenere gathering and at the end of the meet I went north making a stop in Aspen.  While walking around town taking photos I come around a corner and right there in front of me was a Yamaha XT 250 exactly like the one I had.  I couldn't believe my eyes, same color and same generation.

Seeing the XT 250 again 30 years later brought back lots of good memories.  It wasn't in the best shape but with a little TLC it could still be turned into a good motorcycle.  I didn't have a chance to see the owner.

A few weeks ago, I am returning home from my parents home and came upon a XT 500 for sale.
The Yamaha XT500 is a twin-valve single-cylinder enduro-adventure motorcycle made by Yamaha from 1975 until 1981.

The bike was a big success and it laid the ground for the later range of XT bikes ranging from the XT125cc to the current XT660Z Ténéré (the 660 is not available in the USA) and XT1200Z super Ténéré.  The XT series contributed largely to Yamaha's image.
The XT proved its performance and reliability by winning the first big African rallies, which were on the rise in the late seventies. It started with Paris–Abidjan-Nice and then the Paris–Dakar Rally, which confirmed the supremacy of the XT 500. Wiki
The old and new XT

The owner came out and started the bike for me, it was great to hear the thumping sound of the big 500, the sound bringing back good memories of my XT 250.   If I had the money I would have bought this bike but with three bikes already in my garage I don't think my wife would have been happy.


  1. Nice memories indeed. My first bike was a 1974 Yamaha DT-175, and after a few months traded it in at my local Yamaha dealership for a 1974 Yamaha DT-360. I also installed a DG expansion chamber with a silencer to reduce the noise, lol

    1. Thanks for reading Kofla. Yea, these were amazing bikes, I had lots of fun with mine.

  2. Yea, you had bought yours before me. You were also with me in Aspen when we saw it.

  3. You may not have bought the 500, but at least you got to hear the rumble and it brought back the good memories.

    1. I really wanted it :-(
      You right, the good memories count, I'm happy with what I have.

  4. George, that was a nice walk down memory lane. BTW, nice pants...I had some in brown. :-)


    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy.

    1. Thanks Curt. It's a pity I only have a few photos from that time. Now I take gazillions of photos wherever I go :-)