Yamaha XT500C Motorcycle Bought New In 1976

There’s no substitute for 500cc of two-valve thumper torque and the motorcycle memories that come with it.

1976 Yamaha XT500C motorcycle

John Bekanich – 1976 Yamaha XT500C

The original shocks, airbox, and exhaust system are long gone, replaced with aftermarket pieces from Fox, K&N, and Bassani/Supertrapp.©Motorcyclist

NAME: John Bekanich
AGE: 61
HOME: Jacksonville, Florida
OCCUPATION: Retired R&D Machinist

I bought this Yamaha new in February 1976, a few months after I was married. I read Bob Greene's 10-page write-up in the January 1976 issue of Motorcyclist, so I knew it would be something special. It was used a lot for commuting to work in northeast Pennsylvania, many times taking the long way home. There were a few off-road excursions, too, and still-present scars on the turn signals and headlight ring are reminders that it weighs 300-plus pounds, and trials universal tires are better kept off rocky trails and on pavement. It's hard to believe now that my wife and I used to spend days off riding two-up through the north Pocono hills in sneakers, blue jeans, and open-faced helmets, without a care in the world.

The original shocks, airbox, and exhaust system are long gone, replaced with Fox shocks, a K&N air filter, and a Bassani/Supertrapp exhaust. The engine has never been disassembled. The only maintenance ever needed was oil changes, valve and cam-chain adjustments, and occasional tune-ups with new contact points and spark plugs to keep the magneto ignition happy.

Over the years and a handful of job-related relocations, it’s been rolled out of the way and forgotten, replaced by a variety of more modern motocross, dual-purpose, and streetbikes. Recently I seriously thought about selling it, but my wife of 40 years talked me out of it, saying that whatever it sold for would never be enough to erase the seller’s remorse that would surely follow. I knew she was right.

Early retirement in 2015 allowed time for another good cleaning, a carburetor rebuild, and tune-up with fresh oil and gas. Now it’s taken on the occasional easy ride on Sunday mornings. I also have a KTM 950 Supermoto for the street and KTM 150 XC for off road, but there’s no substitute for 500cc of two-valve thumper torque and the memories that come with it. This time it’ll stay out of the dusty corner of the garage for good.

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