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Honda XR500 Desert Racer

Posted on February 17, 2011 by Scott in Racer, Scrambler. 12 comments

This story starts in 1979, when a young 12 year old is flicking through a copy of his uncles Cycle Magazine and comes across a review of the newly released Honda XR500. The article makes such a huge impact on him that he promises himself that one day he will buy one. Now, 30 years later and Andrew Greenland has finally made that childhood dream happen. Andrew isn’t a newcomer to the pages of Pipeburn we featured his meticulous NX650 Street Tracker last year. As he says “ Honda fourstroke dirtbikes are definitely my thing.”

Here’s how Andrew describes the build: “The fuel tank came from a 1982 Honda XL500r Paris Dakar which was beat to hell but extremely rare, so I had to just get on with it. Seat was original; I had to cut 2.5 inches off the front to allow for the bigger tank and recovered with alcantara and vinyl. Mudguards are repro copies from the USA, sidepanels are originals, exhaust is original with a 3″ to 2″ reducer welded on the end. Also the front wheel is resized from a huge 23″ to a more normal 21″. I tracked down a NOS Speedo which again was very hard to come by. The motor was rebuilt, rebored and the valves were reworked. It’s got Renthal fat bars and Apico clamps up top, and a Baja designs 8″ Soltek race lamp out front. Just like the NX650, all paint was done in my shed with my ever faithful rattle cans.”

This bike looks better than the day it rolled off the production line back in 1979it probably rides a hell of a lot better as well. Andrew has definitely done a great job paying homage to early Dakar and Baja race bikes, and we look forward to the next bike to roll out of his shed and/or spray booth.

  • jack

    i loved andrews last piece of work, and this one is just as impressive. well done.

  • SportsterMike

    Love the bike – great quality of work
    I always fancied the XR600 Paris Dakar replica with the huge tank but don't see many good ones in the UK
    Regret selling my little XR250 Baja when I brought my Harley but I can only ride one bike at a time!!

  • KrookStreetRacing

    Lovely bike. There is something intangible about Honda that the other Japanese manufacturers can't quite match. I really like the way the black components contrast with the red. Well done!

  • lance Houston

    Honda posted many Baja 500 Victories in the late 70"s & early 80"s on the XR 500 . I don:t recall the riders, but I do
    remember the dominance of the XR in the Desert back then . Maybe its time for Honda to battle KTM in the Dakar..

  • kik


  • The last 3 bikes you have posted have all been amazing man, good job. It wouldn't be practical really, and not that it doesnt already, but without the front and back fenders this bike would look seriously badass.

  • Sproggy

    Such an incredibly clean bike – could have just rolled out of a showroom. Would love to know how the as-new finish was achieved on the engine.

  • Leebow

    I rode an XR 500 for a short time before I got my 86 XR600. I rode that 600 for four years straight before getting my VFR750.. Honda makes the best bikes for sure, but the XR series is something really special.
    Awesome build! Makes me wish i still had my XR600.

  • Michael Shepard

    My dirt bike is a purchased new 82 XL500R, stripped down, various adders to make it go fast, including an factory offerred Supertrapp Exhaust, re-jetted carb, lower gearing, big knobbies, and I LOVE IT..I am 63 and still tear up the local turf..wish Honda would go back to those simpler bikes..they run and run

  • Francesco

    Simply WONDERFULL!!! Please, where i can find the same gas tank?? Someone can help me? Thank’s for the help…

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  • Frennie

    Beautiful bike! Great lines.