The Yamaha XT550 is a rare machine these days. This dual sport — the predecessor of the XT600 — was only produced for two years: 1983-1984. The 558cc, air-cooled, four-valve single offered 38 horsepower, and the bike weighed 304 pounds dry. You rarely see one of these dual sports these days, let alone one that has been customized.
Enter Dustin Audet of Gibson Motorcycle Co., a custom motorcycle rental business based in Los Angeles:
“Gibsons is the west coast’s premiere purveyor of custom bikes for rent. Nothing quite compares to the allure of the open road when traveled on by motorcycle. The only thing better than chasing down the horizon on two wheels is doing so on a machine that has built and tuned to perfection.”
Dustin had already built three previous bikes before undertaking this XT550 scrambler build, dubbed “The Moon Man.” His mission was simple: build the ultimate curb-jumper.
Below, he gives us the full story on the build.
“The Moon Man” XT550 Scrambler: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Dustin Audet. I would say I’m a serial entrepreneur. I am in the hospitality business and own a coffee shop, a restaurant and a liquor store, all in Denver. I moved to Denver about in 2011 from the mountains, when I couldn’t snowboard all the time, I switched my focus to moto. I have always been a tinkerer — building motos is just another creative outlet, probably one of the more fun ones.
I moved to LA about 4 months ago for my wife’s business. Now its strictly moto for me. I am launching a customized motorcycle rental called Gibsons Motorcycle Co. Right now I have a built ’14 Triumph Bonneville (aka The Black Eye), a built ’16 Triumph Scrambler (The Goat), a ’83 Yamaha xs650 tracker (The Ace) and the ’82 Yamaha XT550(The Moon Man).
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
It’s a 1982 Yamaha XT550 with 2006 GSX-R forks. The XT550 was only made for two years, so that makes me an enthusiast or an idiot. Not sure which one yet.
• Why was this bike built?
Well, it was built because I always seem to need a project. I found a craigslist post listing a basket case project. It came in four boxes. This was a personal project, I just wanted to build something random.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I wanted the ultimate curb jumper, a bike that you could rock around town, blast up a mountain trail or just take to get a cup of coffee. I like bikes that are unexpected. I doubt anyone has heard of an XT550, let alone seen one built.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
I swapped out the GSXR forks, had a custom wiring harness built by Sparck Moto, and Aro Upholstery made me a killer seat one off. I painted the tank to match my 71’ Ford truck but added some classic Yamaha racing stripes. I modified the frame and added a 6-pack rack. All the electronics live in a vintage astronaut lunch box under the seat.
The rear wheel is a stock XT550 hub laced to a Thruxton rim. I think those are the big things, there are little pieces like custom brake lines, using the PIAA fog light, the Posh mini switch on the bars controls a built in garage door opener and a second kill switch (no key, just hidden kills).
• Please include a list of the changes made/parts use
- PIAA fog light for a headlight
- Renthal bars with Posh mini switch,
- 1971 Ford F100 pickup tank paint job (@rawfishdesigns)
- Custom seat (aro upholstery), fiberglass seat pan by me
- Custom wiring harness (sparck moto)
- Vintage astronaut lunch box electronics tray (Etsy find)
- Thruxton rear rim laced to the stock hub
- GSXR fork swap
- XT600 skid plate modified to fit
• How would you classify this bike?
Ahhh. A little bit street tracker, a little bit curb jumper, a little bit wheelie machine. I think it’s a cool combo of vintage thumper and modern handling.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
For me it’s the overall vibe of the bike. It’s not something you expect to see. It’s not a polished show bike. It’s just a super fun romper. If I had to pick one build element, I really like the built-in 6-pack rack. It sits inside the rear hoop, its pretty neat. I spent more time then I should have on it.