The Yamaha XT500 is one of the great all-around motorcycles ever built. Introduced in 1975, it was the proto-thumper, spawning generations of bulletproof four-stroke big-bore singles that could thread the urban jungle, rip the backroads, and play dirty in the woods with equal measure. The bike won the big African rallies, including the legendary Paris-Dakar, and four decades later, the XT500 has lost none of its sex appeal.
Enter Adriano Oliveira of Project Moto, who wanted to combine his passions of motorcycling, surfing, and skateboarding into a single machine. The XT500 was the perfect candidate. Adriano, who has won the Test of Time Award at The One Moto Show, incorporating an array of avionic materials and components, based on his work in the aviation industry. Helicopter fuel line is used as padding for the surfboard rack, and the fenders and side panels are cut from aircraft-grade aluminum.
The incredible photography for this feature is from Anthony at Enginethusiast, whose work is consistently staggering. He was kind enough to bring this bike to our attention — thank you, sir!
Below, we get the full story on the build from Adriano.
Yamaha XT500 Scrambler: Builder Interview
(Answers by Adriano Oliveira of Project Moto. Highlights by us.)
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Adriano Oliveira and my history with motorcycles really began in 2000 when I bought my very first bike (1982 Yamaha Virago 250). In 2010 I decided to go to Motorcycle Mechanics Institute to learn how to work on Harley-Davidsons. In my early days following school, I began to restore bikes starting with a 1976 CB400. In 2016, I received The One Moto Show’s Test of Time Award for restoring a 1938 Indian Four. Following this, I did several other restorations including a 1940 WWII Indian Scout, a 1939 Indian Dispatch Tow, and recently my 1979 XT500.
Unfortunately, motorcycles became just a hobby over the last few years as I’ve been working in the aviation industry, but a pretty serious hobby. I have a full shop at my house including metal fabrication equipment, welders, and a shitload of specialty tools. When I’m not at my full time job, you can definitely find me in my shop at home.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1979 Yamaha XT500
• Why was this bike built?
This bike was built as a personal project of mine.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I designed this bike based on the scrambler concept. I wanted to combine my passions of motorcycles, surfing, and skateboarding, and an XT500 was the perfect bike to make that happen. I wanted a way to ride my bike to the coast or to go skateboarding, and still be able to bring my gear with me. I’ve been working in the aviation industry for the last few years and this also influenced my design concept.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
I used aviation-grade aluminum for the side panels and fenders. I used avionic wires to re-wire the bike with LED lights.
I fabricated three different detachable racks, one for a surfboard, one for a skateboard, and one for saddle bags. The surfboard rack was padded using a helicopter fuel line to protect the board from getting dinged. I used a skateboard wheel as a drive chain tensioner. There is also a beer bottle opener mounted to the right side panel, because there is nothing better than a cold beer after surfing.
The bike has a custom leather seat. I fabricated a new set of foot pegs, which are also wrapped with matching leather.
I used a surfboard traction pad as the gas tank knee pads. The gas tank, side panels, fenders and the skid plate, have a raw metal, swirl design with a clear coating.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m proud of some of the creativity, for example, there were dents on both sides of the gas tank and it’s nearly impossible to find an XT500 gas tank in pristine condition for sale. I brainstormed a creative way past this by using a surfboard traction pad to cover the dents, which also ended up serving as gas tank knee pads.
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