1982 Honda XR500R Tracker

Honda XR500 Tracker

There’s nothing much we love more than a big single dual sport built into a custom tracker or scrambler, and this is one of the best we’ve seen by Scott Haslam of Utah.  It’s a 1982 Honda XR500R bought for just $400, running suspension from a CRF450R with a blown motor.  It’s a true DIY garage build, and in the end, it cost Scott ~$3500 and 100 man-hours.  We’ll let him tell you the rest in his own words.

DIY XR500 Custom:  In the Builder’s Words

This project started with a friend who owns a bike shop called BangMoto. He had a 79′ Honda xl500 and we decided we were going to build our bikes, which are almost identical, at the same time.

I found this 1982 Honda XR500R on a local classifieds (KSL) for $400. It barely ran, but was a steal in my opinion. Everything was in pretty good shape for being over 30 years old.

Stock Bike
The Stock Bike

My friend and I wanted to have modern dirt bike suspension, as the original plan was to make these into enduro’s. I tried finding the front and rear end by itself from somebody parting out their bike, but it turned out being pretty difficult and expensive to get them that way. I ended up finding some guy on KSL who had this 06′ Honda crf450r with a blown motor. Somehow I managed to talk him down to $500 (a miracle for sure).

Honda CRF450R Donor
Honda CRF450R Donor Bike

I stripped the XR500R down to frame and motor, and began to mock up the front and rear end. This was definitely the most difficult part of the build, mainly because my fabrication skills are limited. Luckily I had some guidance from my friend, and eventually got everything how I wanted it. My friend welded some tabs on the back and we cut up on old fender from the junkyard to mount on the back (see finished picture).

Mocking up the Front end

I cleaned up all of the unnecessary tabs on the sub frame, as well as shortened it up. I got some pipe from the local metal mart and took it to a buddy with a pipe bender, and welded it onto the back where I shortened it. My friend likes to cut up old bmx handle bars for this. It works pretty well, and that way you do not need to bend the bar.

I picked up this 70’s cb350 tank from a local bike boneyard for $40. It definitely needed some love to get to what it is, including dent removal, and new paint job and a new billet aluminum cap. Removing the rust from the inside is also necessary, which is done by using hydrochloric acid (my friend cleans pools and had some) and swishing it around in the tank. This will remove the rust almost instantly. Make sure to use some soda ash to neutralize the acid after, otherwise it will just rust again. I fabricated mounts onto the frame for this tank, as it is obviously not going to fit otherwise. I also had to create a new bar stops so that my forks didnt hit the tank and dent it.

Tank and Subframe

I bored out the cylinder, and had the valves resurfaced, as well as put a high compression piston in so it ran like new again. This was my first tear down, so the manual was very handy. I also took lots of pictures, to help me remember bolt placement.  The motor was pretty filthy, so I asked the shop who did the machining to bead blast the entire top end to give it a new look. It turned out great, but the bottom end was still filthy, so I wire brushed the entire thing. It took forever, but it was worth it.

While the motor was being machined, I sent the frame, swingarm, and a bunch of other small parts to be powder coated. Powder coat is great because it holds up well to high and low temps, and is fairly cheap.

I built a seat pan and sent it to an upholsterer friend. I was so happy with how the seat turned out, that I asked him to custom make a matching tank strap, which really adds a lot to the bike in my opinion. I wanted 19″ front and rear tires, which I now regret, because I had to customize the spokes to fit the front hub and rim. I will also add a larger back tire in the future, because currently I am running 2 front tires. I wrapped the rusty old headers with white heat tape, which is a cheap mans way of making your exhaust look cool. This was really easy, and is a great, cheap way to update the look of your bike. I picked up the supertrapp for $275 new, and had to cut down the elbow connecting it to the headers to make it work. This exhaust is awesome, and is customizable for the sound and torque you want.

Honda XR500R Custom Tracker

These older bikes without batteries come wired 6v, so I purchased a moose 12v regulator for $24, which really cleaned up the wiring and is necessary for any new lighting setup. The headlight and taillight came from ebay and were together around $100. I had the tank painted by a local body shop, and had them stencil in my friends bike shop logo (BangMoto). They did an awesome job! I am probably missing some things, so feel free to ask questions in the comments section. The bike cost around $3500 for everything, and at least 100 man hours. It was a real challenge to build, but I hope it gives some inspiration to any who want to customize their old motorcycle.

Follow Scott and Friends on Instagram: @ScottHaslam | @BangMoto



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  2. Hey Scott – did the swingarm from the CRF bolt onto the XR frame without modification?

    Awesome, awesome bike!

    • Chris, you might want to ask Scott directly on Instagram: @ScottHaslam. If that doesn’t work for you, let me know and I’ll ask him if it’s cool for me to give you his email. Glad you like the bike, brother!

      • Thats the stuff that the readers are really interested in. Help @ScottHaslam write an awesome article the way he helped you make an awesome bike. He appears to have a lot of knowledge on the build, and I promise you that everybody who stumbles on this article only finds it because they were looking for the info that Chris and I typed into google search. Now I probably wont go to any other articles on this site, because the first one I visited was devoid of any applicable knowledge relating to motorcycles.

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  5. Hi my name is Garett I have a 1983 xr500r want to know what you did for a wiring harness to run 12 V lights I was wondering did you have to change the flywheel 2XL 500 I just was thinking of a high output stay there and a 12 V regulator would that do the trick with the old flywheel or do I have put a xl500 flywheel on to ,did you make your own wiring harness or did you get an aftermarket one somewhere I don’t want to have to run the battery no need for lights were not driving thank you please respond need help bad

  6. Wayne Wagner

    Hello my name is wayne i would like to get some info on what had to be done to retro fit the crf suspension as I am about to do the same any info would be appreciated so im not totally blind on this project love the bike btw im going with the xr tank and seat to keep the more dirt bike look ty

  7. That is a rather complex build. You should make an article that has a LOT more technical information about this build. The engaging part about this sort of build is that the reader might be able to emulate it in their own way. The attainability of it is why this is interesting. Im in the middle of doing a fork swap on my XR, and found that this article was not helpful at all. Remember when you didnt kniw shit about what this build would take, all you knew was that you wanted to do it? Thats your audience. Except they dont all have “your friend” to tell them the details verbally.

  8. I am building out an XR 500R to race in the Vet class next year (V-100 this class requires that the bike and rider combined must be 100 years old!) I was curious if all you did was add the Moose regulator to the system to get 12 volts? Or did you need to mess with re-winding the stator?
    Thanks for the help. You built out one Bad Ass Canyon machine…

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