Max Droog of Droog Moto Concepts, based in Phoenix, has been turning out some incredible builds. Recently we featured his CM400 scrambler build, and now he’s back with this burly scrambler based on an ’81 Honda XR500. The XR500, introduced in 1978, was the first model of the venerable Honda XR model line. In 1981, Honda discarded the unpopular 23″ front wheel for a 21-incher, and debuted the single-shock, “Pro-Link” rear suspension.
We’re big fans of dual-sport based customs, and Max outdid himself with this bike. He wanted to build a scrambler that not only looked rad, but could go anywhere. We’ll let him give you the full rundown on the build.
XR500 Custom Scrambler: In the Builder’s Words
I picked this bike up and could tell that it was going to need a lot of work. It was missing just about everything and looked like it was sitting outside for the last 10 years. I brought it home, got it running and started to figure out my lines.
I went through the entire motor, new Wiseco oversized piston, timing chain, all seals and gaskets to name a few. I knew that I wanted a rad looking scrambler, something unique, different, something that could go anywhere!
I first decided that the original front end had to go. It had drum style front brakes that sucked horribly so I swapped the front end out for a CR250 front end. Nice adjustable inverted forks with awesome hydraulic brakes. I then chopped up the tail, went with the classic style hoop and added some support mounts for extra rigidity.
After some frame work I picked up a Honda CL350 gas tank and fitted that with hand built mounts. The tank is odd, its more or less a two piece tank that has fittings on the bottom to let the left and right side transfer gas to one another, so fitting that along with the cross over tubes was a treat, but made it possible. I then stripped off all the 30+ year old paint and gave it a muriatic gasoline mix bath and let it sit and age, which really darkened the metal and gave it that old weathered look. At first, I was skeptical about the seat to tank gap, as usual rule is that everything should flow as one, but I think on a build like this the gap actually works quite well and shows off the build aspect on how the tank is put together and mounts, so I left it!
I fitted the exhaust to follow the rear frame and exit up high by the tail light. I fitted a small taillight in the rear to make it street legal along with the headlight. The headlight is recessed in a tracker style setting. I used caged mesh and stainless sheet metal to make the housing for the light and added some rivets for an industrial feel. I wanted to keep that touch so came up with the sheet metal front fender that was bent and worked to flow with the lines.
The bars where swapped out with 1 1/8” fat bars and super comfortable Biltwell grips. I wrapped the wheels in Kenda BigBlock tires that are actually awesome on the street and in the dirt. A TrailTech endurance speedo was added and has a lot of nice options for the rider. Overall this bike has to be one of the funnest bikes I have ridden. It has suspension for days, and a real get the F*** out of my way attitude. It is also for sale too!
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