“Street sweet. Dirt worthy. Good time transportation…”
That’s how Honda described their lineup of XL dual-purpose motorcycles in their big 1979 magazine advertisement. The ’79 Honda XL500S was the “New King Single” of the bunch, a 32-hp dual-sport that offered automatic decompression release, twin counter-rotating balance shafts, and weighed just 297 pounds dry. In 1979, Cycle World called the XL500 “the closest-yet to the perfect on-off road machine.”
Enter the Loose Screw, a collective of moto-minded mechanics, designers, engine-builders, and metalworkers located in Bavaria, near Munich. Their workshop also serves as a community garage, where people can wrench on their own bikes:
“You can rent space, tools and the creative input and support comes from the other lovely people working on their projects. Our projects for customers run parallel to this. So there’s always something to see.”
Back in 2016, we featured this Honda NX650 “Adventure Tracker” from one of the Loose Screw members, Tobias Mayr. Now the crew is back with a modernized 1979 Honda XL500. This time we spoke with Enrico Pauli, who said the owner had a few interesting bikes in his quiver already, but needed something for the dirt:
“The mission was pretty clear: Create something that can take a beating and really go off-road but with a classic touch to it.”
Inspired by pre-80s motocross machines, the Loose Screw crew restored the entire bike from the ground up, including a rebuilt engine, forks, overhauled frame — no part was left untouched. For the design and paint, they worked with Vicky of vaim.me, who turned their vision into a beautiful white, black, and gray color scheme with red highlights.
We especially love the true dirt-focus of this build, which promises to give the owner years of fun off-road. Says Enrico:
“A technically super solid enduro with modern touches here and there. Maybe it’s a scrambler that can really scramble, like proper dirt munching. With some patina this thing is going to be a real beauty.”
Below, we get the full details on the build, along with some killer shots from photographer Alex Dietrich.
Honda XL500S Enduro / Scrambler: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
We are the Loose Screw, a custom workshop in Bavaria near Munich. The Loose Screw was established out of creative collective, mixing up all kinds of bike-interested people wanting to build unique stuff. This collective still exists only that we have established a business around bikes a couple of years ago. We have guys with a background in metalwork and a professional industrial mechanic, an engine builder, and many guys with other talents. By the way: our workshop is open to everybody who is looking to wrench on his or her own bike. Be that maintenance, restoration or a complete custom build. You can rent space, tools and the creative input and support comes from the other lovely people working on their projects. Our projects for customers run parallel to this. So there’s always something to see.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Honda XL500 1979.
• Why was this bike built?
The owner of the bike already had a couple of interesting bikes in his quiver. A long-haul Dominator, a classic BSA, a Café Racer XS400, and now he wanted something to be mainly suitable for off-road terrain, from mud to forest roads. Getting there on its own sets of wheels was also a must. So when he got his hands on a good condition XL500, the deal was sealed and the mission was pretty clear: Create something that can take a beating and really go off-road but with a classic touch to it. Some guys at the Loose Screw Ranch, also myself, started their first off-road experiences, of course all mainly on classic motocross bikes, so this XL500 came just in time so to say.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
So, we had a 70s KTM around, another XL and also an XT250 and 500. We wanted to be inspired with elements from that era. Not too much in terms of modifications but with a few improvements on points where we thought it was necessary. Geometric and clean lines from pre-80s motocross gave us the ideas of what we wanted to do with the XL.
With some ideas and a very rough concept we approached Vicky of vaim.me – she then turned our vision into something really on point with the white, black, grey scheme and red highlights. The linear graphics on the mask are the icing on the cake. On overall, the look had to be rough and tough. We think we achieved that.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The project started with a complete restoration. This includes rebuilding the big 500ccm 1 cylinder engine. Forks, electrics and what can we say, no part was kept untouched.
With a freshly overhauled frame we went all out on this one. Besides the aforementioned mask, maybe the Super Trapp modified exhaust is the other icing on the cake – not sure. Ha! Other modifications include:
- MOD Self-made front mask with 2 LED headlights
- MOD 18” 2.5 inch rear rim for a bigger motocross tyre
- MOD Self-made seat plate with a custom seat
- Every MODs without cutting anything of the frame
- Custom painting
- New electric harness with LED turn signals
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Not yet, we’ll ask the owner to visit after his first off road excursions.
• How would you classify this bike?
I’d say it goes into the direction of a restomod. A technically super solid enduro with modern touches here and there. Maybe it’s a scrambler that can really scramble, like proper dirt munching. With some patina this thing is going to be a real beauty.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’d say the mask, paint job, and the seat. This is a pretty cool build overall.