La Bastarda: Yamaha XT550 Restomod Scrambler

Yamaha XT550 Scrambler

In 1982, Yamaha released the XT550 as the next evolution of their four-stroke dual-purpose single-cylinder motorcycle. The 550 had big shoes to fill, as the XT500 it replaced was a multi-time winner of the Paris Dakar Rally and remains one of the most beloved thumpers of all time.

The XT550 had a new SOHC engine that featured a four-valve head, dual-stage intake, and a counterbalancer to curb vibration from the big 558cc single. Cycle World was well impressed with the new engine:

“In the 550’s case, any rider with experience on the previous Yamaha 500 Single, or the Honda or Suzuki 500s or previous English thumpers will know right away: The XT550 works better than anything current or previous. It idles and accepts however much or little throttle it’s given. The perfect trials engine, except that it’s just as strong in the middle and pulls right on the redline, no problem at all.” –CW, 1982

The XT550 also featured a new monoshock rear suspension and double-wishbone swingarm — innovations first introduced on Yamaha’s motocross bikes. While the 320-lb wet weight made the XT a bit of bear off-road, it managed to outperform not only its ancestors, but most of the other dual-sports in its class.

“The XT550 isn’t an IT465. But it will take you nearly anyplace any dirt bike can go, and it’s so much better off road than the XT500 ever hoped to be…” –Cycle World

XT550 Scrambler

Enter our new friend Beniamaino “BenBen” Godeas of Udine, Italy — a lovely town in Northeast Italy that’s home to Filling Station Motel (FSM), a custom workshop, service station, and cocktail bar located in the city center. This ’83 XT550 was actually BenBen’s father’s bike, though it had been disused for most of its adult life. Says BenBen:

“After 33 years sitting in the garage, I decided to buy it from him and make it my bike… The idea was to think about how Yamaha would release a new XT550 in 2023.”

XT550 Scrambler

The old XT550 was stripped down and the frame and new Excel Takasago rims powder-coated black. Up front, the bike is now sporting a set of modern Paioli / Kayaba forks from a VOR 503 — an exotic Italian-built four-stroke — along with a 21″ front wheel and disc brake. Custom aluminum fenders replace the old plastic ones for a more classic enduro look.

XT550 Scrambler

Basso Gabriele of Tappezzeria Basso upholstered the custom saddle, while Francesco Giomini of Carrozzeria Bontà laid down the paint and Claudio Pascolutti of Wrap’ n Go made up the new decals. Together, the look is modern yet classic, as if Yamaha really did release a retro dual-purpose bike — we wish they would!

XT550 Scrambler

FSM completed the package with a rebuilt and repainted engine, along with a suite of lights, gauges, and other accessories from top-shelf brands KOSO and KEDO.

XT550 Scrambler

Nicknamed “La Bastarda,” this XT550 is both a unique restomod scrambler and a vision of what today’s manufacturers could do if they wanted to produce retro dual-sports — a corollary to retro streetbikes like the XSR series.

XT550 Scrambler

Of course, custom is always better, and BenBen’s father’s bike is now a machine unlike anything on the road in Udine or beyond. Bravissimo!

Yamaha XT550 Restomod: Owner Interview

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

Ciao da Udine, Italy! I am Beniamaino, BenBen to my friends. I have two bikes, a Ducati Monster 600 from 2001 and this Yamaha XT550 from 1983. As you may have guessed, I like carburetors!

XT550 Scrambler

• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?

Yamaha XT550 from 1983.

XT550 Scrambler

• Why was this bike built?

It was my father’s bike. After 33 years sitting in the garage, I decided to buy it from him and make it my bike, updating it to bring it into 2023!

XT550 Scrambler
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The customization was inspired by a restomod scrambler style. The idea was to think about how Yamaha would release a new XT550 in 2023.

XT550 Scrambler

• What custom work was done to the bike?

Paioli / Kayaba forks from the VOR 503 and YSS monoshock. Minor changes to the chassis to integrate the logo of Filling Station Motel. Front wheel with Excel Takasago 21″ rim. Muffler from MASS Moto Exhausts and exhaust manifold from Bull Exhaust. 

XT550 Scrambler

Full powder coating of the frame and rims, custom paint job by Francesco Giomini from Carrozzeria Bontà. Custom saddle made by Basso Gabriele from Tappezzeria Basso, decals by Claudio Pascolutti from Wrap’ n Go, all expertly packaged by the F.S.M. – Filling Station Motel workshop.

XT550 Scrambler

To top it all off: Koso headlight, taillights, and speedometer, and more stuff like this from Kedo.

• Does the bike have a nickname?

“La Bastarda” or “The Beastard.”

XT550 Scrambler

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?

The bike is a pleasure, rough and ready right away!

XT550 Scrambler

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

The result is absolutely the thing that makes me most proud!

Follow the Builders

Saddle: Tappezzeria Basso
Paint: Carrozzeria Bonta
Owner: @beniaminogodeas


  1. The original version was nicer. And it probably didn’t have a bent rear fender.

  2. A very appealing result. Complimenti! Tasteful upgrades- suspension, braking- focussed on improving riding performance and enjoyment. Sure, the original is perhaps nicer… but only in a museum or a collector’s garage. However this custom XT550 is an altogether better motorcycle.

  3. Bravo! Ottime modifiche soprattutto senza stravolgere la moto in se.

  4. Wow! Cool restoration/customization! The black/grey coloring and the graphics look very classy and high quality. As someone who’s been riding Yamaha XT550’s since 1989 over many thousands of miles – mostly dirt – I can tell you if you maintain (regular oil/filter changes and air filter cleanings – I recommend a K&N model 1874 filter (their typical paper/mesh filter that washes with their cleaning spray with a under the tap rinse-out and re-lubricated with their spray oil – very easy) this bike will run forever. Checking the oil is a little confusing with the level dropping on the dip-stick lower and lower as time goes by when it sits despite being at property capacity – read the instructions in the manual to check it. My impression is that Yamaha was very motivated to build a high quality bike to replace their very successful XT550 – I’ve read they over-built it with perhaps beefier metal thicknesses etc. But they are indestructible. I’ve beat the heck out of mine and they always run. Don’t let them sit without running for long and you won’t have to deal with the pain in the butt carburetor removal. I’ve dealt with the typical early generation CDI units going bad and a couple of slightly flimsy wire connections but those are relatively easy fixes. I also built a plate coming off the left side foot peg mount to shore up the shift- shaft just inside the splines for the foot lever shifter – as a careless, freak hard crash in the rocks hit that shaft and sheared it off at the case – which required a full splitting of the cases to replace. Anyway lol not to be morbid but the bike will outlive you. Happy trails… Russell

  5. Oops I meant the 550 replacing the very successful XT500. They’re nothing to rave about in any one category of performance but they are a lot of fun to ride with good broad over-all power and a low center of gravity.

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