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XT550 too tall?

This is a discussion on XT550 too tall? within the Dual Purpose forums, part of the Types of Bikes category; I've been looking for a project bike for a while and I found one, the price was right, the repairs ...


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Old 02-05-2006   #1
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Default XT550 too tall?

I've been looking for a project bike for a while and I found one, the price was right, the repairs needed were in my skillset (pretty vast) and budget (pretty slim).
It was a 1983 Yamaha XT550, according to the ad, both tires were flat, needed a decent amount of TLC, but it ran. After getting photos, I checked it out in person, tried it on for size, made sure it ran and was free of those little defects that are likely to kill me -- bent frame and such. Then took it home.
Well, I've done enough TLC to take it for a quick ride last night, when I discovered that it's really tall.
I can probably find a replacement rear shock to take the extra couple of inches I need out -- I haven't figured out if the preload can be adjusted enough to suit my short legs, but I don't think so. An inch, maybe, 3-4 inches is asking alot.
But if I replace the shock, I loose suspension travel and possibly get a really stiff ride.
Likewise, I can probably replace the front fork legs, but I end up with the same problem.
I might try relocating the shock mount. Thing is when I started welding, I decided I wouldn't weld anything that if I don't do a good enough job, will kill me. At least nothing that I would be surprised to find out, bad exhaust work will kill me, but I should know about it long before it does. That was about two years ago. I'm confident in my skill, but not that confident to weld a shock mount. And I still lose suspension travel.
So I'm thinking perhaps swapping wheels is the better route.
Does anyone know of a wheel interchange guide anywhere online?
Can I locate a rim size I'm looking for and have the existing hubs put on the rims?
Is there another route I'm not thinking of that you'd recommend?

Thanks.
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Old 02-06-2006   #2
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Default XT550 too tall?

Ah nuts. Well, it needs new handlebars, I'll put those on this weekend, try riding it through some trails and see if I can deal with it, I guess I could always screw some extensions on the soles of my boots...
Well, I guess considering that so far I've put a whole $7 over the purchase price into it, I won't be too disappointed if I sell it for a profit and try to buy something that fits me.
I'll admit that it's been fun so far, normally I get a "oh dear, what the hell did I get my sorry ass into, I can't do this..." (sanitized to comply with FCC regulations in the unlikely event this is broadcast) stage, and that didn't happen yet. I almost always get through that stage, but it didn't happen, maybe it's Murphy's law, when little thing goes right, something big will go wrong in the end.
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Old 02-06-2006   #3
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Default XT550 too tall?

:) Well good luck on it and I hope it works out for you, if you decide to relocate the rear shock please post some pics of your fab work. I would be interested in seeing them.

But ya, a 550 is a big bike for a lot of people.
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Old 02-07-2006   #4
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Default XT550 too tall?

You ain't kiddin'. I'm a little over 6' and strained myself more than once on my XT. Don't even ask about the failed kick start attempts - OUCH!

Would it be possible to put some sort of limiting strap on the back suspension like the snowmobiles use. Since you need new handlebars anyway consider a riser extension with offset. Then you could drop your forks thru the triples a little bit. Just remember you're putting the front tire that much closer to teh fender (OTB club!)

Good luck,
Dolllar Bill
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Old 02-08-2006   #5
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Default XT550 too tall?

You don't need to shorten the front forks, you can loosen the tubes and let them drop down and retighten. I've done it with a XT600 which I imagine is the same setup.
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Old 02-09-2006   #6
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Default XT550 too tall?

can you take the seat apart, trim the foam about 3 inches and then put the seat back together?
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Old 02-09-2006   #7
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Default XT550 too tall?

Check and see if you can find a subframe lowering kit for it.
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Old 02-10-2006   #8
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Default XT550 too tall?

I didn't know there was such a thing as a sub frame lowering kit. I'll check into that.
can you take the seat apart, trim the foam about 3 inches and then put the seat back together?Yes, that's the cheap way out, an electric carving knife and a bit of patience. The problem is it's a one-way trip and if I find that the seat is too hard, that would mean buying a new seat or carving new foam.

Failed kick-starts? Well, no bone-shattering has occurred yet, BUT, I forgot to turn the gas on last weekend to load it up on the trailer (tilt-bed, easiest to ride it up the incline), well after about two kicks, I break a sweat. And since it wouldn't start, there's no point in taking it to the trails. So I spent 10 friggin' minutes kicking that thing over before I realized I'm an idiot. In my own defense, my other bike has a vacuum petcock. I've gotten a little too used to that nice little feature.

Progress so far: I've taken it out on the trails twice, I can live with it, perhaps, or it might kill me too. I had an incident where I needed to stop quick on a slope, I pulled in the clutch and brake hard, my right foot still on the foot pedal, I put my left foot down, down, down, hey! where's the ground? Then jumped off mid-fall, picked myself up and killed the still running drive-wheel engaged engine.

I'll give the fork-dropping a try, but I don't think I'll stick with it. But I'll try it, cause hey, it's free. I installed a street-style front fender, (mounted on the lower shocks) so this will probably go quickly back to stock. The fender wasn't very expensive, but there's not a lot of clearance to begin with.

Seems like it's doable with the YZ250f http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/arc.../t-442158.html

Did the XT550 share the same swing-arm with any other bikes? Since it was only around for two years, I think I might be better off looking for one under several model names. Or am I misunderstanding how a lowering kit works?

Might also get brave and find a salvage swing arm and start hacking and welding.

Relocating the shock mounts is probably possible, but I can't see it changing things by more than half an inch, which is a lot of work.

Chopping up the seat is very appealing.
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Old 02-10-2006   #9
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Default XT550 too tall?

I deal a lot with dual sport bikes. They are too tall for a lot of people, so we have obtained 2-3 inches by shaving seat foam. Since you will end up with less cush for the tush, I recommend getting the best firm foam you can get from your auto/ bike upholsterer. Good luck.
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