My Old Friend: Part 10 – An XT Reborn

Home > Projects > The Bikes > My Old Friend: The Rebirth of an XT > Part 10

I realize, as I write this, that this will be the last entry I write in this Project Journal.

Over the last couple weeks, I have watched what was once an old neglected motorcycle, transform into the bike it is today.

I have also, over the last couple weeks, kept you all updated with video updates here and there. So this last journal entry will be a combination of the video’s I have already posted, some pictures, and some other video’s I did not post.

So without any other delay, lets take a step back, 2 weeks ago, and begin.

The first thing that I knew I had to tackle, was to get the front of the bike finished. I needed to get the headlight mounted, and the dash built.

I originally, had an idea for the dash and the headlight mount, then after some time drawing it out, my father said to keep it simple, see what yah need, run with it, and then come back and build something later on. I took his advice, and decided to keep it simple. This would also cut down on the time it took me to make my mounts and brackets, as I wouldn’t need to run the rotary table, which I realized is a total pain in the ass to setup and operate. I really want to spend more time on it all. This was my first project that I attempted on the milling machine, and although it’s a simple piece, it was still fun.

So I start off with my stock of aluminum that I picked out from my dad’s supply in the shop, and cut it to the proper length.

Start with a nice chunk of aluminum

I next set it up on the Milling Machine to true the edges.

Mill Mill Mill!

Fast Forward after notching it for the ignition and drilling the holes for the mounts on the triple tree and building the side mounts for the headlight assembly.

Aluminum solves all problems

Now, somewhere during all of this, I thought it would be a good idea to instead of finishing 1 single thing, to instead lightly wire the bike, and try and start it. This would end up being a terrible idea.

For starters, originally I had told myself not to try and start it until done. I knew if something didn’t go right, I would then end up wasting time on an issue for large amounts of time.  But against my own better judgment, I started it up, as you can see in this clip.

Now, hear my voice discussing the concern over the carburetor? I will go into this at a later time… Lets just say, that sat in my mind the rest of these couple weeks, and I wasted a lot of hours over it.

At this point, now that the headlight mounting was in place, I jumped into the wiring of the bike.  This would end up taking much more time then I was expecting, and to be honest, I have a couple things I want to change out already after the fact, but that can wait for another time.

A rats nest of wire!

As you can see, it is a mess of wiring throughout the whole bike. It had been over a year since I had disassembled the wiring harness and started to clean it up and fix it up. So now that I had to dig back into it, and start soldering and adding new lines, it took a while to get going.

After some time though, I started to get everything traced out, and I was able to start spicing and building my connectors the way that I wanted to.

I must say, that the wiring on the XT, although is very minimal, it is still rather complex how they wired it.  I was actually surprised at the amount of actual splices they have in the wiring.  Or, even how they ran the switches, but more on that later.  Right now, you can enjoy this little clip!

More of a Rats Nest

I started off with the indicator lights. This was the easiest of all wires to start with. I needed to wire in the lights for the Turn Signal, High Beam, and Neutral.  On the original XT Dash, the Indicator is a single light, and the new Dash has 4 lights, so my plan was to use the last light for some future project if I wanted to.  This promptly changed after I had spliced in the wires.

Instead of splicing directly to the original wiring, I decided to splice the new connector into the old connector.  This way it all plugged in together, a more manageable approach in my opinion. Before the final soldering, I twisted the wires together. This would end up being a very good idea.  I found out a rather interesting fact about how the XT was wired.

A completed Wire Harness for the Indicator Lights

The Indicator lights, switched power from each lead, so while one lead acted as a ground with one direction of the indicator, it acted as the positive with the other direction.  This meant, that the shared ground setup of the of new Dash System was not going to work for those lights. So, with this knowledge, I decided to utilize that 4th light for an indicator light. So now the XT has a right and left indicator light on the dash. I know, sounds really exciting right?

During this whole process, I found out that the neutral light was actually a switched ground, and not a switched positive, so I had to split the high beam’s ground of separately from the neutral as well.

With the Dash Lights out of the way, I moved on to working on the headlight. This was rather straight forward, but one of those area’s I want to revisit down the road and redo.  The main thing I want to change is how it all hooks up. I don’t like how it all hooks up.

One Eyed, One Horned, Flying Purple People Eater? Naaaaaaaah

It took me awhile after I got it all hooked up to realize that the lights have their own leads, but Acerbis includes its own separate connectors to splice on to them to use in a connector. I’m going to redo this whole thing so that the lights plug into a separate connector that then plugs into the main system.

With it all now hooked up, It was time to move on to the last part of wiring… Making sure the whole electrical system worked. From the indicator lights, to the headlights and starter.

This was a rather simple process. It just required me to hook up all the lights, and go outside and start her up and run it.  So that’s what I did, which brings us to another video!

I did have to make some sacrifices. For one, I was unable to find 90 Degree Connectors in town, so I did not end up mounting the mini fuse block. Instead, I bought 3 inline fuses and added those to the system. Oddly, after I got it all wired in, I found a whole box of 90 degree connectors in my toolbox.  Go figure, I bought them last year.

Also, although this reads as if it’s a smooth transisition that happened over the course of a couple days, it in fact was a nightmare over the course of almost a week and a half.

Remember up at the top when I talked about the whole starting of the bike? Yes, that is what would end up killing me.  I could not get the carb off my mind. I would start working on one thing, then drop it and pull the carb, adjust the float bowl, put it in, warm it up, rev it up, see if it made any change.  Even though I measured everything, it just didn’t run right.  I did this multiple times, having to wait for the bike to cool before yanking the carb out, and starting over. This went on for days.

I’ve rebuilt multiple carbs in my life. I’ve tuned multiple carbs as well, but yet this one was getting the best of me. I had finally met my match.

Here’s a video I took while still doing the wiring, installing the TrailTech Vapor.

Notice something missing? Yup, the carb. I think Soldering those wires, and installing the Tach on the TrailTech took me a day. Just cause I kept wanting to mess with that damed carb.

I could post more video’s, but it would be pointless, I’m pretty sure you get the picture, and if you really want to hear me suck at narrating more, you can just check out my YouTube Videos.

A Mukuni BST34 Carb. What an amazing feat of crap engineering.

So now with all that out of the way, the wiring, the lighting, I then finally had time to concentrate on the carb and look into why it really wasn’t working.

So, I did what I should have done right from the start. I pulled it apart.

Now, folks. This is why you wait to do things when you have time to dedicate to it. It is also why I knew not to try and start the bike sooner, as it would just complicate things down the road. I am too impatient of a person sometimes.

You see, once the carb was in pieces, and I had time to inspect everything. I realized something. You see that large gray piece on the left hand side of the picture? That allows the slide with the needle to slide up and down (Guide) and holds the needle jet.  What’s important about that piece, is that it can be installed backwards.

Yes, that’s what I just said, it can be installed backwards, and you’ll never guess who installed it backwards. I must say, it is one of the grander mistakes I have made in my life.  There is a small hole (slightly visable in the picture) that needs to be lined up with such a hole on the carb.  And of course, I corrected this mistake, and well, the rest is history.

So it was with this great realization, that I would put everything together, and set out the next day.  I decided to make a short loop around the area, and documented it with the following video.

I had a lot of fun, and it was a great shake down ride. The next day, I replaced several of the bolts on the bike with new stainless bolts, as well started the process of painting.  With this, I decided I may as well change the oil, and as well, while changing the oil, I may as well put the kickstart kit in.

It was with this, that the last of the mechanical bits had been worked on for the bike. She now ran smoothly, she operated perfectly, and she now had alternative modes of starting.

The last thing on my list of work, was the rear rack and some other bits I wanted to make out of tubing.  I had planned on heading in to town at that point to pick up a new tubing bender, as the one I have is not really great for making small bends like I need to.  I was disappointed after driving 80 miles to Harbor Freight, that the one they said they had in stock, they did not. They had a display unit, missing a bunch of pieces.  So it was a wasted trip.

But not all was lost. I came home, I installed the plastics that were painted the day before, and left to cure.  And I went out for a ride.  I had to cut it short, due to the snow storm that was moving in, but with that, well, here you go.

Home > Projects > The Bikes > My Old Friend: The Rebirth of an XT > Part 10


  1. George R.
    December 30, 2009 at 9:42 AM — Reply

    The last photo, bottom right, provides a perfect ending to the story of your restoration project. Great job Mic. Hope the bike serves you the next 50,000+ miles as well as it did the last!

  2. Reggie
    December 30, 2009 at 10:34 AM — Reply

    Well done in both the work itself and the write ups. You can be proud of the Rascal!

  3. holypiston
    December 30, 2009 at 1:26 PM — Reply

    I’m glad you sorted the wiring and not me!
    Way to stick w/it. Looks like a fun ride.

    didn’t realize the wiring was so complicated on such a small bike.

    I’d love to have a vapor on my RD. How accurate is the rpm’s with the single coil?

  4. December 30, 2009 at 4:06 PM — Reply

    Well done Mic!!! You may be the only other XT owner out there with a “one-eyed giant purple people eater” other than myself, and the Vapor is just a great way to update that beastie…once I clean up my wiring I’ll snap some pics of how I mounted both the Cyclops and Vapor, might help spawn ‘future’ mounting ideas…..



    • December 31, 2009 at 11:00 AM — Reply


      As soon as things start to Thaw, I am going to be heading over to Leavenworth to see one of our Site Sponsors on PNW Riders. She owns the Timberline Motel over there. We should plan on meeting up then.

  5. Kerry
    December 30, 2009 at 10:02 PM — Reply

    Good for you for restoring your childhood bike. I wish I still had the bike I grew up with a lot of good memories.

  6. […] My Old Friend: Part 10 – An XT Reborn […]

  7. […] My Old Friend: Part 10 – An XT Reborn […]

  8. March 19, 2010 at 3:27 PM — Reply

    Good show, Mic! It’s great to see what you have done. Remarkable in multiple ways. 54k on the odometer for starters. You averaged a lot of miles per year, and you barely did any engine work in your complete rebuild!

    I’m cross posting your blog on the Yahoo XT225 group. (But your spam settings won’t let me share a link – shrug.)


    • March 19, 2010 at 7:03 PM — Reply

      That’s Odd about the url. Feel free to email it to me

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