The life of `XT 500` [2007/03]

My early recollections of life are quite vague.Pieces of, steel, aluminium, plastic, cable etc being formed into shapes.Then I clearly remember being on a conveyor system, fast hands working on me with air driven spanners whining away, hoists lifting parts towards me until in quite a short time I was rolled off the production line and my life commenced. I was XT 500!Very quickly my handlebars were removed, my rear suspension uncoupled and I then found myself packed snugly inside a packing crate and being lifted high into the air in a warehouse alongside the Yamaha factory in Japan.There I was, looking around at my friends, they, also packed tightly just like me and wondering what lay ahead for each of us.Several days later I felt myself being moved into a large container, moved onto a ship and setting sail for some far off shore. It was cold and dismal on that ship and I was so relieved when the rocking stopped and I was moved ashore and loaded onto a lorry.Arriving at Mitsui Machinery Sales Company Ltd in Chessington, Surrey was a pleasant relief from all the traveling that I had experienced and I now found myself in a nice warm warehouse surrounded by my dear friends. I was quite happy at first, but soon became bored as the weeks passed by. What was going to become of me? My thoughts were soon answered, when one day a fork lift truck lifted me gently outside and lowered me onto a flat bed trailer, two other XT’s joined me and I was so relieved not to be alone.


XT 500 in full swingThen to my shear delight little TY80 was leant up against me and tied on firmly.I heard the name Gerry Gooch being mentioned and gathered that he was to be my owner.After only a short journey I found myself being slid and lifted from the trailer and moved into a rather nice brick built garage. The family, Sheila, Jeffrey and Andrea, who I was later to become very close to, gathered around as my crate was opened and there I stood together with my fellow XT’s and TY80 in my first home.The following day I felt petrol being poured into my tank, how good that felt I can tell you and I became so excited as I new that now I was finally going to be really brought to life.Gerry sat astride me and gave me three long kicks. I responded by bursting in to life with a deep booming sound echoing around the garage. This was what I had been created for and how happy I was to be alive.The other two machines were similarly treated and there we stood together with TY80 all wondering what was now to become of us as our rear number plates, lights, speedometers, mirrors, tool boxes etc had all been removed.We need not have worried, for we soon found out that we were to form the Gerry Gooch Motorcycle Display Team.Ouch, how it hurt as Gerry welded additional footrests on my down tube right up against my petrol tank and clamped other bits and pieces elsewhere to me. We were introduced to the other riders in the Team and some serious practicing began.My first show was most enjoyable, jumping as far as I could manage in the small arena and doing all that was asked of me, although I can tell you that I was not at all happy when Gerry attached a ladder to me, climbed to the top and left me to negotiate my way around the arena.12 years of absolute pleasure followed, shows all over the country were visited with my friends and I being transported by trailer. The country roads were quite enjoyable, swaying from side to side, but how I hated all those boring motorway miles.

A Naked XT500The winter months were also most unhappy with the four of us standing side by side in the garage for month after month.But then the most dreadful thing possible happened. My two XT friends and little TY80 were wheeled out of the garage and taken away leaving me alone and most unhappy.Year after year passed and twice I picked up heart as I was moved by furniture van to a new home. But still no attempt was ever made to run my engine and I became more and more depressed as rust started to form inside my petrol tank and I despaired that I would ever see life again.Then one day without warning Gerry wheeled me out into the centre of his garage and lifted me onto a little square box. The following day my front wheel was removed, a new tyre and brake linings fitted and my rims polished up just like they used to be. Then nothing for several months. A little more was done and again nothing for months.

Complete againI began to despair if I would ever see life again, how miserable I felt, really believing that I would finish up on some scrap heap very soon.My worst fears seemed to be coming true when one day I was unceremoniously put into an old van together with all my other parts that were by this time spread around the garage and I was driven a short distance and unloaded into a quite untidy cold dark garage owned by Steve Restall, where much to my surprise I met new friends, Laverda, Two BSA’s, a Kawasaki and two BMW’s.I need not have been worried, for I was in good hands and very quickly completely dismantled and my frame re-painted with epoxy black and the rest of me stove enameled until I looked and felt better than new.My lights were fitted and a battery installed and Steve even gave me a new petrol tank, mudguards, side panels, chain and sprockets. Steve then started me up, after some 17 years standing idle in various garages and you can image how I felt.The following day Steve wheeled me outside and rode me down the road to the MOT inspecting station.

I was so nervous that I almost could not start, but much to my relief the examiner was more than impressed with me and gave several very rewarding remarks about my finish. I glowed with pride as the MOT certificate was made out.Now all that remained was to get my very first registration number. A couple of days later I was so relieved to see Gerry once again and he sat astride me just like old times and rode me back to my previous warm garage with nice painted floor and bright white walls. The next day we set of to the DVLA in Portsmouth regardless of the fact that I had no number on my new number plate all fitted on the rear of the bike. I was duly allocated NPO  894R, my very first registration number. And how good it felt, I zoomed home with Gerry astride and marveled at my good fortune of meeting Steve who had so lovingly brought me back to life. I know that Gerry will now look after me until such time that he is no longer around at which time how nice it would be to returned to the care of Steve to whom I will forever be indebted. 

This story is dedicated to Steve Restall.

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