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Yamaha SR500

Our bikes – 1978 Yamaha SR500

August 2020

Yamaha SR500

Cover up

by Guy 'Guido' Allen;

Two attempts. You wouldn’t think fitting a set of fork gaiters was that hard, would you?

Yamaha SR500


It was one of those weeks where you take one step forward and two back. The latest mission was to replace the missing fork gaiters on the mighty SR500 – the previous set had turned to dust a long time ago.

This is one of those non-critical jobs that’s way too easy to put off, and I reckon the bike’s been getting around without them for about a year. In part this is a cosmetic thing – it looks better with them in place. It’s also practical, as it protects the fork legs from stone damage and keeps incidental crap out of the seals.

Right, so let’s order a set. My usual practice when ordering for this or the T160 Triumph or the MkIII Commando is to get a pair intended for a seventies Norton Commando. They’re easier to find, the size is correct and, if you use the right supplier, the quality is good. So far so good.

The bits turn up and I get stuck in, dropping the front wheel and reefing the fork out of the triple trees. This isn’t the most convenient job in the planet, though there’s no great technical difficulty involved.

With bits of SR scattered about the place, I unwrap the gaiters and they’re several sizes too big. Bloody huge. What the hell? Then the penny drops. Without realising it, I’d ordered a set of gaiters for a current Norton Commando (and not the old one) – a motorcycle I’ve never owned. Bugger. I reassemble the bike.

Never mind, I put the new Norton bits away quietly thinking that with a bit of luck I’ll one day find a use for them…

Yamaha SR500

The next set duly arrives and off we go again. There are couple of tips for fitting them. First is ensure they have a vent hole, which you point to the rear, which allows them to expand and contract easily with the suspension.

Second, the section of the gaiter that stretches over the top of the fork slider feels like it won’t stretch to fit without breaking. What you do is soak them in a bit of hot water, which softens them enough to do the job. A few cable ties to hold them in place and we’re done.

Yamaha SR500

The last job was to replace the battery with something decent. SR500s will run without one (if you fit a battery eliminator), but they start easier and run their lights better with one on place. After having a cheap lead-acid unit collapse in record time, I’ve gone for an absorbed glass mat item. It’s a little more expensive, but experience says they last much better and they’re maintenance free.

Yamaha SR500

Something I liked about this unit was the way the connections were set up, with terminals on each corner and a selection of wiring mounts, so it could be fitted to almost anything that has the appropriate sized space. That’s smart thinking.

Okay, so we haven’t split the atom, but that’s hopefully the last time I’ll have to work on the SR, for a while at least. Now it’s time to get out and enjoy it.

Yamaha SR500

Ed's note: SR expert Stewart Ross advises you should order the OEM fork gaiters for SR400/500.


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