Honda XR500 Rescued to Create This Modern Scrambler


You’ve probably heard the old adage, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” In this instance, said trash was a very worse-for-wear 1981 Honda XR500 motorcycle, which wasn’t running, had no seat, looked in terrible shape, and was covered in spray paint. 

To most, it would seem a very unlikely candidate for a custom bike build, but to builder Max Droog, it was a sweet little treasure, and he knew just the application he could use it for—a ‘scrambler’ build.

Droog picked up the bike and after a thorough diagnosis got it running once again, only to find that it ran quite poorly. “It smoked like crazy,” admits Droog. He spared no time in ripping the engine apart and rebuilding it from top to bottom, adding a new Wiseco oversized piston and rings, new timing chain, clutch, and recutting the valve seats. Now it ran well… it just needed to look good too.


With a vendetta against its battered and bruised gas tank, Droog swapped it with a Honda CL350 unit and proceeded to strip it back to raw metal. He then dunked it in an acid bath to give it that aged, weathered look. Then came the bike’s fascia, his favorite part of the build.

“I wanted a single rounded headlight that was tucked in a plate-style setting,” says Droog. “I didn’t want it to be all solid, so I thought the mesh was a good touch. Then I riveted on the stainless sheet metal to give it a nice tucked-in feel.”

The front end was then updated with a Honda CR250 fork—also fully rebuilt—and now toting some aggressive Kenda Big Block wheels, a TrailTech Endurance II speedometer on top, custom sheet metal fender, and Biltwell grips. Out back, the rear subframe was chopped and a custom fabricated high-mount exhaust added.

Simple yet shouty, it’s a neat little barebones build and the third since Droog has started his own custom bike business (earlier this year he finished a sleek Honda scrambler/street-tracker hybrid). He says he’s already onto the next project but would like to find this Honda XR500 a nice, new home.

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