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Holiday Customs XS650


Posted on December 16, 2010 by Scott in Bobber. 32 comments

This year has been no vacation for Jared Johnson at Holiday Customs. “We built some 13 bikes this year and didn’t have time to build for myself” says Jared. After finding a rusty old 1976 Yamaha XS650 in Portland for $400, Jared knew exactly what he wanted to create. “I had been thinking of how I wanted this thing to look. I really like the lines on Schwinn cruiser bicycles, flowing with curves.” The bike sat in his shop for a few months until he was ready to fully immerse himself in the project. “I made everything on the bike except for the seat. The frame alone took a week. I rolled the tube metal, welded it up, then put the tires on and realized it wasn’t low enough, so I cut off the tail and started over.” After the frame was complete, the idea for the curved pipes that follow the lines of the frame came to him. “The pipes took 4 long days, rolling the tube, notching out for the rear axle bolt, walking around looking at it for hours” he says.

The other features include an old Hap Jones tank which he found online with “some awesome rust on it”. He also made the fork covers out of exhaust tube, the front wheel came off a SL175 and the beautiful seat was upholstered by the very talented Ginger at New Church Moto.

Not only have they been busy building motorcycles but Holiday Customs have a new blog up and running. Judging by their blog, it looks like this XS650 has been getting some well-deserved attention, recently being featured in a Nike shoot – maybe their new slogan should be ‘Just build it’.

[Photos by Neil DaCosta]








  • Quick

    It's official, Jared Johnson is moving up in the world!!!

  • Those crossed pipes are fantastic! That swoop looks like it was commissioned by Nike.

  • Paddy

    Yes, the pipes are a triumph. The bike is sweet-looking but completely unrideable. Don't mean to carp on the subject but why can't these rolling artworks be made to function safely and relatively comfortably?

    THAT'S where the REAL ingenuity lies!

  • Steve

    Hmmm. Lots of folks ride hardtails (esecially lately) with (or without) front brakes. Maybe not something you or I would tour around on, but I wouldn't say "completely unrideable". I'm guessing Mr. Johnson will be riding it.
    I def. love the curvey frame and pipes.

  • It's a cool bike and it's definitely different. I personally don't know how good I'd feel about riding around all day with no front brake, but I imagine it's purpose is more of a bar hopper than a cruiser, so I imagine it won't be too big a problem……I saw a Honda of his for sale on CL, and it too had no front brake, and apparently didn't have any problem selling. Love seeing another Portland bike on Pipeburn.

  • +1 to the crossed pipes idea. -1 to the rain collector pipe ends idea

  • glover

    Love it!! I think it's one of the most visually interesting XS's I've seen in a long time. Love the curved frame and pipes. Great work!

  • Jared Johnson

    Thanks for the reply's. Just want to clear some things up….. I ride this bike just about everyday, It has front brakes, the pipes are not triumph ,and rain cant get in the pipes cause the bike will be in the garage.

  • Chris

    @Paddy: By the way…those tires are goosy to ride as well, when it comes to highspeed, rain and takin' curves. They look nice on bikes, but the most customs weren't good to ride anyway…that's not their profession, they have to look good.

  • Paddy

    Jared, don't get me wrong. It's a beauty! I meant the pipes are a triumph of design and construction. As for the front brakes, I guess they're "antilock" types. You must be blessed with very smooth roads to ride that everywhere! I would ride it straight to my chiropractor whence she would insist I take her for a ride straight to the bank. My bank!

    If you can create this you can solve the suspension issue Jared. Your market would then be huge. Old guys like me would be throwing money at you!

  • Twostoked

    Lovin those pipes.

  • Mogg

    Awesome, super nice! Function, form… blaa blaa. I'd much rather have something i love the look of, enjoy riding over something that only performs. I love it! Also is that a firestone front, same as rear just skinnier?

  • Andrew

    I keep on imagining myself starting it up after heavy rain and seeing it spurt two big columns of rain water out of the exhaust pipes…

    Maybe Jared could add two of those little hinged flaps onto them like trucks have?

  • That rear 3/4 shot makes me think of the Philippe Starck Moto 6.5 Aprilia. Nice lines.

  • Awesome bike, and great that its a bike that can be ridden and not just for display, I can see the front brakes (looks like small drums to me) so not sure why people are saying it hasnt got any, those pipes are nuts though, they look really cool but does it run ok like that?

  • I don't see a front brake cable……very nice job of hiding it. It just jumped up a few levels in my book. Hope to see it on the streets some day.

  • Bobbers are nothing new and frankly I find bobbers to be boring… until now. This is by far the best looking bobber style bike I have ever seen. This bobber raises the bar for builders everywhere. The originality is exceptional and those crossed pipes– how do I get my hands on a set of crossed pipes for my next XS650 build? Please, somebody tell me.

  • Paddy

    Speak to Jared. He could sell thousands of them. I'd buy a set for mine any day.

  • kik

    cut the pipes at the rear axle and ill like it even more….

  • Septic the Sceptic

    Recycle Bill, you find bobber boring because you have no idea of what a "bobber" is. This is a fantastic bike, but it's not a bobber.

  • Septic the Sceptic.

    I was riding bobbers over 35 years ago. We used to shorten the rear fenders on old panheads and knuckles by taking them apart at the hinge. Then strip everything off that we could take off and ride like hell. Those were bobbers.

    Then we extended the front end, axed (cut and raked) the frame and called the same bike a chopper. They were pretty to look at, went great in a straight line, didn't corner worth… and killed us after just 100 miles of riding but because we were young bucks like you who thought we knew it all we acted like all was fine.

    Sometimes we built bobbers from 650 Triumphs and BSAs but rode them very little because Lucas electrics were crap back then

    Then, when we got really drunk and stoned we sawed off the frame forcing us to buy a weld on hardtail when we sobered up. And if I had all those old pogo stick Harley seats I threw away back then I could retire today, Junior.

    And it went downhill from there.

    Bobbers and choppers have been around since the 1940s and I've been riding them since the 1970s so I have a pretty good idea of what a bobber is. This is a bobber styled bike but because it's been converted to a hardtail some might call it a chopper. Bobber or chopper, either will fit. It's not a dresser, a sport bike, a standard, a salt flat racer, a sport touring bike, a cafe racer, a dragster, a touring bike, a pocket rocket, a mini chopper or a moped so it must be either a custom chopper or a custom bobber. And when you've been building and riding bobbers and choppers for 35 plus years you'll find most bobbers and choppers to be just as boring as I do.

    Like they say, "There's nothing new under the sun." And while I have no interest in riding any rigid frame bike with what looks to be about 1 and 1/2 inches of padding I do still think this bike is a work of art.

    Now come back in 35 plus years and tell me what kind of motorcycle this is if it's not a bobber styled bike.

    Kids these days… 😉

  • Septic the Sceptic

    So you "bobbed" a bike to make it lighter, faster and handle better? Maybe a part got a little bent after too much wine, so you yanked it off and didn't bother repairing it or buying a new one cos the bike worked just as well without it? Yep that's a bobber. This one ain't. It may be a little lighter, but the rigid rear won't make it faster or better handling. A bike does not have to fit the OCC/interweb paradigm to be a chopper.

  • I've heard of the OCC/interweb paradigm but because I don't bore myself with television I wouldn't know what it might be. Were it not for the snow on the ground I'd be riding today but I'll be riding before the week is out as the snow never stays long in this part of North Carolina.

    As to bobbers handling better… Better than what? Bobbers handle better than choppers with extended front ends but that's about it. Remember Junior, the first bobbers were built on old pans, knuckles and Indians which came from the factory with ridged frames and springers. This bike emulates those first ever bobbers.

    "A bike does not have to fit the OCC/interweb paradigm to be a chopper."

    You seem very good at telling us what this bike is but again, "Now come back in 35 plus years and tell me what kind of motorcycle this is if it's not a bobber styled bike."

  • Septic the Sceptic

    Read what I wrote. The 'bobbed' version of a bike handled better that the standard version of that bike by virtue of the fact it was marginally lighter and/or may have had more ground clearance by having slightly longer forks and 18 inch wheels instead of the OEM 16's.
    Does this bike fit that? No, it doesn't. It's a chopper. Not a gaudy billet barge easter egg style chopper that cable TV bikers like, but it's a chopper none the less.

  • Septic the Sceptic ,
    Okay, so we finally agree this bike is an excellent example of a bobber styled chopper.

    Choppers are nothing new and frankly I find choppers to be boring… until now. This is by far the best looking bobber styled chopper bike I have ever seen. This bobber styled chopper raises the bar for builders everywhere. The originality is exceptional and those crossed pipes– how do I get my hands on a set of crossed pipes for my next XS650 build? Please, somebody tell me.

    And, Junior, just so you know the first bobbers were the old style hill climbing Indians, HDs, Triumphs, BSAs, Royal Enfields etc, etc, etc that bikers with more balls than you or me used to ride up impossible to climb hills.

  • cins79

    simply lovely

  • Jared Johnson

    Here is a video of the bike running http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgfPFdCN4KA

  • Jared, Sounds great! My guess is the crossed pipes actually make more low end torque than uncrossed– how do I get a set of crossed pipes that will clear a set of saddlebags?

  • Brain Damaged

    that is one sweet ride. nice work Jared.

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