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Desert Motorcycle Company’s ’81 Yamaha XS650 – “Golden Spike”


Posted on August 19th, by Andrew in Bobber, Classic. 27 comments

Yamaha’s XS650. It seems like there’s not a single style or genre that it can’t morph itself into. Chopper, bobber, rat, brat, cafe, tracker – hell, I’ve even seen it do a decent board tracker. It’s like some Japanese designers in the 1960s locked themselves in a room with a load of bad drugs, a Swiss Army Knife, a rubber mask from mission impossible, Optimus Prime, a doppelganger, the liquid metal robot from Terminator 2 and one of their mates who liked to wear his wife’s underwear on the weekends and exploded out three weeks later with blueprints that would transform the way the world thought of Japanese bikes and the way we think about a custom bike platform. Of course, this one is no different. It’s the retro brainchild of one Greg Hebard from Salt Lake City, Utah, and as you can see it looks about as close to the original bike as night looks like day.

“I’m Greg Hebard. Owner of Desert Motorcycle Company in Salt Lake City, Utah – and this is my bike, “Golden Spike.” It’s a 1981 XS650 with a stock engine and rejetted BS34 carbs.”

“The frame has a shaved stock front loop, with a custom (zero stretch) rear section by me. The rake is stock. The forks are from a CB750K and they have been shaved and lowered 2 inches.”

“For the chassis, I removed the upper engine mount tube and OEM neck gussets and replaced them with a custom upper engine mount and custom (smaller) neck gussets. I handbuilt the foot-controls, solo seat, handlebars, sissybar, battery box, etc… it’s all in the little things.”

“The wheel are miscellaneous 1970s CB pieces and the tires are Firestone squigglies at 4.00x19F/4.50x18R. I’ve only ridden it a handful of times so far, but I’d have to say that my favourite thing about the bike is the handlebars. I’m pretty proud of them.”

“For my next modification, I’m considering getting a few more parts nickel-plated. I was originally worried about it being too flashy, but I think it could use some more shiny bits.”

“This was my first successful seat upholstery job, but I think the king and queen I’m planning on my next bike might be too tricky for me to do…

I got my LeBlond lathe when the bike was about halfway completed, so I got a good chance to learn how to build some interesting parts, like the brass wheel tensioners and knurled brass foot pegs.”

”Josh Scott of Old School Helmets for painting my tins (he’s a rad dude). Steffan at Zombie Performance for selling me some mandrel bends so I could build my bars. A lot of the local guys here in SLC, for giving me some ideas and helping me out. And, of course, my parents.”

Update: Doofus me mistook Greg’s company name as a typo. It’s Deseret Motocycle Company, not Desert. Need proof? Why not visit his blog where you can see many more instances of good spelling. Unlike this one.





  • vachequipis

    Nothing new, like going back in time, but a nice example of it’s genre and a lot of spannering. The owner should be proud his labour.

  • talkingbird

    this rules. absolutely love the paint, and that he kept the stock wheelbase and rake. way rad bike, and for the first time i didn’t look at a bike and scoff at the firestones.

  • http://ridedualsport.com/ Manxman

    Everything works nicely with this bike including the Firestones.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

    Either I’m having a bad acid trip or this is a 70’s throwback. I just happen to be listening to The Little River Band as I look (what are the odds?) Do I like the style of the bike? Not one bit. Do I appreciate the effort? Absolutely. Reminds me of so many of the Jap-gone-chopper bikes of the past. I’d even ride it sans sissy and with different bars. All I can say is groovy.

    • http://ridedualsport.com/ Manxman

      Keep the sissy bar – it’ll keep your very thin girl friend from sliding off the fender.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

        Good point. Only problem is my wife gets all bent outta shape when I have a girlfriend. Women, sheesh.

        • GuitarSlinger

          Same goes for the wife there Tony ! ( we gotta maintain some standards you know ) I know that was a prerequisite when I was courting my wife !

          • vachequipis

            Jeeze you two, quit the love in it’s making me queezy! Please Pipeburn lets have a contentious bike to cool these boys down.

          • davmo

            Yeah, far too much harmony. Can’t we put something a little more divisive up?
            (you can’t win, Andrew and Scott. Even when we’re happy…we’re not happy.)

          • GuitarSlinger

            So …. you can’t please all the people all of the time . But you also can’t please anyone on the Pipeburn site ever . Hmmmmn . Kind of makes you wonder what makes us all tick …… don’t it !

          • davmo

            It is a twisted estate upon which we all reside.

          • GuitarSlinger

            Just for you vachequipis . Not wanting any ad nauseam on my account ;

            Tony Stark’s musical reference of the day . Ugh ! CSN I can understand . Joni Mitchell … two thumbs up . James Taylor I can tolerate . Jackson Brown …. if we must . But Little River Band ? Talk about the musical nauseam express …. MOR shlock pop being too kind a description .

            That relieve the nausea a bit there V?

            ( sorry TS , Had to be done )

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

            Ah, that’s cool. Some of us have good taste, and then some of us are you.

      • GuitarSlinger

        If’n she can’t hold on by herself …… she aint a worth keeping around ! ;-)

    • GuitarSlinger

      See Tony ! Here we are agreeing …… again ! Well not about the Little River Band ( eeesh ) but about the bike . Is the effort commendable ? Why yes it is . Is the design and execution kind of a pathetic pastiche of 70’s Chopper Kitsch ? Why yes it is as well . Not to mention its not even a good pastiche of 70’s Chopper kitsch . Kind of more an unoriginal blatant copy of almost every bad 70’s Chopper kitsch cliche one could of dug up …. stuck on a Yamaha ( which if you’d read the likes of ” Chopper Magazine ” and ” Choppers ” back in the day you know wasn’t original either as many a 70’s custom was built on Rice Burners )

      But ….. having said that …. the craftsmanship and quality of build do seem to be there . Not to mention the commendable effort

      But errrr…… that Little River Band thing there Tony . We gotta have us a long talk there mate :o) Maybe send you to the Phi Beta Zappa school of music appreciation …. or something ( LoL ) Now excuse me while I slap on some Dylan to get that sucrose taste of even thinking about the LRB out of my mind/mouth . Yuch !

    • http://ridedualsport.com/ Manxman

      The LRB is my favorite Aussie band. Maybe GS is really Ric Formosa and he’s mad at the rest of the band for not including him on their forthcoming tour. GS claims to have many international awards – Formosa also has many international awards for composing – hmmmm? GS, do you have a daughter named Antonella? and can you hum a few bars of “Broke Again”?

  • russelllowe

    Really nice proportions. The bars have great lines too.

  • Ugh

    Yeah, I like almost all of it – not so much the brass footpegs, though. C’mon, you ride more than that, surely?

    • Tron

      What, you need some rubber to protect your sensitive little feet?

      I run similar pegs on my daily xs..

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Stark/100003079960619 Tony Stark

        Yeah, only when riding barefoot.

  • solbrothers

    Great bike, Greg! When is it time for my CB450? :D

  • Robbie

    Great bike. Not usually a fan of sissy bars but this one suits well, I think the length of the rear fender gives it the right stance. I wish you could side mount number plates like that in Australia.

    • motomo

      Nice work, I really like the bike a lot. I absolutely love the paint though. Hmmm, I wonder why???

    • http://www.pipeburn.com Andrew@Pipeburn

      Likewise.

  • http://ridedualsport.com/ Manxman

    After a second look I like it even better. The pipes are a new twist on old school chopper exhausts.

  • cwellard

    well balanced throughout. this is how i like choppers to look, tight and tuff.
    beauty bike!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/abfossat Little Butch

    I love the sunburst effect in the paint. Beautiful blend between instrument, and ride.