Last September a friend’s father contacted me about a commissioned build. He had a 1983 Yamaha XS 650 Special that a previous owner had already modified quite a bit. It needed a little mechanical work, so it hit the Retrowrench side of the shared space first. Chad Francis got the basics working properly. Then I met with the client and he informed me he only had a minimal budget. He just wanted to freshen the bike up and have it repainted with the Gulf color scheme, the number 64 (which his son races under) and the JC3 emblem, which is in memory of his daughter. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.
Karma, the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence viewed as deciding their fate in future existences, is an idea that is shared to varying degrees across many of the world’s religions, philosophies and the basics we teach our children. Do good in the world and eventually the seeds you sow will bear fruit for all to enjoy, you included. The owner of this custom creation is a man who lives by that very philosophy and sold his motorcycle so that he could pay for disadvantaged children to go to school and have a brighter future. But it appears his Karma was nearly as instant as John Lennon describes, for his friend is none other than Bandung, Indonesia’s Ram Ram Januar from White Collar Bikes. Who decided his friend’s good deeds deserved a tasty reward and the Indonesian bike building wizard has created this delicious piece of fruit, a Yamaha XS650 powered custom known as “Mishka”.
If you happen to be lucky enough to own multi motorcycles and ride everyday then the chances are you have a more “sensible” bike, maybe even a stock modern machine, to get you around on weekdays. But when you run a custom bike shop even your everyday ride is going to be something different, you might use it for the commute to work or the lunch time dash to the bakery, but it’s still going to be something a little special. For Tommy Rand, Co-Founder of Relic Motorcycles from Aarhus, Denmark, he wanted his own daily machine to be something timeless, a bike that would survive every fad and trend and still be able to ride it in his old age. With a love for the bikes and everything that was motorcycling in the 1970’s and Relic describing themselves as “experienced bike-builders who favour and restore Japanese bikes from the 70’s & 80’s,” a classic cafe racer based on a 1980 Yamaha XS650 made perfect sense.
In the space of less than a year in the late 1960s two Japanese heavyweights released motorcycles that would go on to be hugely popular in the modern custom bike scene. First Yamaha with its XS650 and then Honda with the CB750; while the Honda is considered the first Superbike and was designed to seek and destroy its British rivals, the Yamaha was based on classic styling and an engine as Brit as Big Ben. Whereas the evolution of the CB range has progressed to the most modern of motorcycles, the XS650 remained true to its classic styling for its entire production run. One man who truly understands classic design and builds a mean Yamaha is Christian Condo of Melbourne’s Modern Motor Cycle Company and this 1981 XS650 Heritage Special is his latest masterpiece.
When the Yamaha engineers put pencil to paper and created the XS650 with its classic looking parallel twin they could never have imagined that so many decades later it would continue to be a cult classic. But when Heath Reed owner of River Rat Cycle Fab from Davenport Iowa was commissioned to build this 1977 example he didn’t want to simply run with the pack and do the standard modifications. Instead the brilliant fabricator spent hours in deep thought working out how he could create more than just another XS650 tracker. In the end he came up with a hybrid; a tracker with a touch of café racer, street fighter styling cues and a little inspiration from the greatest guitar ever made! With the design finalised Heath set about giving the ’77 XS a second birth that when finished would be known as “The Rattler”.
There are a lot of memes floating around the internet about Mum’s basements and not a single one of them kind. Often the domain of keyboard warriors and 40-year-old virgins, finally we’ve made a basement discovery from those dark depths that’s worth paying attention to. The fine lads from KickMoto in Halifax, Nova Scotia had a customer who was after a clean Yamaha XS650. As fate would have it, a friend of the workshop just so happened to have a stash of XS650’s stored in his mother’s downstairs you-know-what.
Dust off the drafting table, refill the clutch pencil and grab the dividers. Retired Dutch Architect Henk Woltjer has teamed up with local shop Motogadgets to create the perfect motorcycle to relive his youth; it’s a millimetre-exact Yamaha XS650 tracker inspired by the first bike he built some thirty years earlier.
Words by Ian Lee.
If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. Whether a Pipeburn post, or project bike, there is nothing like the rush of racing that deadline for completion. Just ask Jared Johnson of Holiday Customs. The bike featured here today had the final touches put on it at 10pm on the night before The One Motorcycle Show. Utilising a UJM for his entry into the legendary Portland bike show, Jared gave the 1975 XS650 the Schwinn styled frame that the Holiday workshop is famous for.
If you’ve got any lingering doubts about the 21st Century custom motorcycle scene not being a truly global affair, then prepare to have them squashed like the model buildings in a Godzilla movie. This, the 4th Maccomotors bike to feature on Pipeburn, is the product of no less than four different countries; namely Spain, Mexico, the UK and Japan. And although you might assume that such an international affair might end up looking like a poster child for design-by-committee, we’re here to tell you it’s turned out quite the opposite. Say ‘hola’ to ‘The Mexican’.
Hill Hudson is a talented young illustrator studying at the Pacific Northwest College Of Art in Portland, Oregon. This year he had to complete his senior thesis, which usually involves doing an illustration. But Hill wanted to do something a little different and build a motorcycle. “I guess I’m the first to ever do this in the history of the 100 plus years the school as been running” he says. “This thesis will be documented and stored in the library here in Portland and will go down as the first art school breakdown and construction of a motorcycle in a gallery setting at this school”. Hill’s project started by searching for a suitable low cost donor. He eventually found a 1977 XS650 that was the perfect ‘blank canvas’ for his art project and got to work.
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