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.
Written by the builder, Dustin Kott from Kott Motorcycles.
Years ago I rode a 1972 XS650, also known as the XS2 from Los Angeles, California to Sturgis, South Dakota. I was wearing a cheap rain suit from Walmart in the pouring rain going at least 100 MPH to dodge the inclement weather. When I stopped at a gas station some locals took one look at me and said “you were going so fast that your damn clothes are tearing off! You passed us like we were standing still!” These are my memories of the infamous XS650 made famous by the legendary Kenny Roberts
Written by Ian Lee.
Some bike builders are like magicians. They take particular props, put them together and ‘hey presto’, produce something you didn’t think was possible. A mixture of new and old componentry on a bike build is an example of this. If you lean too far one way, or the other, you can ruin the concept of a build. Or at the very least, while trying to put a new image on an bygone concept, you have the motorcycle equivalent of David Hasselhoff. Roberto Totti and the team at Hook Motors have what it takes to mix new with old, and with over thirty years of experience in Robert alone, you can see the professionalism put into their builds. The Yabsa is one such bike, with a few different motorcycles, from a few different eras donating componentry, and the end result is magic.
For many of us, families are like French truffles. They cost you all your cash, they are hard to find when you need them, and they are a very acquired taste. But for a lucky few, they turn out to be friends, inspiration, and trustworthy business partners all in one. The kind of relationship most bike builders who find themselves going it alone could only dream about. But for Danny and Lance Busch of Busch & Busch in Reno, Nevada, it’s an everyday reality. Since dreaming up the idea of a custom shop in High School and even printing t-shirts for it in art class, they’ve progressed to, well, to what you see here. Because what I see here is one of my all-time favourite XS’s. And that’s no Busch.