1981 Yamaha XS650

This is my first and only motorcycle so far. I got this bike in boxes with only 6,700 miles on the odometer, then took it to work and started to make it my own. I envisioned a cafe style bike with a rear wheel that looked like it was all alone out back. I cut the seat and support tubes off the frame and bent all new tubing for those areas to make it a single seater. Then I was given a Honda 954 rear mono shock from my buddy who got me into this bike. He said “make it work.” So I mounted it on the swing arm and under the seat to the frame, but it had too much leverage against it so it was too soft. I had to make similar shock mounts and a lever like street bikes have. So I made my own triangle out of steel plates and played with the ratios until it was firm but forgiving. The rear wheel was still visually too close to the rest of the bike, so I cut the swing arm and stretched it 1.5 inches using heavy wall DOM tubing to sleeve and weld it back together. I decided to build my own “clip-on” handle bars from scratch to ensure they would fit and have less of a downward angle than others I was seeing available. The front forks were taken apart and lowered 2.5 inches and then made stiffer than stock. To build the exhaust, I ordered some 1.5inch 304 stainless U-bends and straight pipe, then carefully cut and fit the sections on each side until symmetrical, then TIG welded the pieces together. At this point I had some help laying a fiberglass seat pan to fit the customized frame perfectly. I glued the foam to the pan and ground the shape in, then drew out diamond pleats on black Scottish leather. The pleats were sewn in the leather, and that sewn to a perimeter piece by a talented friend, then the cover was glued to the fiberglass pan. The engine was then gone through and painted and then had all new gaskets and hardware installed. All the pieces were then powdercoated, grey for the frame, wheel hoops, and mono shock spring, and semigloss black for the rest. I used new stainless spokes and laced and trued my own wheels. As the bike became a roller I used mostly stainless socket cap hardware with stainless acorn nuts where visible. The headlight, taillight and Fuel tank were painted by another talented friend after I body worked the pieces. A custom PPG purple mix was used for these parts. I mounted the battery where the electric starter used to be since there was no other space for the battery, so I am forced to learn to kick start the bike, when I finish it. At a friends motorcycle shop, I wire up the bikes electrical systems using only a small 4 circuit fuse panel and running the majority of the wires through the backbone of the frame to keep them hidden. After the wiring was complete, we fire up the bike, sync the aftermarket Mikuni VM carbs up, locktite the loose bolts, and go riding around finally! The pleasure of riding your own work is amazing and priceless.

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