In 1980, Yamaha Motor Company was closing in on a decade of producing these classic 653cc SOHC parallel twins. Not much was altered from the original XS-1 design in 1972, other than a handful of very minor changes to the motor and frame. MikesXS customer Jason Sleight opted for a more drastic transformation of this timeless motorcycle, all the while staying true to the Yamaha XS650’s roots.
“I found this [XS650] and two XS750’s at the same time on Craigslist in Northern California”, says Sleight. “They were all disassembled in boxes but $700 for all 3 bikes wasn’t bad.” Basically, Jason acquired this XS650 for just $233.
Jason has been building motorcycles for 3 years in NORCAL and has finished 6 builds, with his first project being a 1972 Harley-Davidson Sportster. Sleight has been riding for 30 years, which involved some 750 Superbike racing. He got his first 650, a 1974 model, back in 1995 and has always loved the bike.
“The goal was to build bikes and keep all the work in house, with nothing leaving the shop”, Sleight explains. “Engine rebuilding, vapor blasting, polishing, powder coating, leatherwork for seats and even cutting spokes to convert these from 19″ to 18″ rims”.
All the engine parts were ordered from MikesXS such as the cam chain guide, engine fastener kit, carb rebuild kits, and more to refreshen the “heart” of the bike. Clip-on handlebars and Tarozzi rearsets were added to give it its cafe racer stance.
Interestingly enough, this ole Yamaha has more Honda parts on it than what meets the naked eye. Sleight explains his thought and execution behind his bold intentions;
“The headlight was of a CB450 and I was lucky enough to find the classic speedo/tach that actually worked, it just needed new glass. The forks are from a CB350 and I cut the spring holders for a better view of the springs. The polished hubs are from the CL77 and were originally for the 19″ rim but who wants 19″ rims?! A CB350 triple tree was polished and fitted with a push-button starter and horn for a cleaner look.”
After all this Honda transplant work, a 1978 XS750 fuel tank was “dented” and fitted with a custom gas cap to keep the cleanliness flowing. The seat was fabricated and Jason “pounded” the flair on the back to smooth out the rear end, fitting it with black leather and dark green stitching. “It gives a great contrast to the black when you’re up close”. And, of course, to stick with the cafe racer theme, polished trumpets, or velocity stacks, were fitted on the carbs.
“The total build cost was $1,300 but the hours of build time is extensive”, Jason acknowledges. “Again, the key to this deal was to build everything in house with nothing outsourced except for parts and that is what Mikes XS is for – with the best prices!”
Thank you, Jason, for choosing Mikes XS to assist in bringing this truly one-of-a-kind XS650 back to life!
MikesXS Parts List
01-9010: 1980-1984 XS650 Engine Oil Seal Kit
05-0006R: XS650 Cam Chain Guide Stopper
15-6500: Sump Oil Filter XS650
15-6501: XS650 Oil Filter Screen
24-2651: 1980-1984 XS650 Alternator Brush Set
39-6508: XS650 Clutch Spring Screw
48-1408: 1980 – 1984 XS650 Carburetor Kit
51-3204: 1978-1984 XS650 Special Clutch Cable