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Yamaha XS 650 Bobber Project - - Cool cars, trucks and motorcycles. Downloadable charts and How-to YouTube vids!

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Yamaha XS 650 Bobber Project


Here we have a Black 1984 Yamaha XS 650 Heritage Special. Paint and chrome is a little rough. But mechanically, it runs GREAT!! I don't really care about the cosmetic condition cause I'm cutting it up. My dad (he owns the 750 Shadow Spirit & VLX600 on this site) had been trying to sell this bike for a while. I asked him about it cause I wanted a project to make into a Brat Style Bobber. He said I could have it (thanks Dad!!!). So, it now sits beside my '94 Suzuki Katana 600 and my poor '84 GT Mustang that's awaiting another motor (I keep too many projects going at once :-)). Anyway, the first set of pictures is how it was when I got it. Totally stock except for the starter button has been moved. I have already changed the handlebars to Black Drag style (I'll get pictures up later). I plan on doing a build story on this project. As I make changes I'll add the pictures to this page.

What do I plan on changing you ask?? Well, here is the list off the top of my head but as with any project it could change as I fabricate and cut. Color scheme: Candy Purple over scratched metal w/ some raw scratched metal getting clear coated. Tank being done in scallops with the scratched metal theme in Candy Purple & Clear. The tank is getting a "see-thru" fuel level hose kit installed. The frame & swing arm after welding and fabrication is complete will be Candy Purple over scratched metal. Cutting the exhaust just where the cone shape starts then welding on "slant cut" exhaust tips. The mags wheels are getting the machined areas polished, the black recessed areas are getting Candy Purple over polish. Thinking of doing the "drilled spoke mod" to them for a little more character. Probably some polish work to the engine jugs and casings. May do the Candy Purple over scratch metal to the side cases. As I mentioned above, the drag bars are installed. I want them a little higher and further back so I'm looking for something to make some really cool "dog bone" risers. Brat Style conversion kit from Visual Impact. After I get the brat kit welded in I'm gonna do a mono-shock conversion using the factory XS650 swingarm with a early 90's Suzuki Katana 750 rear Coil Over. After I get the shockmounts fabricated Im pulling the Katana shock back out, break it down for paint and powder coat (yes, I also do my own powder coating).

The pictures shown to the right are as I got it. Except for the starter button moved this bike is totally stock. Double click on the little pictures to make big pictures.

Here are my main fabricating tools. Hobart Handler 135 MIG welder and a AirForce 400 Plasma Cutter. I also have an old Lincoln AC-225 stick welder when the project has to be dead strong. The H135 does produce a very strong weld. But, I have had to cut through welds with a hacksaw. I promise you .. there is a huge difference in the hardness of the weld between the stick & MIG. I modified the trailer hitch on the back of my full size GMC to change the width. I welded it back together with the old lincoln. I have had well over 8000lbs on my trailer being pulled by the GMC. Not a single crack has ever shown up. Maybe I'm 'ol school but the strength of an old stick welder just can't be beat.

Other tools I have include a 2.5hp vertical mill, 48" sheet metal brake, 24" sheetmetal roll, floor standing drill press & a powder coating system. Powder coating consists of a semi-pro level 100kv gun and a 36"w x 24"d x 65"t oven. I use my old kitchen cooking stove for everything except for the big stuff. Oh yea .. then there is the media blast cabinet with air supply coming from an 80 gallon 5hp Porter Cable compressor. All this is crammed in a way too small 12' x 30' shop.

Here is the XS stripped of the parts and ready to cut. Cut the back part of the frame off. Leave at least an inch or two for trimming and fitting.

Here Shayne has cut the back section of the frame off. He is using the hand grinder to make all the cuts flat and square in preparing for the Brat kit from Visual Where the front section was cut at the curve of the back bone, leave at least an inch sticking out even after cleaning up the cuts. This is so that you can insert a solid bar inside the cut off stubs and the Brat kit tubes to make a solid weld joint. By having the solid bar you can plug weld the sold bar to the frame and plug weld the Brat tubes to the solid bar then a good bead around the seam where the tubes meet the frame. May sound excessive but look at it this way. Its better to be excessive than have the "unsupported" weld flex and break while doing 70mph down the highway. Get my point???

Ok .. nothing important here. Just me taking a second to act stupid!! Shayne just happened to grab my phone and snapped a pict.

Here is the kit that is being installed. Ordered the kit from the Visual website. Check out the site, its pretty cool. Also, on their site there is a link that demonstrates how to install this kit.

First off .. sorry about the crappy picture. I didn't realize it blurred until I downloaded them to the computer. But its clear enough to get the point across. By drilling large holes through the tubing were the inserts are going, it gives another place to weld the plug to the tubes. Would it work not plug welding the tubes and plugs together?? If the weld burns in deep enough ... aaa possibly. It only takes a few more minutes to add some strength to your work. Come on .. don't be lazy cutting corners. The toy you are building is carrying your life around.

Oh yea .. word of advice. Look real close at the short bent tubes, there is a long side and a short side after the bend. I don't know if its right or wrong but I installed the long side down, I liked it that way so I went with it. Now to the advice part. The insert that helps join the kit to the bike frame, once you decide whether you want the short or long side down, drill the holes for the plug welding. Put the inserts from the kits inside the end that you drilled (don't worry about which way the inserts go in, they only fit one way). Tack weld the insert to the tube. Just a 1/8" spot will be fine for now. I almost dropped the insert inside the bike frame. I thought to myself "How the heck would I have gotten that out??"

Ok .. you have both upright tubes drilled and tacked. Insert the uprights into the bike frame. Don't tack weld them to the bike frame yet. It helps to have them able to rotate until you get them positioned where you want them. Like I said in the posting above, the uprights have a slight bend in them. Position the bent to where it is aligned with the frame uprights that you dropped the inserts into. If you like you could hold a long straight edge up that vertical frame tube to help align the curve. I just eyeballed it real close then I tacked it in .. just a couple of small tacks. Before you tack weld the uprights into place make sure there is about a 1/16" - 1/8" gap between the tubes. The gap is to allow the weld to burn deep into the tubes and into the plug inserts. I don't make it a habit to burn in welds until all the fabrication is done. Ya neva know if something needs to come back off .. then it would suck to have to cut out a fully burned in weld instead of just grinding off a couple of small tack weld spots.

Now its time for the horizontal tubes or saddle tubes is what I'm gonna call them for conversation sake. Obviously the tubes have a long bend. Now .. me personally I think the saddle tubes can be welded in different positions. You could take the curve out wide to create a wider saddle area. Or, let them curve down to create a narrower saddle yet make some nice lookin curves coming off the backbone of the bike. I like curves ;-) so Im dropping them down. You can see in the pictures that I carved a "fish mouth" opening for the saddle tubes to sit in. This creates more "edge area contact" for the intersecting tubes. In turn making a cleaner looking intersection and most importantly more contact area for welding. Remember kiddies .. take your time in making the fish mouth cuts. Next set of picture I will better explain how to position the saddle tubes.

Postioning the saddle tubes is a tedious job. First I need to suggest something. You need a solid bar in the front of the saddle tubes. Why?? Well for one, like the upright tubes it provides support for the union of the two tubes. More weld strength and a place for the plug welds to bite to. Another bonus is that it creates a pivot point for the front end of the tubes to help position them for the "fish mouth" cuts. Now, being that the saddle tubes are at a bit of a different angle then where the original frame was welded. You will have to do a little grinder work to make room for the solid rods to move inside the bike frame to allow for the proper angle of the saddle tubes. From there just test fit and grind until the saddle tubes fit the upright tubes as cleanly as possible. Take little metal at a time until the fit is right.

My youngest son Lars showing how low she rides now. HUGE diffence from the waaayyyy too tall bike that it was before.

With the Brat kit tacked in, time to move to the rear suspension. Can I make a rear coil over from a 1990 Suzuki Katana fit? Yet, still keep enough room for the battery and other electronics. After some mock up trial fitting .. I sure can. So let the fabrication begin for the mono-shock convert. You see here that I used a piece of cardboard to make a template of the curve inside the swing arm. I can then use the template to trace the curve on some steel plate to fab the lower mount.

OK .. I didn't have any plate laying around but I did have a left over piece of 1-1/4 x 1/4 bar stock. Plasma off a couple of pieces the needed length .. tack the together .. I have plate. Well .. sorta, I'll later use the old Lincoln stick welder to burn it together. Trace the template curve to the steel and cut it out. You can see by the crappy cut kerf that I need to change the cutting tip. But it will still suffice for this stuff. If I was doing drawing/detail work I would use a new tip.

Now the the plate is cut to conform to the inside curve of the swing arm. It's time to make the area where the shock will actually get bolted to. After looking at the pictures you may be wondering how the shock will be bolted to that swingarm plate. There will be a U-shaped bracket bolted to the shock with a bolt running through the bracket and through the swingarm plate ... of course with the bushings. I cut a square in the swingarm plate so that I could make the angled pieces perpindicular to the shock. As you can see from the picts that they are tacked into place. I still need to make some small triangles to capoff the ends of where the shock will go through. Then I can use the stick welder to make everything one piece.

Out comes the cardboard again. Hey .. trash can make the best tools!! Like the lower mount, traced the profile to steel, plasma cut the general shape. I realize that not everyone is going to have a plasma, if it wasn't for my Dad and I splitting the cost of this one, I wouldn't either. But an 'ol school hand grinder and "cut off" abrasive blades work great also .. done it for years before I got the plas!! You can see I'm holding the cut pieces in place (that bottom piece was still rather hot by the way .. I'm going through pain to get you picts!) .. anyway .. Im holding them in place to get a general idea that the cut is close enough. I went ahead and welded & smoothed the bottom side to prepare the shock tabs being tacked into place.

These tabs came with the Brat kit that was installed in above pictures. I mentioned above that I'm using a '90 Suzuki Katana shock. The top bolt for the Katana shock will not go through the hole in the tabs. That's OK .. nuthin' that my floor standing "Harbor Freight" drill press and a 27/64 drill bit can't cure!!

Geeeze ... if it isn't one thing, it's another!! Welcome to fabrication .. actually it's part of the fun of doing this stuff. Learning to overcome the little things that come up. Kinda like real life huh?? Anyway ... Notice in the first picture, the bottom of the tab is hitting the shock not allowing the tabs to move like its supposed to. Plasma and bench grinder to the rescue!!

Here is the upper assembly tacked together. Yes people I know the cuts and welds look like crap right now!! The plans are using the bench & hand grinders to get everything to fit like I want it. Grinders take little controlled cuts .. get the point now? As for the weld, like I mentioned several times above, the old Lincoln stick welder is going to burn everything into place. Being that I plan on shooting Candy Purple over "scratched metal" finish. The grinder marks from smoothing out the welds are gonna fit right in. Those who are clueless as to what I'm talking about ... trust me ..It's freakin cool!

Holy crap .... It's Christmas in February!!!!!!!! I came home from a hard day of what seemed like a million broke computers to find this. The day got sooo much better!!

OK .. I know this has nothing to do with building the bike. But I'm showing off the T-Shirt that I ordered with the Alien tank from Lowbrow Customs. Pretty cool ... huh??

Hey everyone!! All of you at work that have been asking me to update this build .. yall rock!! I have lots more pictures to push up to the site when it's a rainy day or somethin. It's hard for me to sit still when it's so nice outside. God gave us a$$'s for moving our legs to explore and create ... not just sittin on it!!! Anyway ... here she is in her current state. Standing all on her own with about 5-8 degrees more rake. The mono-shock was a cheap ebay score. Good thing it was cheap because the spring is freakin shot!! I have a 1994 Suzuki Katana 600 with a slighty lighter shock. When I sit on the Katana it drops maybe 1" with my 175lb butt on it. The Yamaha drops 3-1/2+", that's not gonna work. You can see in the picts where the back tire will be if I hit a bump. Give a new meaning to having skid marks in my undies!! I have a Yamaha R1 shock on the way that Im gonna patch in. If it works I'll redo the lower mount system. The upper mount is burned in and I'm not cutting it back out if I can avoid it. Enjoy her modeling poses. In a couple of the picts is my son Lars demo'ing the ride.

09/01/2012 - Hey everyone. The project still exists. I just haven't done much with it lately. I bought another toy (2003 Honda Shadow Spirit, I'll get pict of it up soon) and I've been riding it like crazy. I have put about 3000 miles on it since this past Memorial Day. I ride everytime I get some free time. Also I have had a bit of a set back with one of my main tools. My plasma bit the dust, I gotta figure out whats wrong with it. Until then I just go back to my cut of wheels for cutting the metal. I know there were lots of people that was following this build. I will be back on it soon .. I pomise .. I really want to take it for a ride!!

Updated 05/19/2012 - I haven't worked on it much lately. My son was in for a few weeks and I was hanging with him before he goes into the Airforce. My boys mean more to me than my toys. But, I did get a little time in a few days ago. I've redesigned the rear suspension with a Yamaha R1 shock. It works much better. Also, got the back bone and drop tubes welded and smoothed out. I have a few more pictures to crop/compress then push them up to the site. Thanks yall for checking in!!

Update 11/3/2012 - Hey everyone. I've been buying parts for doing a PMA (Permant Magnet Alternator) conversion. It's factory a electronic ignition. I've made a few ebay scores and slowly getting the parts for setting up a "points style" ignition. But, not gonna use points. It's gonna be either a MSD optical or I found on a forum where they used some parts from a Toyota 4-cyl truck distributor to create an ignition. I haven't made up my mind yet. I went today and picked up some parts my dad was cutting out for me. If it's not raining I'm going to finish cutting those parts out for the swing arm\shock mount. Yes .. I'll take pictures.  mentioned above that I redesigned the shock mount for the Yamaha R1 shock. Well, the shock no longer rides vertical, It's now horizontal. It looks freakin sic!!!! It also helps limit wheel travel to keep from having the back tire up my a$$!!! I'm trying to step outside the box from the cookie cutter bobbers that I've seen on the internet. Thats the fun of doing stuff like this ... be creative!! Anyway, obviously I will not promise when I'll get the picts up. I've been working heavily on another web project. Thanks everyone that is still checking in. I know I have been slacking at the updates. But I will try to do better.

Update 10/6/2013: Who the hell knows when I'll get to work on it again!! I know I want to!

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