Night Rider – Kitchen Build


Appreciate the “beauty of the beast”

Ok this is my second time around writing this; it’s actually shorter than my original write up.  So if it’s short and doesn’t flow well in some parts; now you know why.

I always wanted to buy a streetbike and when I was in my teens I was gearing up to do just that… Until I the guy I was working for at the time had talked me out of it.  He was an old biker. His reasoning was that I should build my first bike and then I could truly understand and appreciate the “beauty of the beast”.

He was successful in convincing me that was the way to go.

So with the extra time I had on my hands after my dad died last year I decided to pull the trigger.  I was originally looking for a Triumph to cut up and turn into a chopper. At the time I thought I wanted a long stretched out chopper.  Then one day I stumbled upon an ad for an Yamaha 650 and looking around on the internet I found that all kinds of people were doing just what I wanted to do – build a chopper.
So it started life as a 1980 XS650 Special II.  First day I brought it home; I disassembled it.  Ordered a TCBros hardtail and forward controls.  Had the neck raked to accept +4″ forks although later decided to use the stock length; which gave the bike a much leaner, meaner look IMO.

I decided I wanted to run a batteryless set up.  I looked around on the garage and found that it could be done and fairly easily.  I picked up a banshee rotor, VF500 Stator and matching reg/rect, and a custom stator plate from MRRiggs on the garage.  He was very patient with my MANY questions.  I also needed a cam driven ignition and all questions pretty much pointed towards a Pamco (who also was very patient with my MANY questions).

I must say the hardest part of the build was the wiring… It was the biggest thorn in my side.
I even had gotten to the point of not even touching the thing for roughly 2 months after I thought I had fried 3 Pamcos (which I hadn’t).  Later I found out that everything just wasn’t grounding out.  After fixing that problem; no more problems!
I am not really sure why I chose black on black, but I did and I haven’t looked back since.  Filed all of the fins to really make the engine pop.  Not much left on the engine untouched.  I chose to run the dellorto carb set up with custom intakes from TCbros instead of the stock.  1.75″ straight pipes with torque inserts. Chrome filter cooler for ease of filters and and it makes for some nice contrast.  Wheels are stock and tires came with stripes on them so no need to change them yet, but I do have plans to put a 21″ wheel up front whenever it comes time to change the tires.

It may not be the most original xs650 build but I love it.  I don’t mind it being another “sporty tank; tcbros hardtail” bike; because frankly I like that look. The seat came from a guy in St. Louis and is attached with some chopper shox.  Fender was stock just reworked to keep my back dry.


I picked up the tail/brake light and license holder off of ebay from a wrecked bike for $15.  No complaints here from it!  I think I got the better of that deal.

It really ended up coming together towards the end and I fell in love with it all over again.  I can’t say it’s a one off, but I sure as in hell can say it’s mine.

Special thanks to the guys at XS650, the garage, My g/f for putting up with it being built in the Kitchen for 8 months, Phil Fisher, Pamco Pete, MrRiggs and this site to renew inspiration here and there when I needed it.

Teebs – fire away.  I won’t mind I promise.  Any questions guys let me know or drop by over at the XS650 forum and ask me!

Jim Williamson (BigJimmyW13)


  1. chevy53 says:

    looks good, i think it would look kinda goofy with the +4 forks on it

  2. BigJimmyW13 says:

    Actually if you look at the picture of the bike in kitchen. You’ll see that the +4 forks are on it. I originally thought I wanted a stretched out look. After looking at it and putting stock length on it I knew it was the way to go.

  3. REEB! says:

    Looks good. But I think I like it better in raw metal! Don’t think teebs is welcome round here anymore or he’s mad at Ted n don’t cone around? ? Something like that

  4. Frankly I like that look also…- and anyhow for first build you jumped in Plenty Ass Deep Enough by taking on batteryless system and carb modifications…not to mention raking the neck when even expirienced builders are still taking the obviously easier way out…lol…- maybe frankly they like an unraked look…- but frankly I think they are Lazy…
    DAMN NEAT BIKE!!!!!….

  5. BigJimmyW13 says:

    I was pretty much a demented schizophrenic insomniac when I was figuring out exactly what I wanted… On pretty much everything.. I flipped back n forth whether to leave the raw steel and clear it or to rattle can a paint job. If so what color, etc, etc, etc…. Of course you now see the outcome of all my dementia. I spent many sleepless nights thinking of what I wanted.

    Thanks I really do appreciate it. That’s pretty much what I was told from the get go…. “you might be biting off more than you can chew, Jimmy” well that was just the fuel I needed to overcome all that I wanted. I say it’s finished, but it is a work in progress and I love it!

  6. Tech7 says:

    Sweet job Jimmy. Great yappin’ at ya these past couple of months! Teebs will be fine. He probably doesn’t like my TC, Sporty tank bike either! I’ll catch up with him sometime, he lives about 15 miles from me. But I’m lovin’ riding it.

  7. chevy53 says:

    oh i see that now. i still like the stock length over the +4. damn cool looking bike. this is the look im shooting for on my build

  8. alfredo says:

    Jimmy . . . . congrats amigo! Looks awesome . . all we need now is some youtube action of this baby purring 🙂

  9. BTW…- congrats on batteryless system…I like a magneto just on principal…- but have not had one since my Cushman when I was 9…
    lol…and my vespa when I was 11…- is there anything you miss about battery?…- other than having to kickstart ?

  10. BigJimmyW13 says:

    Actually, Teebs likes it – or at least he said he did.

    I think the stock length with the raked neck makes it look like a completely different bike.

    Yeah I will get some up whenever I get back to Tejas next week.

    Hmm what do I miss about the battery? The battery.. And haven’t looked back since!! I wanted it to have absolutely the essentials only. Thanks… it had it’s own unique obstacles to tackle.

  11. BigJimmy- I really do like your bike…- you thought long and you thought well…-PS…- the psychiatric test for schizophrenia is a simple one…- If you can correctly spell Schizophrenic…you most probably ARE schizophrenic…

  12. The Almgihty Teebs says:

    Well, a couple of guys on another forum told me that my name came up over here, so I thought I’d drop in and see what was up. First, nice work Big Jimmy, and I give any man a big thumbs up for working on what he has, wherever he has to do it. Good on you for thanking the old lady and the brothers that gave you a hand.

    As for the other; I’m not mad. I don’t waste my time getting mad over bs on the internet. Ted assured me when I first started visiting this site that he wasn’t going to censor people. It turns out that he’s a liar. He did censor me. My posts stopped showing up… unless I wrote what he thought was appropriate. So I went where I can say whatever I want and a bunch of friggin Sallys don’t start crying all over themselves when I do.

    And with that said, let it be another year(?)… or much longer until my name comes up here again.

    Congrats on the finished scoot, brother.

  13. BigJimmyW13 says:

    Harry – I really appreciate it. I still have some tweaks here and there and maybe I’ll post up an update. 8 months of doing, taking off, redoing, cutting, rewelding, etc.. Yeah I’m a history major. I read so much that I end up being a pretty good speller…. SO I hope that’s the only reason I can spell it…

    Teebs – Thanks. I figure Ted could make a rule that if we put your name in our post you can fire away without restraint. Maybe? Maybe not?

  14. BigJimmyW13 says:

    Once I update it with the 21″ front wheel I might put up some more pics.

  15. Harry Carmony says:

    There is something so cool about the “Self-Sufficient” (?????) effect of a Magnito Ignition…-like …- a Motor that Makes Itself Run…- or something like that…(?????)…-lol…
    ….Okay, – I am Not Too Lazy to Rake a Frame, – but yeah I am too lazy to Convert To Magnito…- er well…- “Backing Down” is the more Acurate Term…- but Electrical Systems make me CRY- and I hate to see a grown man cry…- especially at 2am in the middle of a garage floor………Still tho, – I love the Ad that says “Instead of killing yourself trying to HIDE the battery, – why not just Get Rid Of It….”
    ……Maybe I will find the courage and determination someday…- but for now, when it comes to What I’m Gonna FRY,…-I should prolly stick to Bacon and Eggs…

  16. angus67 says:

    nice. got a utube vid yet? been quiet at home

  17. BigJimmyW13 says:

    I haven’t been there really Angus I have been in the St Louis area. I will whenever I get home though.

  18. Ted says:

    Converting To Magnito really isn’t that hard.
    You only need one custom bracket and the rest is just looking up the wires in the right order.

  19. Harry Carmony says:

    Thanx Ted, – I will begin studying on this in earnest…- It’s about time I showed the Wirebox who’s Boss…lol…..

  20. BigJimmyW13 says:

    Ted’s right. It isn’t really difficult. You don’t even need a custom stator plate. You can just use a lightly modified banshee stator plate. Harry if you want more info go over to and look me up (same name) over there and I will give you more info on it. Whenever I was learning about it the only reason I bought a custom stator plate was b/c the guy selling them on ebay was the guy who answered my bajillion questions about doing it.

  21. harry carmony says:

    Thanks for the info and the encouragement…I really have always loved the look…I will definately make this a december project…-100% Pure Bike, – No Additives or Artificial Ingredients…- lol…-Sort of like an old Mustang, – with big wheels…(And 650 cc’s)…..

  22. BigJimmyW13 says:

    That was my plan! I surely didn’t want a fake oil bag! I’m still rolling around putting apes on as well.

  23. BigJimmyW13 says:

    Oh and I plan on doing a rear brake conversion plus Powdercoating the rims and hubs.

  24. cjdye says:

    i really like the look of your bike, im planing on building my first bike this winter and ive made the decision to use the xs650 motor as well for reliabilty and afforability, do you think it was a good idea buying the donor bike or should i just find a good used engine? and if you dont mind me asking how much did it cost for your total build. im trying to figure out how much money ill need to knock the project out over the next winter and your bike is really close to the look im wanting.

  25. Smithy says:

    sorry to here about ya dad….night rider.
    I’ve seen a lot of cool bikes here but this one says tuff.
    I love it dude it just looks right! yeah…’proportionate’ that’s the hard to achieve word.
    Sweet one.
    cheers Smithy

  26. BigJimmyW13 says:

    cjdye – I think it’d be easier to find a running donor bike and go from there. Just depends on how much experience you have. If I had not done some of my upgrades I would have kept it under $2000, but as it sits I’m a lil over $3000, but I don’t know the exact number anymore.

    Smithy – Thanks I appreciate it! 😀

  27. Steven says:

    love the look of your XS…i’ve been gettin ideas from all over this site and can’t hardly wait to get my ol’ 71 goin. great job….great site!!!

  28. BigJimmyW13 says:

    Thanks Steven, It’s still a work in progress, but keep an eye out for an update on some of those upgrades I mentioned before 😉

  29. bulletbob says:

    I love the look of your bike, I was wondering the amount of rake you put into your frame and the process that you did it. I have my ideas on doing it and planning on using stock length forks as I love the low sleek look as you have the exact look that I want