A Plea for Yammy Pride


Dear XS650chopper builder,
Having read literally dozens of articles on this great site and having seen hundreds of killer pics of amazing XS glory I have to pause and wonder. You see, there are those disciples of the 650 who would forsake it’s name. You know who you are. You are those builders who shave, cover, burn out, and fill in any trace of the YAMAHA name on the glorious lump that is the XS650. Why have you forsaken me? Would you shave the HD off of a knuckle, the Triumph off a bonny?

Today I am making a plea to all my fellow builders who choose the XS650 as their lump to be proud of this YAMAHA heritage. Let us not forget that the design of this AMA Dirt Track Champion held it’s own for over a decade against in-line 4’s and V-Twins well into the Super-Bike era.  This bullet-proof-beauty is truly one of the best engines you could ever choose to build a bike around and should feel no shame for it’s roots. Let us celebrate the XS650 Engine.

For all it’s faults and all it’s greatness it has surly earned it’s respect in the world of Custom Built. Please, put those metal work skills to better use and leave that Yammy Stamp alone.
Thank you,


  1. Travis Caplette says:

    To you Ted and Harry, Damn fine posts. I have been coming to this site religiously, daily, for over a year. I come here quietly for inspiration and information. I have yet to post any comments, mostly i just like to read and relax in a community that enjoys and respects the xs for what it is, a great bike.
    Thanks to both of you for this post.

  2. toe. says:

    well said, guys.

  3. BigJimmyW13 says:

    I for one don’t mind it being a yamaha. At the very least it lets me easily pick out the guys who ride only a name. The guys that just love to ride don’t care what brand it is. As long as it is yours and something that you love. Although I won’t lie. I thought about filling and machining it out to say Jimaha


  4. Ted says:

    I used to think that guys were dissing the xs when I would see the Yamaha logo filed off or filled in. However, I reconsidered that some bikes are kind of cool when ghosted.

    For a example, bike’s like
    which are completely custom and the only piece left that is stock Yamaha is the engine.

    When people see a bike like that they have no clue what type of bike it is whatsoever. In that case ghosting the bike is like keeping them guessing. A guy would have no clue that it has a Yamaha power plant unless they were really familiar with the xs650..

  5. Tebo says:

    I have mixed feelings. Part of me wants to keep people guessing, but everything else out there is either a H-D, a crotch rocket, or something that looks like a H-D, and I want to advertise that I’m riding a “NOT HARLEY”. I’ll keep the covers just as they are.

  6. I looked up the xs650 on the Wikipedia, – (Good Reading…) It says that the Engine/Trans was designed in 1955 by HOSK Engineers.
    It was a 500cc engine and was produced for 10 years, and then in 1965 the 650cc version was designed…During this ten year period Hosk was bought by a company called SHOWA…- and SHOWA was bought by YAMAHA….
    Yamaha put the 650cc version into production from 1968 untill 1985 ….-How incredible to learn that an indesructable engine/trans designed by some engineers in NINETEEN FIFTY-FIVE…- dominated the race-tracks for TWENTY FIVE YEARS…- and is STILL one of the FIRST CHOICE for Custom Motorcycle Builders, …- If I am counting my fingers correctly…THAT IS FIFTY-FIVE YEARS AT THE TOP !!!!!
    And NO END IN SIGHT !!!!!!!!!!
    And so WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS THING???????????????????
    An Unparalelled LEGEND STANDING ALONE….
    It Stands ALONE…- Independent and SOVEREIGN….
    Sovereign would be the exactly correct word for it…
    I am not a Motorcycle Historian…- but I know there are guys on this sight who are…- So tell me….- AM I GETTING THIS RIGHT???????
    Who Sould Rightfully Claim It???- It Seems Only To BELONG TO ITSELF……

  7. Harry Carmony says:

    Okay…I figured it out…- It Was Originally Designed by the Great Grandfather of Hans Of Holland…..

  8. Lang says:

    I debadge more or less everything I own – I’m very careful for whom I advertise. It has nothing to do with dissing Yami. I’m very proud that every bike I’ve owned over a 30 year period has been rice. I don’t like logos on my vehicles. It’s just an aesthetic choice. Not everyone debadges an item because they are ashamed of what company made it. And yes, I would debadge any bike I owned, including a harley (especially a harley) or trump.

  9. visimpact says:

    Ive had guys checking my bike out big time and compliment me and blah blah blah then walk around the bike and see the Yamaha and go Oh like all the sudden its not ok that they liked it or now they act all deflated. So fukin lame. If the design is good and the Yamaha flows with the design or doesnt take away from the final result I will LEAVE IT. If only to make people think about what can be done with a few bucks and a little bit of imagination and a bunch of hard work.

  10. Thanks for commenting fellas. Obviously it’s an individual builder’s choice like every other detail of your chopper. Don’t fly the yammy flag on your covers because I said so nor if it’s just not gonna work with your build. Ted’s point illustrates an obvious example of that. Make an educated decision though. Look at the history and hell yeah that is the XS650 Lump like Harry Carmony has done (thanks for the links). I’d put my XS engineering up against any American or British made engine out there. And at the end of yet another decade I guarantee I’ve put more time into riding than repairs and mopping up oil leaks. Show me a Shovelhead or Bonny owner that can say that. Once you know where this inline twin has been and how it got there it may sway you to keep the name so that nobody’s guessing. I’ll let them know its a 650 and it’s solid. Remember, the XS650 is the best bike the British never built! Thanks for your thoughts.

  11. Gene says:

    Mines a ’75 – that’s 35 years old. Three lifetimes on a Harley engine…and has never been wrenched.

    I have better ways to spend my day than figuring up ways to camouflage a perfectly good engine cover.

    If you’re one of those lesser folk that worries about being looked down upon by the neanderthals out there because you don’t ride an HD, then fer crissake start hanging out with a better class of people. I don’t do snobs. You may kiss my ring!

    That is all.

  12. james says:

    Hell yeah!! rock the YAMAHA like its going out of style!!

  13. Harry Carmony says:

    I_AM_10_NINJAS…- I am truely glad that you Posted THIS SUBJECT…Because, – I am VERY PROUD…- and APPRECIATIVE of YAMAHA…- for putting these bikes all over the World in Large Number….It is a Subject That NEEDED to be Brought up as a SUBJECT in ITSELF…I have long since been labled “Fanatical” in my Astonishment, and Disbeliefe and APPRECIATION for the XS650…
    Any of us putting together a Project/Build based on THIS ENGINE/TRANS…has the free option to put all of his Heart, Money, and Effort into His Rolling Chassis…- without giving any thought to THE ENGINE…(Unless He Wants To…)
    – we know we can pretty well grab any old XS Engine/Trans, – Bolt it In, and it will run, and run DEPENDABLY, – and run good…- That is the LAST THING you can take for Granted on any other Project/Build…- but it is The FIRST THING you can take for granted on an XS 650 Project/Build…
    All to say, – I am with you 100% on Yamaha Pride…- It is Good That You Posted This…- because – Myself Included, – we all Take It For Granted…-
    I can see everyones different point of view, and all so far have made good points…
    The only thing that has not been mentioned is the place on the sidecover where it says…”KICKSTARTER”…(????????????????)…lol…- To Me That Has Always Seemed A Little Disturbing….

  14. Here’s my take on the subject.
    This sociological phenomenon can be seen in many areas. I’m going to generalize and put people into two categories; the ‘engineers’ and the ‘life style’ types. In the computer geek world (of which I’m a part of), the engineer types appreciate an old clicky IBM keyboards and the beauty of the old UNIX operating systems. While the ‘life style’ types show off their latest apps on their I-phones. For beer drinkers, there are Micro-Brew types and Bud Light guys. For coffee, people who grind their own beans and Folders people.
    From meeting people on the streets, bike nights, and shows I’ve found that bikers fall into these two categories (well many actually); ones who appreciate great engineering and fans of the biker life style. The ‘life style’ guys are into Harley’s while the ‘engineer’ types appreciate good design. The ‘engineers’ are the same guys who get a boner looking at a classic tractor, a Model T in original condition, or a cotton jinn, they see an old GM and know that there’s a classic GM 350 under the hood. The ‘life style’ guys look at my bike and see that I made a cheap chopper out of a rice burner. While the old grizzled bikers reminisce about their first xs650, the wins on the track, the bullet-proof design, and then ask me if I’m interested in selling it. The guys who shave off the logo want to show off the the biker life style crowd, while the engineers show their logo with pride.

  15. jSv says:

    I read a big article on company badges, and it’s basically just free advertising via your motorcycle. Totally unneeded. I bought finned covers for my CB750 that remove the Honda badges, but I thought they looked better on the motor. If people are de-badging because they are afraid of being ridiculed, they’re weak minded riders and should stick to saving their pennies for a Sportster. Buying a bike for a name or a membership into some exlusive club is for pansy scenesters.

  16. armand says:

    amen brother!!

  17. Ted says:

    Should you keep the logo on or off? What on the surface seems like a very simple discussion on aesthetics and personal preference to style; snowballs into a undercurrent of?

    @ jSv “company badges, and it’s basically just free advertising via your motorcycle.” But it is more than that. When companies build and design bikes they build them and design them for market segments. The yamaha xs650 has jumped into multiple market segments because of it’s awesomeness. Look how many different variations there are on the xs650 platform. Marketing departments have us all thinking in their little brackets. Most people I get along with don’t fit in brackets. If you’re smart enough (“smart enough” hahah) to build your own bike, you’re probably smart enough to wade through the BS… XS650 RULES!!

  18. Billybobba says:

    Oh yeh nice bike!

  19. @ Billybobba

    donk! Should have known it was the Aussies. Oi oi oi!

  20. b says:

    You have made me a purest ! I did look at the yamaha in bad lite but I was blinded by the H/D and triumph spot light .I grew up on a yz 80 then 125 and so on.Thanks I dig your scoot as well.pass on knowlege it is the key to a lifestyle

  21. David Mulvaney says:

    UUh I customize them because its affordable, Don’t get me wrong I love my xs’s but the motors really are not that great