Mike Gelernter – YamChop Too


I’ve had this idea for about 5-6 years now: To build a bitchin’-ass XS650. About 4 years ago, an acquaintance of mine (Todd, rest in peace, man) sold me the donor bike for $100.00. A pretty ugly ’72, that had some parts missin’, but I was assured that she ran right up untll she was mothballed about 10 yrs ago.


The old XS2 sat in my laundry room up until this past December, when some extra funds became available. Immediately I began buying parts from all the usual websites (Mike’s XS, TC Bros, Lowbrow, etc…) as well as about 25 trips to Ace Hardware.


I enlisted the primo welding and fab skills of one Gar Green over at Wild West Rods and Custom here in Tucson, AZ., and after three and a half months we wound up with what you see here. She’s about 99% mocked-up, and with any luck we will begin the dis-assembly this weekend, and get her ready for her Red Baron red powder coated frame and too-cool metallic red on pearl white paint job with gold hot rod style pinstriping. Wild West will scuff ‘n’ squirt her, while I take the frame to my workplace and shoot the powder onto the skeleton.

Gar and I came up with what we think are some really original details for this chop. In addition to the -2″ under chrome DNA springer, we did a bunch of cool welding features to the frame, and a one of a kind “his and hers” right side hand shifter that is linked thru the frame over to a simultaneously working toe shifter. (After my wife gets good with the hand shift, we will take off the toe shift.) Even tho we will remove the toe shift, we will always have the option of running either hand or toe or both, because we are making inter-changeable shift arms for the tranny that will allow either set up, and be able to do it in minutes. The bike can have several looks, and functions.


The only thing is, after about $6500.00 of parts and labor to this point, we still are not sure the motor will run. She turns with the kicker, and makes sucking and blowing noises from the intake and exhaust ports, so haw bad can it really be. These things are bullet-proof, right? I sure hope so.

Oh well, have a look at the pics, and please feel free to e-mail me with question, comments, praise or disgust. All input is welcome.

Thanks for a cool website, and keep-on-a-choppin’!

Mike Gelernter


  1. Ry says:

    Love the coil bracket!

  2. tadd442 says:

    agreed….that bracket looks great!

    Great build too!

  3. Barney says:

    The ribbed tank is cool, can’t wait to see how the right side shifter works. I want to do the same. Good luck.

  4. Sean from boston says:

    The bracket Looks radical man, and the pipes look great so far, seems like you have a lot of time and Money into this old girl, I am digging the idea of a his and her hand shifter that’s on the right side sounds bad ass, the only thing that I would change is giving it a bit of rake but other than that the bike looks great

  5. shawn says:

    i like the bike but 6500’s a lot of $$ to have into an xs…good luck with the engine hopefully you’ll get lucky like i did, never heard mine run either but same thing it spun over and had compression. after a yr of putting it together i fired it 2 weeks ago and it purs like a kitten

  6. patrix says:

    DITTO to many of the above comments…….I wanted to comment on the “DISGUST” reference…..that has no place HERE…. were builders risk sharing , some for the first time,something of themselves through their ideas and projects in a way that few dare to start …let alone finish. I admire YOURs and others “trying effort” regardless of your outcome.

  7. ghostryder says:

    looks good, definately wish you luck on the motor. first time i built mine i got to ride the bike twice before discovering that i had a scarred cylinder. simple enough thing to fix but huge dissapointment to having it all done and have to tear the top half off and order even more parts. lol btw i discovered that toyota has a valve seal that exactly matches the xs.

  8. The Flying Imp says:

    That bike is gonna look ill.

  9. joe speedboat says:

    Very cool!! The colours your gonna use sound bitchin’ too. But… since you have put so much many and time in it, use a few dollars on a gasketkit and open the engine. That will spare you a huge disappointment and an easy fixable thing now can become a very expansive problem later. Plus it’s easier to polish the engine when it’s apart.

  10. ghostryder says:

    joe is 100 percent right. not only will you save yourself some grief if there is a problem but paint and polish will be sooo much easier on the motor when its apart.

  11. ghostryder says:

    PS if your carbs are bonestock plan on having to deal with that as well, with that intake and exhaust its a certainty that they will need jetting. another job which will be much easier if you plan ahead.

  12. ghostryder says:

    ok, i looked up again and saw that the carbs are not stock. sorry its late and ive been drinkin and thinkin about my 650s next carnation.

    Good Luck!

  13. Mikey G. says:

    Thanx to all who have commented so far. I will take all advice to heart, especially the comments on how I should handle the motor situation. You guys are great! This is my first attempt at a chopper build and so far all my ideas have come to fruition. I will update photos after paint and final assembly, and hopefully she will be all I dreamt about for all this time. My thanks also go out to my loving, supportive wife who put up with all the late nights at Gar’s, and all the late nights to come at home while we are putting it all back together. She should really enjoy riding it when it’s done!


  14. jesus says:

    more pics on the his and hers shifter ,remember this site is for retards miscrents and scalleywags.

  15. mark bailey says:

    Tons of great work, the details small as they may seem will really distance your bike from many. How those details are executed make or break these things. The thing is a lot of this detail work is not $$$, it is just time sweating the small stuff, if you do it on your own time.

    One thing to check to get it running is that the mechanical advance is indexed correctly. My bike would run but snort and back fire, sounded like a Harley burning rocket fuel while simultaneously poking the kill button!

    I found that the hole in the cam that holds the pin that indexes the mechanical advance was buggered and the timing was way advanced, something to rule off the list anyway. I chased my tail for a while on that one……….

    Good luck with the build!

  16. ghostryder says:

    forget points, get a pamco!

  17. mark bailey says:

    I would recommend the “Pamco” electronic ignition, I popped for the coils also. I think the bill was $135 for both through mikes XS. Valve adjust is easy. If the motor has 120+lbs of comp, it’s timed correctly and the pilot circuit is clean,it will idle.

    I also had to replace my floats, one was cracked up and not floating and shutting the fuel off, there cheap through mikes also.

  18. Mikey G. says:

    Mark B. – I would love to get a Pamco, but I don’t know if I can use the stock style coils and my custom coil bracket. If I can, than I will immediately get a Pamco. If not, I guess I’m just stayin’ with the OEM points ignition, because I like the look of the custom bracket. Also, can anyone tell me what pieces and parts of my electrics will go into my “fake oil bag”, this is my first build and It’s been a sharp learning curve. Lastly, Is there anyone in Tucson who has posted on this site? Phoenix? Arizona? Would love to hook up w/ likeminded XS’ers, and compare bikes / notes, and maybe do some rippin’ around on our Bad Motor Scooters! Isn’t that what it’s all about? Anyway, if anyone can help me with any of my above questions, I would really appreciate it! You guys have been my inspiaition for building the coolest ‘lil chop in town!
    Right On!

    Mikey G.

  19. Rodrigo says:

    I need talk with Michael Gelerntner, I’m from Brazil and worked with him on aircraft maintenance at Embraer, please if anyone knows how to talk with him please tell my email. rdulze@yahoo.com.br.