RAW Customs 1979 XS650..Black Ice

Ross – I started with a 1979 Yamaha xs650 special that I picked up for $200. After install the new brushes for the alternator correctly ( not shorting out against the cover) the bike started up and ran good. After that I completely tore the bike apart and started building it back up. Started with extending the swing arm and mounting an R1 monoshock.  I went with the monoshock because you see a lot of the hard tail xs650’s running around and wanted mine to look different. I took the front wheel off of a 1979 Yamaha xs750 that was an 18” rim and machined hubs out of 6” of solid aluminum to mount the originally sprocket and rotor to and fit the new swing arm. A new custom length chain and new tire finished off the swing arm. Hand formed tail section around a integrated 2006 R1 tail light rounded out the rear body work. 

The front shocks were chopped and lowered. I hand built the handle bars with new levers, mirrors, slim line brake reservoir from mikes XS, new grips form a 2006 R6, pamco electronic ignition, custom wiring harness, and a new electronic speedometer/ tachometer.

Really wanted to do a bike with no chrome, so everything was powder coated or painted. Anodized red bolts, nuts and covers finished out the over all look of the bike  Hand built exhaust covered in black exhaust wrap really helped with this look too.

I’ve always owned sport bikes but wanted something that stood out but still handles good. This is what I came up with and love ridding.There were a lot of other parts on this bike that I built or changed that I’m sure you can pick out in the pictures.  Hope you guys like it.  I already have another 1977 xs650 in the works. After all fab was done I blacked everything out.  Frame and engine are flat black, and everything else is gloss. Not one piece of chorme on the whole bike. This was the first XS for RAW Customs and look foward to doing another.  Hope you guys like it, let me know what you think. Just opened my own business (RAW Customs) for custom motorcycles, muscle cars, hot rods, trucks.  Pretty much anything with wheels.

Wanted to build a bike that would stand out and get some attention.

Ross Winkelhorst


  1. El Gaucho says:

    How much is the swingarm stretched? Looks right on proportionally.

  2. Matatac says:

    Sorry buddy but that swing arm is crap.

  3. mookie says:

    the front shocks aren’t shocks….
    -those are forks.

  4. fanoboss says:

    I dig it.

  5. RJ from the ole school says:

    I rode many hardtail (rigid frame) panheads that came out of the fifties,,,,I remember how bad they handled on rough roads,,,but they looked damn good….Springer front ends weren’t the best for hard cornering either,,,,Times have changed,,,6 volt to 12,,hydraulic suspension and caliper brakes,,,solid state ignition, LED lights and electronic fuel injection are here to stay,,,,it just makes good sense to try to mix some of the old with some of the new,,,this bike has a bad to the bone look and might handle better than most hardtails,,,,maybe the dudes on MYTH BUSTERS can figure it all out,,,,anyway,,,nice bike

  6. Lance Boyle says:

    Nice work. IMO it’s a ten on the rock meter. Nice mixture of old and new.

  7. Dig the concept. For a possible next step with the rear swing arm, consider a single sided set up. It would be relatively easy since you have used a mono shock. The main reason I am commenting is you mentioned opening a business. I own Special Effects Chopperworks in Burlington Ontario. Opened in 1996.There are many factors in having a viable business. I believe the main reason mine is still open when others have closed is the passion and strength in designing, fabricating, and building. I rarely get paid what the work is worth, (Russel from Exile Cycles once said that making custom made one off parts is fun but the only way to make money at bike building is multi production of a part.) Our first location was downtown as a part sales only store. 2003 moved to a 1800sqf industrial and 2010 had to downsize. I still am having fun at it. Good luck. We are trying to post a XS650 update on this site. Until then you can see it on our w/site chopperworks.ca and see what else we do. The web site builder is free
    by Yola . I ended up making it after years of trying to pay for the service and being let down.

  8. RAWcustoms says:

    Streched the swing arm 6″. Think im going to change it though, its a little bit to much I think. Might go to a single sided swing arm.

  9. RAWcustoms says:

    Your right, I got in a hurry. My bad

  10. RAWcustoms says:

    I’d be lying if I thought everyone was going to like it.

  11. pickles says:

    Great looking bike, and mission accomplished; it definitely stands out. Chrome is overrated anyway.

  12. Matt Dunn says:

    Not my style. That’s why it’s so damned cool! A good build is a good build, this isn’t poorly executed. Its awesome because it’s not a modern sport bike just getting new bolt on parts. Dude put in some work. Kudos

  13. E. Coli says:

    I don’t have a problem with the swingarm. The seat needs to form-fit with the tailcone though. However, if it was mine, I’d ride it proudly.

  14. ED says:

    Is the Bike for Sale? If it is How much?

  15. Ed says:

    Nice Bike is it for Sale?

  16. Ed says:

    The Bike Looks awesome. Is the Bike for Sale? If so how much?

  17. Wayne says:

    What speedo is that?

  18. Greg says:

    Its different, in a good way. You’re right rigid xs (poor mans harley)is way overdone, nice to see so many different things being done!

  19. Ross says:

    Its a Koso db-01r.

  20. CruzBoos says:

    You got mine and you’d get the attention of anyone that recognises the blend of old and new put together. I bet that if you put a 2012 R6 next to her everyone would look at your bitch and comment alot more that the new plastic queen next to her. Keep riding her and enjoy the feel of her vibrations.

  21. h3llb3nt1 says:

    This is great spin on a bike that seems to have many. Well executed and thought out. Great job!!!

  22. Great build man! Nice to see a well executed, truly one of a kind bike in a sea of mediocrity.

  23. Boon UK says:

    Once you`ve had black there is no going back!