Over 10 years ago I started craving a bike build. Inspired by the Chappell brothers I knew what I wanted. I just needed to build it. I have been riding since about 14yo and in my mid 50’s now, I consider myself mechanically inclined and have worked all my life in a mechanically oriented job.
I have a small hobby workshop where I maintain my own daily riders and a few friends and relatives bikes. I am not a builder as such but have done some bolt on type custom work. I then watched Dirtbag and Dirtbag 2. Those two movies persuaded me to just do it.
Like they said “Hell anyone can do this” So after much research, bobber p*** and encouragement from my wife (who also rides an Indian) I finally decided to build my dream bike. It started life as a 1980 Yamaha XS650 heritage special II that I found in a barn for $850 bucks.
It had been sitting idle for many years and only had 13000 miles on it. I brought it home October 2020 and got it running to ensure the engine was going to be salvageable. No major oil leaks, knocks or rattles so I could move on to disassembly.
Tagged and bagged everything whether I would reuse the part or not and took a million photos just in case. Stripped it down, cut it up and got a TC Bros. hartail kit”>TC Bros. hartail kit and had a pro welder mate them. TC Bros. also supplied many parts including the tank, fender, and complete front end assemblies. Revival Cycles supplied the Motogadget M-unit blue along with these cool bar end turn signals and cable kit.
Dime City helped with most all the factory replacement parts. All other parts were bought from the local hardware store and/or fabricated by me. Pinks Custom Auto did the spectacular ice white pearl and black and Country Side Customs hot rod shop did the pipes. All other work was done by myself in my small shop between October 2020 and July 2021.
I spent about 190 hours and almost $8K on this one but it was worth every dime and minute. The first ride went okay but the carburetors were just too far gone for me to work on so those got replaced with a new Minuki set.
Another month or so adjusting and tinkering to get her just right and I now have a hand built bike that is dependable and fun to ride. The dual airbags on the sparkle vinyl seat really do help smooth out the hardtail ride. I named her Betty and she now had a prominent place amongst my other bikes. I learned many lessons during this build but mostly patience.
Think things through because you will need to do maintenance to it later. Take your time, draw it out and do the research. But most of all, have fun. Building this bike has been the most satisfying project I have done in years and I get to hear all the comments at shows and gas stations wherever I go.
Submitted by Rick Barnes
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