XS650 Cafe Conversion

John Fitzpatrick – 1979 XS650 Special – I bought it with the intention of doing a very nice show bike quality bobber. Something like many of your best builds on here, but the bike was in such incredible original condition I could not stand the thought of cutting it up. The original “Special” look was not my cup of tea so the only logical choice to me was to do a café conversion (which I had been planning to at some point anyway). This is not a show bike, but it is a really decent on frame restoration. I design products and source production for a living, but I also build  frame up Off-Road Motorcycles; mostly bored and stroked Honda CRF250’s that I ship to customers looking for a really trick off-road bike to race that looks as nice as the factory bikes, but are more ride-able and built to the customer’s specific skill and needs.a2012-noid-XS650_4

I only put a little over 400 miles on the bike after I bought it (with under 10K miles) and at that point over $1,000 was spent replacing tires, tune-up and little things here and there from that owner. I then took the bike down/apart and started looking for anything else that should be replaced. Mostly it was just rubber parts that got hard. The bike was just in incredible original condition so it was a really easy and nice starting point to get the bike to this point.

noid-XS650_with_HalfPack_1 21-24-03

The stock motor was running great, but the stock vacuum carbs were the typical XS650 carbs that would not hold an idle and were poor on acceleration with a bog mid-range so I bought some brand new Mikuni 34mm VM Round Slide Carburetors and that took care of that issue. They are smoother and deliver more consistent power everywhere.

The pipes are used but in great shape. The stock tank, front and rear fender, seat, brake and tail lights have all been replaced with new parts to give it the café bike look. The stock wheels have been painted black lacquer with a clear coat finish on them. The new parts are all painted black lacquer with at least five coats of clear lacquer over them.


Here is what is new:

The tank is from 77′ xs650. This year tank in my opinion is the best start for this kind of particular look but it was not enough to leave it stock, so I hand pounded out the knee wells to give it the more traditional café look and feel. The tank has been pushed back 1.5″ and lowered .5”. The gold pin striping is laid out to accentuate the nice curves of the tank and the new knee wells. I tried a few configurations and decided on this look. I think it has a more nostalgic look

The side covers are also from a 77 XS650. Again this tin IMO is a much better choice to give the look and feel of the old Norton’s and Triumphs of the 70’s.

The Café seat and fender combo are new and have a Cateye Tail/Brake lite frenched into it. They are new as well as the license plate holder mounted low and to the side of the bike out of the way.

The handlebar is a really simple clubman bar. Nothing to fancy but works well with the overall look.

I sadly will probably have to sell it as I need to make three long trips to Asia over the next few months and need to either sell some MX motors, MX bikes or this bike. I hope to be able to find another clean low miles XS soon so I can onto my original plan of building a show quality Bobber or Board Track Racer. Thanks for hosting such a great site. I love seeing the really nice bikes, they are inspirational and give me ideas on what works for my future builds.