Psychedelic colors schemes, restored original parts, loud pipes

The project started out a little over a year ago. I had never ridden a bike, much less built one. I sought an xs650 due to its seemingly endless supply of parts and thriving community. As luck would have it, a friend of a friend had one for sale. It was a 1978 Heritage Special that had been slightly modified into a Yamaha xs650 cafe racer, didn’t run good, but the price was right.


I took my daughter to pick the bike up. Seeing as how I had never ridden a bike, I had to take the man on his word. He showed me how to start it and I watched him circle the block, but other than that I knew nothing.



We got the bike home in my garage and I would start it and dream for a couple weeks. After I ordered my initial set of parts, my daughter, father and I began to tear the entire thing apart; Down to the last bolt.


I tried to reuse as many bolts and pieces as I could on this build, but here is a small list of things done to this bike:

  • -top end rebuild with all new big bore pistons and port/polish
  • -full clutch rebuild
  • -frame modification on the rear and front neck support. stock rake
  • -custom made sissy bar that holds the fender and is mounted to the swingarm.
    making the sissy bar and fender completely independent of the frame
  • -boyer brandsen digital ignition
  • -cheapie sportster tank
  • -custom laced 16″ and 21″ wheels with cheapie avon tires
  • -paint/powder


I’m sure I am forgetting a lot, but want to keep the list short. It was a long road of hard learning, trial and error and sleepless nights. It took about a year to finish and I can honestly say I am happy with it. By pure luck and magic, it came out just the way I had hoped. I have gained lifelong friendships and strengthened others.

xs650-chop-DSC_8938 –  So, this is your first motorcycle AND your first time building one – How does it ride?

It rides loud and fast. Seems to want way more throttle than I am willing to give her. Being my first bike build and first bike period, I am taking it easy and trying to feel it out before I let her legs stretch.


I had never ridden a bike until the day this one was ready for a test drive. On the first ride I popped a wheelie from 3rd to 4th and didn’t realize it for about a block. I let off the throttle a little and felt the front tire hit the pavement. Probably no more than an inch or two, but enough to make me change my underwear. Spooky fast but I love it!

xs650-chop-DSC_8945 – It’s very 75’s retro- Did you have a picture in your head of what you wanted to build or were you making it up as you went along.

From the beginning, the only thing I wanted to do was a 60’s/70’s bike. In my opinion, the Japanese guys seem to be doing it right when it comes to the “brat” style bikes.Lots of psychedelic colors schemes, restored original parts, loud pipes and the right dose of raw passion. So, I guess you could say I was hoping that if I could somehow achieve even a tenth of what those Japanese amigos were doing, I would be vibrating with happiness. I think it came out more than what I hoped for.
Most importantly, it couldn’t have happened without family, friends and strangers willing to lend a hand or knowledge. Especially my father and best friend in life, my daughter Magalea.

Thanks to: Magalea, Dad, Richard, Dave, Josh, Kevin (Auto Muffler King), Kevin (Simple Bob), Chris (, Sundie, Tia813, Larry Mcbride and everyone else who helped out. You can read more here: I couldn’t have done any of this without you guys!


Thanks Alfred