Hello people, here is my 1973 xs650 chopper, I had a client that wanted some new tattoos, but didn’t have the cash available and since he was impatient and knew I like bikes (I’d built a few before) he offered me a deal. No cash on my part, just give him a full sleeve (full arm).

The fact that my 6 year old had bigger arms than him had no bearing on my decision to accept his offer (honest) so after asking what he had and glancing over a bunch of photos I thought why not, when I went and collected the bike (frame and boxes of bits) I first noticed the girder front end, minus a shock, the the “FTW” engraved on the ignition side engine casting.

I thought to myself this is more interesting than I thought. Once I got the bits back to mine and unboxed everything in my workshop I started to mock it up. Once I’d done this I took some photos and uploaded them on a xs650 social media platform (facebook) and a gentleman contacted me saying he had originally built it, and sent me some pictures of the build from its early stages.

He also informed me the engine was rephased with Hughes hand built crank, and other parts. PMA, pamco ignition, the coils are of a GPZ500, a capacitor (no battery), so all in all it seemed like a great place to start from, once I’d source all tge parts I needed for the build, kustom tech hand controls, new front caliper, new shock for the girder front end, new clutch, plugs, leads, wheel bearings, ape bars, new cables, brake shoes, front and rear lights (it had none) I stripped it down sent the frame off to be powder coated satin black, the new rear fender and tank I took to Mike at triple C in Burghfield Reading and told him to do what ever he wanted but it has to have metal flake in it.

I never let anyone else paint my bikes. He is in my opinion the best around and doesn’t rip you off. While I was waiting for the paint I found a guy to custom make me a seat with my tattoo studio logo engraved into it, I rewired everything, not that there is that much to do but I ran it through the frame and hid the fuses under a new mounting plate for the on off toggle switch and light switch to keep everything as clean as I could.

To go with the engraving I decided I’d do some metal turning in the other side, (clutch side) so masked it off and did the Japanese rising sun. While the case was off I fitted a new clutch, the engine was taken apart and everything checked, the valves were checked and adjusted, the carbs were sent of to be vapour blasted and rebuilt, new jets diaframs gaskets etc.

When they came back they looked like new, (Wayne Baker is a genius and a gentleman.) and once the velocity stacks were fitted, WOW, it was just the look I was after. The bike was nearly there, the tins were back, the engine was polished and painted, and in the frame, the front end was on, new speed master tire fitted to the front.

The TC Bros fender brackets were back from the painters too, final assembly was almost complete, it just needed the seat. The time o had been waiting for, and nervous about was here, after all I would never hear the motor run, I turned on the fuel tap, flicked the switch, pulled out the choke, and gave it its 1st kick, it fired up right away, no it didn’t, nor after the 2nd kick or 12th.

I scratched my head id have pulled my hair out if id have had any, the following morning I tried again nothing, I was getting no spark, after checking everything and trying again, I decided to strip the wiring out and start again, it turns out I had the wires from the ignition to the coils the wrong way round, when it was back together it roared to life after the 4th kick, and now fires every time, 1st or 2nd kick. I truly love this bike, its not the smoothest or particularly comfy, but man it makes me smile.

Submitted by Michael Norris