Appreciate the “beauty of the beast”

Ok this is my second time around writing this; it’s actually shorter than my original write up.  So if it’s short and doesn’t flow well in some parts; now you know why.

I always wanted to buy a streetbike and when I was in my teens I was gearing up to do just that… Until I the guy I was working for at the time had talked me out of it.  He was an old biker. His reasoning was that I should build my first bike and then I could truly understand and appreciate the “beauty of the beast”.

He was successful in convincing me that was the way to go.

So with the extra time I had on my hands after my dad died last year I decided to pull the trigger.  I was originally looking for a Triumph to cut up and turn into a chopper. At the time I thought I wanted a long stretched out chopper.  Then one day I stumbled upon an ad for an Yamaha 650 and looking around on the internet I found that all kinds of people were doing just what I wanted to do – build a chopper.
So it started life as a 1980 XS650 Special II.  First day I brought it home; I disassembled it.  Ordered a TCBros hardtail and forward controls.  Had the neck raked to accept +4″ forks although later decided to use the stock length; which gave the bike a much leaner, meaner look IMO.

I decided I wanted to run a batteryless set up.  I looked around on the garage and found that it could be done and fairly easily.  I picked up a banshee rotor, VF500 Stator and matching reg/rect, and a custom stator plate from MRRiggs on the garage.  He was very patient with my MANY questions.  I also needed a cam driven ignition and all questions pretty much pointed towards a Pamco (who also was very patient with my MANY questions).

I must say the hardest part of the build was the wiring… It was the biggest thorn in my side.
I even had gotten to the point of not even touching the thing for roughly 2 months after I thought I had fried 3 Pamcos (which I hadn’t).  Later I found out that everything just wasn’t grounding out.  After fixing that problem; no more problems!
I am not really sure why I chose black on black, but I did and I haven’t looked back since.  Filed all of the fins to really make the engine pop.  Not much left on the engine untouched.  I chose to run the dellorto carb set up with custom intakes from TCbros instead of the stock.  1.75″ straight pipes with torque inserts. Chrome filter cooler for ease of filters and and it makes for some nice contrast.  Wheels are stock and tires came with stripes on them so no need to change them yet, but I do have plans to put a 21″ wheel up front whenever it comes time to change the tires.

It may not be the most original xs650 build but I love it.  I don’t mind it being another “sporty tank; tcbros hardtail” bike; because frankly I like that look. The seat came from a guy in St. Louis and is attached with some chopper shox.  Fender was stock just reworked to keep my back dry.


I picked up the tail/brake light and license holder off of ebay from a wrecked bike for $15.  No complaints here from it!  I think I got the better of that deal.

It really ended up coming together towards the end and I fell in love with it all over again.  I can’t say it’s a one off, but I sure as in hell can say it’s mine.

Special thanks to the guys at XS650, the garage, My g/f for putting up with it being built in the Kitchen for 8 months, Phil Fisher, Pamco Pete, MrRiggs and this site to renew inspiration here and there when I needed it.

Teebs – fire away.  I won’t mind I promise.  Any questions guys let me know or drop by over at the XS650 forum and ask me!

Jim Williamson (BigJimmyW13)