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Follow my cafe racer build of a 1977 Yamaha XS650.
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XS650 Cafe Racer Build
7 to go till we reach 1000 likes.
Merry Christmas to you all. I have been riding my XS650 as much as I can lately, almost starting to question the need for my Italian beauty - the Panigale 899. There is something to say about how much the XS650 makes you feel like you are connected with the machine. Perhaps I should replace my need for horsepower with a new muscle car - like the 2016 Mustang GT. Let's see if this comes to fruition in the new year. :) Let me know what you think.
XS650.com 2016 calendar is up for presale. Check them out.
Attended the Bikes and Breakfast this weekend in Clifton, VA. Managed to grab a coffee, missed breakfast, but standing around my bike answering the many questions about my build made up for it. I enjoyed seeing all the other bike and the weather couldn't have been any better for the second week in December.
A few photos taken by my friend this weekend. Thanks Damon.
Managed a 4th place in the 2016 XS650 Calendar with 93 votes. I am impressed with the community over on xs650.com and pleased that I decided to start my first build with this bike. Plenty of support over there, check them out.
Check out all the really cool xs650's vying to make it into next years calendar. My entry is xlr8tn! Sorry, only previous xs650.com members can vote, but you can check out many cool bikes.
2016 XS650 Calendar VOTE HERE! The Garage
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Woohoo, figured out my starter issue. So here is the deal. Power to the starter solenoid, output to starter, blue wire from starter switch MUST be ground not +12V as I had. Red wire get kill switch output. Now I know.
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Out and about after a few minor fixes. Fixed my idle issue, found my oil leak (tach plug), tightened my chain, re-adjusted clutch, and adjusted my gear shift linkage. I'm able to find neutral, but it's still a little tricky.
XS650 Cafe Racer Build's cover photo
XS650 Cafe Racer Build
The INSPECTION - Today was the day for my state inspection. A few things came up that I want you all to be aware of for your build. I am in Virginia, so of course different rules might apply to your area. Here is what the inspector identified:
1. Rear brake light must have red cover and must be red even when bike is off. Mine was clear when off and always red when the bike was running.
2. Turn signals must be amber in color . Mine had a smoky/dark appearance.
3. Must have red reflectors on left/right rear, and amber in the front. Similar to what you would find on a bicycle.
4. Headlight brights must point no higher than the highest height of the enclosure. He let me fix this one the spot.
5. Must have 2 rear view mirrors, I had one mounted at the handlebar on the left.
Even though I had all these issues, I used the following phrase often, "I'm not sure this bike had that back in 1977". It seemed to work as I got my inspection sticker anyway with a promise to fix these issues or risk getting pulled over.
On another note, today was exhilarating kind of day. I decided to ride it to work which is only 5 miles away from the house. No better time to shake it down and resolve any mechanical issues, NOT. Until I get to know how this bike runs on a daily basis, I can not fully trust it yet. It will come in time. Needless to say, I left work early just to make sure I didn't get caught after sunset. I believe I got it up to 50mph and took an uphill exit. The bike started spurting / hiccup'ing and I was like what is going on here. I get to the top of the hill and it stalls. Guess what, I ran out of gas. Switched to RESERVE and managed to get it started again. But keep in mind, only kick start, so I'm on the side of the road kicking away :) Long story short, I made it home. A few things to sort out, which I'll do this weekend. Definitely, I need to get the starter working.
There is just a total different feel on this bike than I get on my Ducati Panigale 899. You definitely feel connected to the machine. You get the sense of being one with the bike. You feel every vibration. It is pure enjoyment.
My next adventure will be to take a trip to Middleburg to get some photos of this awesome bike.
The NOISE - Let's get ready to RUMBLE. Finally got a chance to adjust the carbs a bit. No more popping on the right side exhaust. Also, I finished up the installation/wiring of my GPS speedometer from Speedhut yesterday. Inspection time tomorrow, wish me luck.
Today was spent resolving a few issues remaing, like securing the exhaust and relocating the license plate bracket to the top rear suspension mount. The location of the license plate was blocking the output of the exhaust, which could prove problematic. I fabricated an extra bracket to attach my existing plate off the top bolt instead of bottom. Yesterday, I took a trip out to the Harley shop to purchase some exhaust brackets. I needed 2 brackets to secure the muffler to the header and then header to the frame. Of course, they only had 1 of the frame mounts, so I need to wait until it arrives. I should get my personalized plates in the mail this week and I'll mount everything up then.
Still remaining, speedometer mount and wiring. Lastly, inspection.
Speedometer Bracket - Step 1 - find aluminum stock thick enough to make a decent bracket. Step 2 - head to Home Depot for the third time today. Step 3 - Realize they have nothing remotely close to what I need. Step 4 - What would Macgyver do? Step 5 - Purchase door threshold. Step 6 - Mill it by removing ridges on the bottom and shape to fit diameter of speedometer. Step 7 - Add slight bend. Step 8 - Enjoy. Now I know I could have bought it from Amazon and had it shipped 2 day or possibly same day. But until Amazon can get it to me before I can build it, I'll keep doing what I do.
The EXHAUST - has arrived and looks awesome. Exactly what I was going for in this build. Today I addressed my clutch cable issue. Took everything apart and packed the worm drive with grease and poured dribbles of 3-in-1 oil into my cable until it poured out of the other end. Put everything back together and it now operates so smoothly. Also, my exhaust headers from mikesxs.net arrived yesterday as well as my short reverse cone mufflers from Lossa Engineering. So those got installed today and let me say it sounds really nice, especially at speed. Did I mention I took a brief sighting lap around my neighborhood block. Yes, I went thru the gears, tested the brakes, suspension, signals, throttle, and returned home safely. Need to finish bolting down the exhaust with clamps this weekend. Tomorrow, on to mounting my speedometer on a custom made bracket. Couldn't find any thick aluminum plate so I ended up purchasing a door threshold and I'll mill it down to what I need.
Lossa Exhaust on Mikesxs 1 3/4" headers.
The KICK - Today was the day. I'll spare you the 50+ kicks to get this started and the worn down battery. Thankfully, I used the old one that came with it to perform this action. Had a few issues I had to sort out, like a kill switch wired backwards, and an issue with the electric starter. It was acting squirrelly all day and would have proved useful in getting it started quicker. So a few things left to address.
I started the day by building a makeshift solder pot using an old tire iron. I set it in my vice and melted a bunch of 50/50 solder to fill the pot. I cleaned all the wire and end pieces with acetone and added flux before dipping in the solder. I left it in for a bit while the wire and end got to the same temp as the solder to ensure I didn't get a cold solder.
I managed to get a little video of how easy it starts with only one kick. Take a look. Last thing I need to make this the prefect cafe racer is a new exhaust system. All in all, I totally stoked that this beast came back to life and is now purring again. Stay tuned for my upcoming test ride.
XS650 comes back to life following rebuild.
The VINYL - The paint has cured and it is time to apply my racing stripes. Here is the final outcome. Decided to put my old racebike number on the fender instead of tank. Let me know what you think.
Finished up the painting today - 3 layers of base coat (omni plus) / 3 layers of clear coat. Would have been all done yesterday if I didn't go and mess up the fender with a tack rag mistake with the clear coat. Today, I sanded it down with 1000 grit wet paper and sprayed 3 more coats of clear. My paint booth worked well and passed all the limited overspray thru the filter. The LVLP sprayit gun did it's job and I did not have any issues. Very little overspray using this model from Amazon (SPRAYIT SP-33000K LVLP Gravity Feed Spray Gun Kit). Next up will be to let these cure before I go placing the racing stripes. Initially, I was planning to place the stripes under the clearcoat, but the more I read about it, there were too many negatives about the clear hardener messing with the adhesives in the vinyl, so I decided to just lay them on top. A few more items to tackle this weekend - fabricate rear brake lever that won't interfere with my engine, mount speedometer and wire, create seat standoffs, and bend kick start lever to not interfere with rearsets. Lastly, and the moment we've all been waiting for, hit the start button.
The TANK - this weekend, a long one at that, is dedicated to the painting of my tank. Previous attempts to get it painted at local shops has me thinking people are smoking crack. $800 for painting a tank and a few stripes. Thankfully I am a DIY kinda guy. Bought me a LVLP spray gun and will give it a go this weekend. I setup my spray booth, a make shift one at that. I ended up using my 10x10 canopy and installed all the sides covers. I stepped foot inside a KMart today for their 70% discounted going out of business sale, and managed to find one box fan for CHEAP. Gonna face the front of my canopy with visquine and install the fan along with an AC filter to catch all the overspray so it doesn't get into the environment and onto my car. Prepping the tank is one of the most time consuming processes, but once done wil be the most rewarding. Almost $800 rewarding. Here I have sprayed on etching primer. I initially put on 3 coats, but once it was dry, I could see all sorts of imperfections. I decided to go back to the bondo stage and fill in a few low spots that the hi-build primer would not take care of. Thus far, I spent $150 no paint and $85 on a nice spray gun. Stay tuned, I'll post more pics throughout the weekend. I am going for a really cool color that I saw on an Audi S5 Moonlight Blue Metallic. Along with that, a couple of grey brushed aluminum racing stripes.
The WIRE - This weekend I am knee deep in wire. There are so many wiring diagrams on xs650.com, it is hard to find one that fits every need. I ended up taking different pieces from a couple of diagrams. I tested everything out to make sure all was working before soldering. I picked up a few connectors for that professional look. For the ignition module, I found the ground clamps at Lowes. Getting close to the end. I need to paint my tank and bend my Kickstarter, then hopefully ride it out of the garage before winter!!!
The INSTALL - My son and I managed to get the engine installed this evening. One step closer to riding this bad boy out of the garage. Spent some time last night checking and adjusting the valves. Hopefully it will not rain all weekend, because it's time to get the tank painted.
The TORQUE - Finally got all my parts in to finish the engine build. Today I installed my head, cam, and cover along with the head gasket. I used some yamabond on both sides of the gasket, around the pins, and chain tunnel. Added some nice brass washers on the main top bolts instead of the rubber ones.
It was like Christmas when my Hugh's Handbuilt PMA finally arrived. These have been on back order for some time, and I was glad to get my hands on one. The install was easy and will definitely upgrade what was on there since 1977.
Now, to get this installed in the bike this weekend will be some major accomplishment. Carburetor building is on the plate next and then tank painting.
Cam chain rivet time - Ended up using two separate tools, the harbor freight chain breaker and the wedge part from a nut splitter. Even though I modified the nut splitter to allow it to be placed over the chain, I could not keep it still with the wobbly side connected to the bolt. I just took the removable splitting piece and put in the HF breaker, being careful to not drop it into the engine.
In prepping the top end, I noticed that I was missing 2 dowel pins that keep the cam cover in line with the head. Another order from Mikesxs.net and a little patience. I searched high and low, but can only guess that they weren't in there to begin with from a previous build. Gonna do it right this time. Also picked up some new cam bearings to swap out while I am in there. I noticed some scoring where the case halves meet.
Hugh's Handbuilt finally got some more PMA's in stock. I should get this in on Tuesday and install that next.
The JUGS - First off, I need to replace the cam chain tensioner guide and chain. I learned a cool trick from nightflyer12345 on youtube. In order to replace the cam chain, connect the rods together with a couple of zip ties and then use a rubber band around the bolts to then zip tie to the rods. This will allow you to pull through the chain with the rods moving up and down without hitting the engine case. Worked like a charm. With that done, it was time to install the pistons into the jugs, attach to the connecting rods, and then set the circlips. Check out the videos I made this time on the process.
The GASKET - a little engine building is in order if I ever want to get this XS650 back on the road. Started this by soaking my clutch friction plates in oil overnight and doing a little inspection on the steel plates for war page. Next, installed the kick start mechanism. The a little degreasing of the engine and three coats of aluminum paint later, voila. Replaced the electric start and pushrod seals and installed single length rod instead of stock one with ball bearing. Gonna fit the pistons tomorrow and get the top end buttoned up.
The Final BUILD - Putting everything back together for the last time. I spent the entire weekend reinstalling the rear swingarm with new brass bushings and also replaced the inner tubing and bolt after finding out that the old zerk fittings were stripped. With the rear all bolted up and wheel installed along with new adjustment plate, I moved on to the front end. Live and learn, but my powder coater had not clue what to mask off and not paint. It took a bit of time to remove unwanted paint on swingarm ends where the axle goes as well as kick stand mount. I should have taped off all of that to prevent this headache. To remove, I scraped with a razor blade and then cleaned up with some sand paper.
My rear brake lever and supporting rod needed a little rejuvenation, so I sanded it all down and gave it a couple of coats of flat black paint.
For my footpegs, I needed a 10mm spacer to offset my footpeg from the bracket so that I would clear the acorn nuts. I located a spare rearset from an R6 to reuse it's mounting holes.
Today, I tackled the setup of steering stops to prevent my tank from being damaged by the clipons when the wheel turns. Since I converted over to a 2003 GSXR 600 front end, the stock tabs were in the wrong location to work. In order to reuse the stop that was welded onto the frame, I needed to drill and tap a couple of screws with large sockets on top. I decided to go with M8 size metric screw. I used a 17/64 drill bit and then tapped. Works as designed now.
You have to love Amazon, ordered a new DID chain on Saturday at noon and received it at 8pm. Also ordered a new LVLP paint gun for my next project, painting the gas tank and fender. Ordered it Sunday morning and received it same day with free shipping.
I'll let you all know how the painting of my gas tank turns out. I found a cool place up in Herndon that sells all the paint and supplies, with advice to back. The LVLP should allow me to use my Porter Cable 33gal compressor with ease. I have a couple of cool graphics to go on the tank to pay homage to my racing days with my old race bike number #34 and a few racing stripes.
South Riding, VA
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