The mighty Yamaha XS650 has been a hot favourite in the custom scene for decades and a personal favourite of mine. While the XS is an undeniably good base for a custom build I have to admit at times I get tired of seeing the same design approach taken time and time again. Thankfully though in my inbox today was an email from Steven Baugrud whose bright green XS650 is a minty breath of fresh air. Steven has raised the XS bar by creating an original ride that would turn more heads than Pamela Anderson (pre Tommy Lee).
“The XS was purchased for $150 and supposedly “ran when parked a year ago“, which is a common thing you read on Craigslist. I never had any formal training in this, so everything I did on this bike has been self taught or learned via forums, including the welding. The bike had good compression at 160 PSI but I still tore the engine down so I could have it vapour blasted clean before rebuilding the top end.”
“I powder coated the engine covers using iron glimmer and retained the stock electronic ignition. The frame was modified by removing all extra tabs, the rear passenger pegs and muffler mounts, and cutting off everything behind the rear shock mounts. I then welded a new rear loop and fabbed up an electronics tray so I could hide everything underneath the seat hump.”
“For something different I kept the original mag wheels instead of swapping out to spoked rims like most people do and I used Avon Speedmaster MKII tires on front and rear. The forks were rebuilt, shaved of the extra caliper mounts, and powder coated to match the frame. The triples trees were also powder coated, and I made a new dash panel to hold the kill switch, start button and neutral indicator light. A mini speedo and mini headlight round out the front end and the brakes were rebuilt using braided lines.”
“I sourced the tank from an XS750 which I modified to fit the frame. New mounting tabs had to be made and Pingel petcocks added. The seat was made by Ian at Twinline Customs/ House on Fire Industries and features a concealed half moon LED light for brake and running lights. Upholstery on seat pan is genuine cow leather and was made by the talented Ginger at New Church Moto. For ease of use, I retained the kickstarter and the electric starter and I also wanted some safety features so I used Posh style turn signals and mounted an additional brake/ running light on the side mount license bracket.”
“Those high pipes are a work of art made by Scott at Gordon Scott Engineering. He tells me they were very labor intensive and he probably won’t make any more and I had them ceramic coated black. The fantastic paintwork was done by Todd Carlson using a silver base, silver HOK mini metalflake, HOK lime gold Kandy with black stripes and several coats of fuel proof automotive clear (This thing nearly blinds you in the sun!). I built this bike from day one to keep so I put a lot of attention into the details which I hope can be seen.”
Good news Steven, I can see it and I’m sure I’m not alone.