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Delagem's XS650 Build

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by delagem, May 15, 2019.

  1. delagem

    delagem XS650 Addict

    My son picked this bike up about a year ago. We had a couple of family road trips planned, and this was supposed to be my middle son Chris's (age 17) ride for those trips. Circling Nova Scotia thru Maine was one. Route 11 from NY to New Orleans was the other.

    [​IMG]IMG_1071 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Unfortunately, Chris bought the bike on his own (I travel for work a lot, and was out of town), and the PO was deceitful. It was raining, and the seller wouldn't let him ride it in the rain. It turns out the bike didn't really run much beyond idle. Chris was given a Suzuki Boulevard, and the planned road trips happened, while the XS languished in the garage.

    We lost Chris to the Dark Side (Cruisers), so this bike was handed down to the youngest son, Riley. Yet it still didn't run.

    11 months of picking away at the bike during occasional down time, and a lot of help from many forum members here eventually led us to the problem, a junk MikesXS charging rotor. A very nice rewound OEM rotor from Jim here sorted that out.

    The look we were going for was similar to my Cafe-styled Norton Commando. Ace bars, less chrome, and a leather tracker-style seat from Counterbalance Cycles in Provdence, RI were the first on our list.

    We took some of our styling cues from this well known XS650:

    [​IMG]clutch_custom_sept2014_00019 by michael delage, on Flickr

    The paint was a disaster. We settled on Ford Vintage Burgundy Metallic:

    [​IMG]IMG_1343 by michael delage, on Flickr

    The grab bar and factory Heritage Special seat had to go. To make up the space for where the grab bar once was, we fabbed up some copper spacers:

    [​IMG]IMG_1556 by michael delage, on Flickr

    The copper spacers led us to a design idea, copper and brass accents:

    [​IMG]IMG_1342 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Some more brass, some anodizing, and some brass-colored paint:

    [​IMG]IMG_1586 by michael delage, on Flickr

    An $8 brake line from Banggood, as recommended here on the forum:

    [​IMG]IMG_1587 by michael delage, on Flickr

    A Lucas Style powder coated taillight from Dime City Cycles cleaned up the rear fender:

    [​IMG]IMG_1439 by michael delage, on Flickr

    I really didn't like the filter arrangement on these XS's. I went with XS650shop.de for the spin-on filter conversion:

    [​IMG]IMG_1576 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Fast forward to this afternoon, when the bike has run thru its' first tank of gas, running well. Really well. 150 miles to reserve, 54mpg. I really do enjoy this bike, more than any in my garage right now. A few gripes; the foot position is a bit odd; stock peg position but clip-on style bars has me folded a bit too much in the middle. Some rearsets will probably be fitted down the road. I really don't care for those huge, US DOT style turn signals. Nearly every motorcycle I have, has European style turn signal integrators added. I caught a bit of flack on here for suggesting integrating these turn signals last year, but seriously. We are the only country that requires 18" between bulb centers, in the friggin world! On the other hand, the Norton has giant, goofy turn signals too; for now it's fine.

    There is a sidecar planned for the future as well. I have a feeling that if this gets a sidecar fitted, another XS will be joining us; this machine is just too much fun of a bike to be turned into a lopsided tricycle...

    I used to joke with Riley that I was going to keep his XS, and give him the Norton. That's beginning to sound like less of a joke with every ride...

    Some pics toward the end of todays ride, on a bridge crossing the Tioughnioga River in the hamlet of Itaska, in upstate New York:

    [​IMG]IMG_1804 by michael delage, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_1815 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Thank you to everyone who helped in this project! YamaDude, GGGGary, Jim, XSLeo and GLJ.
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  2. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Wow!! That really came out nice! Not your run of the mill XS650 for sure! Nice job! ;)
  3. yamageek

    yamageek XS650 Member

    NY USA
    Sweet machine. Love the blackout look with minimal maroon touches.
    I agree the turn signals should go. They really don't do a thing for the look. Do inspectors really know that 18" is the rule?
  4. Bushyeyed1

    Bushyeyed1 XS650 Addict XS650.com Supporter

    Looks good and just my opinion but I would hold off on a side car.
    gggGary, TwoManyXS1Bs and Jim like this.
  5. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge, is the unknown. Here be Dragons Top Contributor XS650.com Supporter

    I'm just tickled you're finally getting to enjoy her. :)
    I like the look.:D
    TwoManyXS1Bs, delagem and Mailman like this.
  6. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Fit Euro bend bars and you'll be comfortable again. The stock MC will sit at a much better angle too .....


    mrtwowheel, gggGary and delagem like this.
  7. Superjet

    Superjet XS650 Junkie Top Contributor XS650.com Supporter

    I like that seat you got there Delagem!
    gggGary and delagem like this.
  8. delagem

    delagem XS650 Addict

    I don't think so. Never had a problem getting my other bikes inspected, and most of them have 2 brake light bulbs that also double as turn signals. The guys on here were bringing it up as a safety issue.

    Agreed, but it isn't my bike, it's Rileys. Mostly he wants it to be able to carry his lacrosse gear, and golf clubs! I suspect after a few weeks with the car, he'll be asking me to remove it...

    Thank you Jim! Can't say enough about your service with the rotors! You saved this bike!

    Funny you should mention this! I suspect those are the bars that were on the bike from the PO! Sure look a lot like yours.

    Thank you! The seat was made by Weston Boege of Counterbalance Cycles. It was a lot more fiddly to fit than I expected. I had to grind out about a 9" oval in the middle of the fender; as the seat bottom is flat, anything that stuck up above the frame's rear hoop had to be removed. Then, I had a local welder fit a sheet of similar thickness steel, following the curve of the frame loop. Then, paint. Oh, and after knocking the fuses out of the fuse box a half dozen times, I used a ball pien hammer to put a concave spot (<cough> "clearance!") into the bottom of the seat, where the fuse box resides... I looked for pictures of this, but can't find any, sorry.
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  9. delagem

    delagem XS650 Addict

    So today was sidecar day. Took about an hour to fit clamps, grind off brackets, touch up frame paint etc last night. Had to lose the right hand side reflector mount, and the upper of the two tach cable guides. Then maybe an hour and a half connecting up the car this afternoon. Another hour of test rides, moving brackets in/out, adjusting lean of bike, toe-in of car, etc and we have a winner!

    Really nothing complicated, and a bit of fun on a nice sunny day.

    Bars dance a bit at low speeds (normal for sidecars) and cornering is, um, "interesting"... At speed you almost wouldn't even know the car was there. Braking isn't nearly the problem I've read about.

    Still have lights and the cars' drum brake cable to connect.

    The youngest son and his ride:

    [​IMG]IMG_1851 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Lower mounts are easier to tighten by tossing the bike on its' side:

    [​IMG]IMG_1858 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Crash Test Dummies:

    [​IMG]IMG_1862 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Heading out for a round of golf:

    [​IMG]IMG_1863 by michael delage, on Flickr
    Last edited: May 19, 2019
  10. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    That’s really terrific! I love sidecars, they just look like so much fun! I hope you really enjoy it. How did you come by the side car? Craigslist?
    delagem and Jim like this.
  11. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

    Very nice............Love the crash dummy.

    Have you thought about a leading link front end?
    delagem and Jim like this.
  12. delagem

    delagem XS650 Addict

    Thank you! Yes, I've been watching C'list off and on for years. Bought it last fall; even though the XS wasn't even running yet. Timing wasn't ideal, but the price was right enough to store it over the winter.

    Ace the Crash Test Dummy is always ready for adventure!

    [​IMG]IMG_1859 by michael delage, on Flickr

    I have thought about a leading link, and I did a bit of reading on the various sidecar forums over the winter. But the car really doesn't take that much effort to steer. At speed, you hardly even notice the car is there.

    I suspect that having 2 separate brake pedals to aid in cornering would be more useful than the reduced trail that comes from a leading link setup. That said, I've never ridden either, so I'm just guessing on this.

    Honestly, I don't think he'll want the car on long enough to go that route.

    The Velorex clamps aren't much; I've read a lot bad about them. Seem fine to me so far, however.

    [​IMG]57992105310__325F3F6C-FA25-4F10-9CA1-FE86EEB6EB26 by michael delage, on Flickr

    I've decided to use a removable pigtail for the 4 wires for the cars' lighting; need to head over to NAPA tomorrow to pick up some kind of plug for this. With that and the 4 bolts for the mounts, I would guess the car could be attached/detached in less than 5 minutes.

    One last photo from the bikes good side! At least until I decide if I'm going to paint the sidecar or not...

    [​IMG]IMG_1857 by michael delage, on Flickr
  13. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

    Ace looks like he has a bit of kelpie in him..........Had a kelpie Rockweiler cross and he would go any where. Loved that dog.
    delagem and Jim like this.
  14. delagem

    delagem XS650 Addict

    He's an SPCA mutt, best we can figure is Australian Border Collie and Labrador mix. He is an amazing dog. Loves going anywhere.

    [​IMG]IMG_1371 by michael delage, on Flickr
  15. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge, is the unknown. Here be Dragons Top Contributor XS650.com Supporter

    Reupholster the seat and maroon paint to match and I'd say you got a winner there. :D
    delagem likes this.
  16. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Normally, you run higher, wider handlebars with a sidecar, makes wrestling it through turns easier. You also usually need to stiffen up the suspension front and rear.
    delagem likes this.
  17. delagem

    delagem XS650 Addict

    Agreed, if cost were no object I'd have Weston reupholster this seat too. But as the bike seat cost $400 if I remember correctly, I can only imagine the cost of the sidecar seat would exceed the cost of the whole bike! In Westons defense, it is real leather, and a one-off. He doesn't make them this way, and I had to persuade him to do this one!

    Thank you for the advice. The Ace bars only an inch narrower than the Euro bars I have. The upright position might help, so something to consider. Springs are definitely a bit overwhelmed, as you can see in the photos above.

    It never ends around here. Flat tire this am. On the plus side, I did wire up a flat 4-prong trailer plug for the sidecar wiring, so now disconnecting just takes a few seconds. It is nice how easy changing a tire is on a sidecar, vs a 2 wheeler.

    [​IMG]IMG_1864-1 by michael delage, on Flickr
    TwoManyXS1Bs and Jim like this.
  18. JAX71224

    JAX71224 jax71224

  19. JAX71224

    JAX71224 jax71224

    Recently sold my Velorex, regrettably after owning it for 15 years and never using it on anything. I am getting to where I don't ride my Gold Wing Interstate any at all. The sidecar was originally intended for me to be able to ride after getting too frail to ride that lead sled........Well I am there now but a local mech at the shop that I use for about anything that isn't bought on the internet really wanted it and kinda NEEDED it, as he has suffered a mild stroke and can't ride his BMW R100 anymore without something to help hold it up at a stop. I sold it to him for what it cost me and we both got it really cheap! The XS is about half the weight of the Honda and I still ride it just fine, soooo...bye bye......Just about got all the stuff to "JACK UP" the XS today. The cylinders go to the machinist tomorrow for the bore up and the head is all ready with new valves and Shel #1 cam from Hoos so along with my minor 'pocket port" job I am expecting a bit more oomph........Should be back together and riding by labor day or so at my rate.............
    TwoManyXS1Bs, delagem and GLJ like this.
  20. delagem

    delagem XS650 Addict

    A little bit more done. Pulled the sidecar tub for a bit of frame touch-up to the paint.

    [​IMG]IMG_1866 by michael delage, on Flickr

    Needed a windscreen for the sidecar. Gustaffsons Plastics, only $298 for the cheapest one, shipped! That's what the whole sidecar cost! (not really, but still...)

    Figured I'd take a try at making my own. I had the hardware for the stock screen, so I needed a piece of screen material 26" (guessing the stock screen is 650mm wide). Could have made it shorter and used a 24" width for only $9, but then the stock hardware wouldn't have worked. The bigger piece was $27 shipped, in a light bronze tint.

    These can be made out of Polycarbonate (Lexan) or Acrylic (Lucite). Lexan is more impact resistant, easier to work (less likely to crack when drilled), but scratches more easily and is more expensive. So I went with the Lexan.

    I made a template out of construction paper, mounted it, and Riley drew the shape he wanted.

    [​IMG]IMG_1870 by michael delage, on Flickr

    We transferred that to the Lexan. I did the big cuts on a table saw, and the curves using a scroll saw. Wood blade worked way better than the metal one I started with. Then some filing, and sanding on the edges.

    A lot of heating with a heat gun, while bending it, and I had the rough shape I need. Bolt holes had moved during the curving process, so I redid a few of them, slotted to allow for shifting.

    The curve didn't come out perfect, but it's useable. I had read of someone making the exact curve they needed out of plywood, lining it with felt, baking the polycarbonate above 240F, and then setting it on the mold to shape the curve. If I do this again, I'll take the time to do that instead. Or maybe find a bucket or something with the right shape to act as a mold. Honestly, it would have been faster than standing there in front of a heat gun, swaying back and forth, while bending the Lexan, and cursing every time I got my fingers too close to the heat...

    Happy enough with the results for now:

    [​IMG]IMG_1871 by michael delage, on Flickr

    This was the better, most helpful guide on the Velorex, including the only decent instructions on how the windshield gasket and hardware fit:


    The previous owner of this car had the parts all screwed up. It took me hours to find this guide and figure out how it should be assembled.

    [​IMG]Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 8.19.29 AM by michael delage, on Flickr
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    GLJ, TwoManyXS1Bs and Jim like this.

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