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" Made that there myself..." Bobber Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MadeThatMyself, May 8, 2019.

  1. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    DISCLAIMER: Armed with a bottom of the barrel flux core welder and a dream, I scavenged Craigslist to find an XS650 bobber project for my first motorcycle build. This is my story....

    Picked this baby up for $1500 cold hard american cash. PO had it running (barely) but it was in need of a ton of work/finishing. It was love at first site.

    PO did have SOME good taste. The TC bros hard tail was my plan from the start, so having one already welded on was a plus other than the fact that the welds looked like I could have done it (which isn't saying much). Tank looked like an aftermarket Sportster style tank which I liked.

    The first thing that had to go was the $20 eBay "bobber seat kit". It sat way too high in the front and I had a special plan for the seat from the start as well...

    I had an old Fox Vanilla R downhill mountain bike shock laying around the garage and always thought that would make a nice monoshock hardtail bobber suspension seat, so I found some rectangular steel tubing with the proper ID and came up with this design. I used oil embedded bronze bushings with shoulder bolts at the pivot points.

    After mocking it up and sitting on it, I realized that I had too much leverage based on the upper mounting point. To correct that, I modified the bracket and moved the pivot point backwards. I also picked up a stiffer spring (650# I think?) off eBay. The old spring was 450# and had already been used and abused on the mountain bike. The new geometry and spring worked out perfectly. I got the seat from a company called La Rosa Design. I was really impressed with the quality of the seat for $50. It's not leather, but the seat pan was high quality, black powder coated steel. This was a 13 inch solo seat I believe, but they sell all kinds of seats with different sizes/designs/materials.


    I picked up some internally threaded ball joint rod ends as well as a Clevis rod end on McMaster Carr. Used some threaded rod and steel tubing to fabricate a brake stay and brake rod. Worked out pretty nicely.

    How have other people gotten the brake rod to clear the hard tail frame and not rub? I ended up using a through bolt with 2 nylock nuts to mount the rod end to the inside outer face of the drum brake actuator arm. I'm not sold on this as a final design, but this can be modified later if I can come up with something better.

    I had a YT12B-BS Yuasa battery in the garage that I bought for my Ducati Monster when I thought the battery was bad. Turned out to be the charging system, not the battery itself, so I figured I would use it for this kickstart only bobber build. I welded up a battery box and picked up a battery strap for a Harley from a local motorcycle shop. I used a couple latch catches I had laying around at work for the strap mounts. I drilled and countersunk the back of the steel before I welded it up so the inside is flush. I also cut a rubber battery box liner out of some 0.063" mat I had laying around.

    I will continue to update by posting chunks of progress. Thanks for checking out my build!
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
    gggGary, MrBultaco and Jim like this.
  2. Downeaster

    Downeaster Everything in XS Top Contributor

    Not seeing any of your pictures.

    We LIKE pictures here...:bike:
    Jim likes this.
  3. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    Hopefully it is fixed now. Someone please confirm before I add too many more progress posts!
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
    gggGary and Jim like this.
  4. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    The stock kickstand was too tall. I thought about buying a weld on, but eventually decided to try and make something custom. I started by cutting the stock side stand in half.

    Then I center punched the cut face on the upper half and drilled out the center with a 1/2" bit. This was a little tricky without having a proper way to fixture the kickstand piece.

    I bought a piece of solid 1/2" steel rod from home depot which slid perfectly into my drilled hole. I then mounted the drilled kickstand piece on the bike so I could figure out the lean angle and distance to the pavement.

    After that I used my mapp gas torch to heat and bend the metal where I wanted it. I left the "distance to ground measurement a little long to start so I could cut it down and check it a little at a time. Once I got it where I wanted it, I welded the 2 pieces together and ground down the welds. Then I added a small tab to mount the spring. I ordered a new spring, upper spring mount and hardware from MikeXS and was pleased with the quality. Still needs a little clean up work, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

  5. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    My stock gauges were pretty beat and bulky so I opted to spring for some Dime City Cycles mini gauges in black. I love the look of these things and a buddy of mine had them on his XS400 cafe racer. They came highly recommended.

    I picked up a set of drag bars from TC bros and love the look, but the controls now tap my tank before the triple trees hit the stop. I'm going to need to do something about that. Any suggestions? I also picked up a new front brake lever, clutch lever, Biltwell grips and some convex bar end mirrors. The riding position feels good on the bike lift. Comfortable but slightly aggressive...

    I am excited to finally try out some products from Purpose Built Moto in Gold Coast, Australia. I've been following the growth of Tom's business for a while now and he makes some killer products. I picked up his hollow tip 3 in 1 red tail/red brake/amber turn signals for this build because they are compact, multifunction and SUPER bright. While I wanted my lighting to be minimal in sizes, I still want to be seen...


    For the front turn signals, I opted for some Morimoto Pindicators. They are a bright white LED running light with an Amber turn signal. I have a pair of Morimoto bar end turn signals on my Ducati and love the look and quality of the components. Morimoto makes awesome LED products for motorcycles and cars/trucks.

    My exhaust headers came hacked off from the PO. I've been on the fence about what to do with the exhaust but in the meantime, I found some stupid cheap chrome 90° turn down exhaust tips on eBay that fit over the stock header pipe PERFECTLY. I'm probably going to cut a slot in the back side and add an exhaust clamp to make sure they clamp onto the headers. They really cleaned up the finish on the ends of the headers. I am planning to install black header wrap once the bike has been painted and put back together. Should be a nice contrast to the chrome tips, especially once I get some of the aluminum covers polished....


    If the listing is no longer active when you find this posting, search for JTD112 from seller "BearRiverConverters"

    gggGary, MrBultaco and Jim like this.
  6. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    My fab work was nearing completion, so it was time to finally get into the meat and potatoes of this project...the motor rebuild. The bike ran when I got it, but not great. I compression tested the cylinders and was getting around 90 PSI, so I decided to tear down and most likely bore/hone.

    Picked up the engine stand from TC bros and it seemed to work pretty well. Getting the bolts and holes lined up to mount it was a bit of a bear. The engine was heavier than I envisioned. Luckily my brother came over to drink beers and hang out so I had some extra muscle.

    Tear down was a breeze (surprisingly). Bagged and tagged all the bolts/components as they came off so re-assembly will hopefully go just as smooth. As expected based on typical problems, the front cam chain guide was chipped and delaminating in spots, so that will need to be replaced. I'm going to do the cam chain as well while I've got it apart based on the recommendation of our trusted peers and the "false economy" of letting it ride. The bike has 30K miles of undocumented (lack of) maintenance, so I'd rather have peace of mind. The rear tensioner guide has some grooves, but the forum members have spoken on this one and said I should let it ride over the MikesXS alternative.

    Ran into some stubborn gaskets and got some great recommendations on the forum for using paint stripper to soften the gaskets and then carefully scrape. My weapons of choice seemed to work out pretty well...

  7. Downeaster

    Downeaster Everything in XS Top Contributor

    Nice work!

    On the issue of interference between bars/controls and the tank, can you use some taller standoffs and raise the handlebars enough to clear without it looking dorky or messing up the ergonomics?
    madmax-im likes this.
  8. mrtwowheel

    mrtwowheel Honda Etched On Brain Top Contributor

    I did a similar rear brake like yours but with a pull rod close to the stock size. I still had close or touching clearance at the frame. I bent the arm closer to the drum to make more clearance. The arm bent easily and clearance is good now.

  9. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    cool work,

    :agree: Heat, bend the brake arm to create clearance, straight path. I'd like to see a fork type connection tween the arm and pull rod. Lots of adjustment needed there.
  10. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    Downeaster- I looked into getting some risers, but I couldn't seem to find anything that I liked or didn't look like a low quality part. I am also a little worried about not being able to see my gauges if I add the risers. They would be right in the middle of each gauge. I thought about maybe just reducing my turning radius and adding some metal to the stops, but I'm not sure I want to go that route though either.

    Another option I am considering is a different style of bars. Found these short Frisco style bars from a seller on eBay. I like that they don't have too much of a rise like most of the other Frisco and Z bars I have seen. Pullback is minimal as well so they would give a similar look to the drag bars. Maybe I'll throw the drags on my Ducati...

    As far as the brake rod/actuator clearance issue goes, here are some more pictures of the current set up. It looked like the PO had tried to heat and bend to no avail, so I didn't try. I put a nylock nut inside of the actuator gap and it fit almost perfectly in there. I tightened this down on the actuator arm creating a mounting stud that sticks out on the wheel side. I then slid the ball joint rod end onto the stud and tightened that down with a second nylock nut. The ball joint rotates, so I was able to clamp everything down tight and still have the movement needed with the brake pedal. My adjustment comes from the threaded rod. I am able to move the rod end and the clevis in and out to get it where it needs to be. I have jam nuts on the threaded rod to lock the ends and the steel cover tube

    The rear brake switch/brake rod mount is temporary so I could figure out where to weld a tab to secure the spring. As is, I probably only have about 3/32" of clearance with the frame, but there is no rubbing. If I try to heat and bend, I am worried that the bends might not look great. I am surprised no one is manufacturing a replacement actuator arm for hardtails. I would think most people are having this same issue.

    MaxPete likes this.
  11. lo-rider

    lo-rider XS650 New Member

    Hope you will reject the first option.
    gggGary likes this.
  12. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi MadeThat,
    you've done some nice work on your bargain but you may have bought some of the PO's problems too.
    The rear axle has been put in backwards. That'd trigger me into checking the rear wheel's alignment.
    Running a chain at an angle works OK on an 18 speed bicycle but on a #530 motorcycle chain, not so much.
    Thus the rear sprocket MUST line up with the transmission sprocket.
    If the alignment ain't right, that may also be causing the brake rod problem.
    Me, I'd rework the brake actuator arm so it's end forked over the brake rod's Heim joint instead of bolting to one side.
    gggGary likes this.
  13. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    get that brake arm cherry red and adjust for best fit.
  14. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    Thanks for the heads up Fred. I haven't gotten into investigating the rear axle/sprocket alignment yet, but the abundance of large washers on the axle made me assume I was going to have to make some changes. Good to know that it is in backwards. PO installed a plate holder on the opposite side. Maybe that had something to do with it? I'll have to check it out.

    Visually the sprockets seemed to be aligned before I removed the engine. I am planning to powder coat or paint the rims/hubs so the wheels will be coming out soon anyways. Is there a method to measuring the sprocket alignment? I have a Haynes manual I can consult.

    Sounds like I might want to hold off on making any changes/bends to the actuator arm until I have the rear wheel spacing sorted. Luckily that can all be done during the final mock up once everything has been painted.
    MaxPete and gggGary like this.
  15. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi MadeThat,
    clip a thin straightedge to the rear sprocket and eyeball down it to check sprocket alignment.
    Adjust the chain tensioners to assure the sprockets are parallel.
    Hardtails are sometimes built wide to fit a fashionably oversize rear tire so the rear axle may not be a backwards stocker but an over-length orphan.
    What size rear tire will you run?
    Anything wider than a 130 (5") will need a spacer behind the rear sprocket and a matching offset transmission sprocket so the chain will clear the tire sidewall.
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  16. MadeThatMyself

    MadeThatMyself XS650 Enthusiast

    I was planning on sticking with the 130/90 size that is already on the rim, specifically for the reason you listed. I think any wider than that would start to look weird with the 100/90 front tire anyway. I think the tire size looks appropriate as is for the look of the build I am going for.

    Speaking of tires- I am looking at a set of Kenda K671s. They seem to be reasonably priced and have decent reviews. Anyone have any experience with these?



    Is anyone running a dual sport type tire? I love the look of those, but couldn't really find any options in the 130/90-16 and 100/90-19 combo I need.
  17. mrtwowheel

    mrtwowheel Honda Etched On Brain Top Contributor

    I put my axle in backwards too, no problem with alignment that way, just wanted to be different and do it the Honda way. You could custom cut a straight edge to check the sprocket alignment, I just use a piece of nylon builders string. I hold the string against the front part of the front sprocket, above the nut, then pull the string tight and slide the string over till it just touches the rear of the front sprocket. This gives me a straight line to the rear sprocket to see if the two sprockets are aligned, who needs lasers? Plumb bobs and strings have built things with precision for thousands of years.

    I bent my brake arm cold, no problem. Sometimes you gotta tell yourself that you do have another chance if something doesn't work, that's hard for me to do.

    Last edited: May 9, 2019
    gggGary and MadeThatMyself like this.
  18. lo-rider

    lo-rider XS650 New Member

    Actually that won't tell you if they are coplanar, only that the rear sprocket points towards the drive sprocket.
  19. gggGary

    gggGary I'm listening, change my mind XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I clamped longish 1" steel rulers to front and rear sprockets while fitting spacers to my GS1000 rear wheel conversion. Get them to line up and you are well within chain alignment specs, about 4000 miles so far, the rear sprocket is aluminum and would quickly show any alignment issues.
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
    59Tebo, TwoManyXS1Bs and GLJ like this.
  20. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi lo-rider and welcome,
    coplanar eh? Gotta remember that word, it replaces the four I'd use.
    No! Not those! I'd use "In the same plane".
    I didn't say you wouldn't have to squint down the straightedge real careful
    and a single turn on one chain adjuster would rotate the rear sprocket out of alignment.

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