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new guy looking to go from stock to the cafe look

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by ambulancedriver, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. Hello everyone, my name's Grant. I recently have inherited a very nice stock mid 70's XS and I am looking to turn it into a weekend riding cafe bike. I am a "larger"rider at 5'11" and 220 lbs. For now I am not looking to do to many crazy mods like custom frame work or anything. I have a long history with modifying and working on anything with 4 wheels and an engine, so this is my first attempt a customizing two wheels. Below is a stock( found d on the internet) photo of the current stage of the bike and a photo of something close to what I want the finished product to look like( again found on the internet, so I apologize for not having better pictures. The bike is in dry storage until I finish moving. I appreciate anyone and everyone's ideas, critiques and general knowledge.

    Attached Files:

  2. jtrip72

    jtrip72 XS650 Addict

    Welcome to the forum.

    What do you mean when you say mid 70's? Do you know the year? Is it the same year as the one in the left picture?

    Your going to catch some shit if you want to cut on anything earlier than a '78 or '79.

    It's your bike so do what you want to it but be ready for differing opinions.
  3. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi Grant and welcome,
    you bike looks like the one the left and you want to change it to look like the one on the right?
    Building a solo bumstop onto your stock seat pan would be an OK DIY task or you could take the job to a reliable auto upholsterer's shop.
    Clip-on bars? You'll have to swap the stock "ears for aftermarket ones to install them.
    Carefully save the stock headlight "ears" for the change back when you realize that clip-ons are too low for comfort.
    Try lower straighter normally mounted bars first. Nice chrome take-offs ~$25 at any swapmeet.
    And some kinda mufflers. Not necessarily the stock chromed Zeppelins but somethin'
    Open drains sound nice but zero backpressure don't run nice.
  4. tonyc

    tonyc XS650 Guru

    Grant mine is a resto-mod with Euro-bars, re-sculptured seat, hydraulic clutch, and now has ex500 carbs.

    Attached Files:

  5. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Welcome to the clubhouse!

    Like others will say, if it is indeed an early 70's standard in good shape, the recommendation is to not cut it up...as there is a limited # of early, Good/stock bikes around. However, all these bikes are old, and better to be on the road in any condition than to be never used (my opinion).

    I am in the same camp in some ways, I like the customized cafe look and did exactly that...and I was deliberate in that I didn't do anything that wasn't reversible IF I ever want to go back to stock...however, I doubt I ever will.

    To do what you're looking to do, I recommend you plan out your look/build and the things you'll need to make it happen...take some time sourcing parts and if you are going to cut up anything (Seat pan, etc.) consider getting another used part/seat, etc. and using that to cut up vs. what yours has on it.

    For example I bought a used kicker to bend up vs. my stock one... and made my own seat pan vs. cutting up mine...it takes some time, but I think it made it unique and no one can say shit about the preservation of the original (Not that I care anyways)...but at least I could sell them off when/if the time comes.

    Anyways, good luck...post up your pics of the bike when you get it out and the year/model type, etc... I'm sure others will have an opinion. :)
  6. thank you all for the warm welcome. I am currently unaware of the exact year due to not having the physical bike at my house but the bike does look like the model I posted on the right. I believe it is a 73-76. I do not want to do anything that I can not undo also anything that comes off the bike is going to be packaged and stored in a dry/ climate controlled storage unit.
    On that note, I have been doing some research about the XS models specifically along with the written books on "how to build a cafe racer". I do plan on replacing things like, the handle bars( which i plan on starting with replacing the bars and NOT going with "clip on's", due to how far over you ride.)exhaust, rear suspension and seat).
    The issues that I have come up with so far that I am not completely understanding, and I assume once I get the bike physically here, it will make more sense, is the seat bracket. I want to either get or have a bumstop seat for the bike but I was thinking of shortening the overall length( which includes taking off the stock tail light and fender).
    The Tires are another area of question. I like the look( i know its pure personal opinion) of a larger tire in the back, so I am debating on swapping wheels to comstar wheels. the main question I have is that I have read it is bad to go change the ratio size difference between the front and rear wheels due to imbalance. Now I am unsure if this is just race specific or does it equate to road bikes also. In reference to the photo on the right that I posted, I am a fan of the tire sizes.
    Since the bike has not run in over 20 years, I have started acquiring the parts that i believe I will need to get it running, I.E. carb rebuild kits, battery and etc.

    again thank you all for your positive imput, I will be sure to post pictures and details when i receive them.
  7. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Sounds like you're doing some good research.

    The bike on the right is a special, the bike on the left is a standard model. Both are similar, and both are different from each other. The one on the right (Special) has a 19" front rim & 16" rear rim...whereas the one on the left (Standard) has a 19" front rim and 18" rear rim. In regards to tire sizes, it comes down to what you want in looks/handling. Parts from both models for the most part swap out pretty well...note: there are specific years where certain parts won't interchange, but for the most part you can get the one on the right to look more like the one on the left and vise versa to some extent.

    If you're bike is a standard (likely it is given the year range you provided), then you have a great set-up for the more aggressive stance the standard model provides...whereas the special model sits lower in the back, different (and shorter) shock locations, etc...so there's some work to do on that end if you're going to a more cafe/race stance.

    Personally, I find that the bike corners better and is in line with the cafe concept with thinner tires vs. the fatter wider tire in the back..but again, that's a preference thing.

    If you have a standard model and you do swap out your rims, I'm sure you could sell them quick. :)

    For seat...you will need to see what you're working with...and how much of a change you're interesting in making. I had mine made, and built a pan for it...but retained the hinges so I could keep the lock, etc...and it works well.

    Looking forward to seeing yours soon.
  8. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

    First pic is a 72XS2 and the second pic is an 80SG.

    A 72XS2 in good to great condition is a sort after model and is worth a penny or two, of course that is if a buyer is in the market when it is for sale.

    The early, 70XS1, 71XSF/B, 72XS2 and 73TX have the same frame, and what is commonly called the 256 Motor. This moter has different internals that were changed in 74 and continued till the end of production. early 256 motors are more expensive to rebuild.

    In 74 the frame was radically changed and even when the frame underwent some changes, in 78 for the Special models, the basic dimensions were the same so from 74-82 90% of the parts will interchange. There are a lot more specifics but you get the idea.

    Here is a link to the models and the differences and the frame differences are in there as well
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
  9. I am going out to the storage unit this week, so expect photos and details. I also happen to have a shop near me that "specializes" in cafe racers. I plan on going out and trying to pick. Their brain ,maybe getting the chance to get to see some bikes in person so that I can get answers to some of my questions or round out some ideas that I have.

    I can't thank you all enough for the warm welcome and great information that you have given.
  10. aldo5468

    aldo5468 Redleg XS650.com Supporter

    I always thought that this one was very well done - from the pic's, nothing that looks irreversible. This is a later Special, not a Standard. Peashooter mufflers give it quite a look!

    Attached Files:

  11. funky

    funky XS650 Junkie

    Hi I have just finished my cafe racer started in January. My bike was is a 1981 xs special the biggest problem i faced on my project was carbs and engine get that right first before anything else. Clean clean clean follow all the tech tips on this forums if you say you have experience in four wheel re builds then you should be fine.
    I had to have my engine re built it was too far gone for me to do. the carbs i did myself with the help of the chaps on this forums.

    Getting the cafe racer look is not a big problem on these bikes. Cramp on bars are possible but i opted for7/8inch Clubman bars as they utilize the bar mounts already on the top yoke.

    Exhaust can cause problems with jetting on the carbs so be careful of what you buy.
    also if you go for pod filters find a proven setup for your area of the world and go with that re jetting the carbs can be a pain in the ars.
    Electrics on these bike are not the best so getting a Pamco will pay dividends in hindsight a permanent magenitic alternator {PMA} with a pamco high voltage kit with an E advancer will eliminate any mechanical issues with part of setting up the timing.
    I still have the stock ATU on my bike but i bought a new one as the springs can weaken and this will effect things.
    there will always be something to upgrade or do but rebuilding these bikes is a labour of love and can be expensive.
    All that is left for me is to rebuild the front forks and then try and do the ton as they say 100MPH +
    best of luck all the best Funky
  12. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    I've been experiencing some of that lately.

    Been thinking about taking salt pills.
  13. 650mark

    650mark XS650 Enthusiast

    lots of ways to "café" your xs650. most look very nice if done with some care and the owner doesn't go to far with the changes, imho. I did just enough to mine to make it a little bit different from stock. lots of fun and gets lots of attention

    Attached Files:

  14. You know they have medication to take care of cramps, apparently very popular with the women. At least the TV tells me so.
  15. I really am leading towards the clubman bars, mainly because I do not want to learn over that far.:shrug: and for the exhaust. I. Have been meaning towards a two into one set up. I have read that you can have several issues with fitment and scraping on the turns but I see if you take the time and lose my fit it until its tight in there:thumbsup: it works out good.

    And like I said before I don't plan on doing anything cosmetic thatcant be reversed because this bike was my uncle's(he bought it brand new). I did find a motorcycle shop fairly close to. Me so I can get a seat and seat mount to modify so as I can keep the original one.
  16. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    For what it's worth, clubmans are just about as low as clipons... but less work to get them to work. Simply take off the old ones, and clamp down the clubmans. However, not knowing what bike you have, and which handlebars are on there...if you go clubman (or clip ons), you might need new cables (shorter) to work with the shortened distance those bars will be at from their current location. At a minimum you're looking at clutch cable, throttle cable, and brake line from master cylinder to the junction box...and in that case, you might as well go with a stainless steel line directly to the caliper...likely the brake lines are old anyways and need to be replaced. It's not expensive, but you should be prepared for those needs.
  17. Thank you very much. I had not of even thought of those needing to be shortened, I am sure I would have figured it out when I mounted the bars. Now do I have to custom source the shortened cables or is there a standard shortened cables to purchase from a retailer?

    Thank you all so much for all this great info!!!!
  18. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    I started with huge rototiller bars on mine, so I had to go shorter.

    For the throttle and clutch cables, I simply bought the "standard" length from Mikesxs (https://www.mikesxs.net/) for my corresponding model year and they actually worked. I did have to re-route them a little as they were still a tad long, but not by much. (I just switched them to the other side of the frame, etc.) If you have a standard model, you may not need to get new cables, just a quick re-route so the length is taken up some, and you should be good to go.

    For the brake line, I went to my local bike parts and found a cable at the length that I needed and with the correct angles to the banjo fittings, I think it came from a Suzuki if I recall. The hardest part was to make sure that the fittings matched the angle on caliper/Master cylinder... I didn't want to deal with crimping my own (Like from a kit).
  19. payaso13

    payaso13 1978xs650

    20150809_162124.jpg I have a 78...pamco ignition hhb pma...drag bars...different headlight. .lowered forks and rear..speedo only...bar end mirrors. .some rewiring. ..but everything I did isn't extreme. ..so I kept all original parts and could go back that way if necessary.o yeah..still haven't shortened speedo cable. ..that's stock length.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  20. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Somebody's been handing out 'cramp' pills.
    Best pickup line I've heard in months.

    Here's gggGary's thread on rerouting long cables:


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