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Newbie needs your help

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by 007sparky, May 2, 2014.

  1. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Hi chaps , first day on this forum but thought can't be a better way to get the info I need than off guys who have been there and got the t shirt .
    Anyway I'm about to buy a xs650 to convert to the much repeated flack tracker but my question is will a 1979 special be suitable ? I know the rear wheel is smaller but my concern is more that I read the rear shock mounts are located differently for a lower stance on the special ?
    If this is the case is the special not suitable to flat tracker and would I need a standard model ?
    I need it to be simple and don't want to be swapping swing arms or anything , also want wire wheels and helpful to know if wire wheels will be a direct swap for mags ?
  2. Sparky

    Sparky XS650 Addict

    Welcome aboard, sir. Nice name. :thumbsup:
    I cant answer all that, but heres what i do know. The term "flat tracker", just like bobber or chopper or streetfighter, is just a vague idea. If you think your bike looks okay with a 16" rear wheel, then by all means run it. As far as i know, the overall tire diameter is the same, or close enough. Thats really just a question of looks. do you want a fat tire, small rim, or skinny tire, tall rim?

    Shock mounts shouldn't matter, just get shocks that are the length you want for the ride height you want.

    Wire wheels and mags for the most part are swappable. make sure your donor wheels are the same disc/drum combo that your bike has. Also, swapping a swingarm isnt too much work.

    I'm gonna say that first you need to find a bike, make it run reliably, then start looking at how to customize it. have you dont this sort of thing before?
  3. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Yeah I'm not new to bikes but I am to the xs , I have a bike to look at which is a 1979 special and it's pretty tidy , all the xs seem to be fetching big money on eBay as everybody has the same idea to build one into something else.
    I appreciate your reply sparky and as I say if I can get enough confirmation that the shock mounts ain't really much different then I will buy this special I have been offered , if a tracker requires a standard model then I will wait for a standard to come along .
    I read on Omar's site that a 2nd generation frame is the one go for and I'm unsure why this is ?
  4. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Take a look at Omar's page and he specifies certain years of bike are best and just wanted more clarification why and as the one I maybe buying is recommended by Omar is this a go for build ? Anyone out there got a special they have turned into a flat tracker ?
  5. weekendrider

    weekendrider Iron Horse cowboy Top Contributor

    S.W. MO
    Maybe a picture will help.
    The two on the left, standards, the right, specials.

    I've always thought you would/should pick your frame according to the desired results.
    For a tracker you would want a look that lifts the frame off the tire?
    A bobber, one that lowers it to the tire?
    Or gives that illusion.
    Depending on how you intend to actually ride it determines how "far" the look would go.
    13.5 inch shocks vs 10.5 inch.
  6. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi 007,
    is that the real Liverpool or one of the ~dozen US ones?
    If you are keeping it off the cinders and want the flattracker look on a streetbike whatever XS650 you can find for a bargain will work for you.
    The 16" rear + it's 5" tire width means it has eff nigh the same O.D. as the 18" rear + it's 4" wide tire.
    There are no XS650 disk rear wire wheels that I'm aware of so swapping to wire wheels means converting to a rear drum brake.
    You don't need to swap in a drum brake swingarm (although that's easy enough to do) but you will need to pull the one you have to weld on the different brake torque stay bracket (that you will need to DIY) the drum brake needs.
    Well, that's what we did so that bike now has a dual-use swingarm.
    I suppose you could DIY a 2-piece bolt-on torque stay bracket instead?
    Just remove the rear brake hydraulics and install the drum brake inner pedal arm & pull rod.
    XS650 wire wheels will drop straight into a cast wheel bike except the nice ones with the deep groove aluminum rims will need a later model one piece front disk because it's 2-piece disk has the wrong dish depth for the later caliper.
  7. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    As per your name I'm only a week end rider , don't intend to race just want an awesome looking machine , prefer the higher look in this case but is it not possible to put a longer suspension set up on the rear of a special to get same effect ? , the 19 inch rear will be fitted with a fatter tyre
  8. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Hi fred cheers for the reply , yes it's the real Liverpool as per rear of the Titanic , and as you now mention the wire wheels issue I'm considering going for a standard first as last but seems to be that at the moment in the UK that mostly specials are available and whatever is available is expensive
  9. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi 007,
    longer shocks will work to lift the bike's arse. It'll also quicken the steering and on a tracker that's a good thing.
    But if you want a 19" rear you won't find an XS650 one, XS650 rears are either 16" or 18".
    You will have to re-lace an XS650 wire wheel rear hub into an aftermarket 19" rim.
  10. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Omar does a kit I've read that means you can use a front wheel and fit it to the rear , I gather this helps performance or is it purely for the look ?
  11. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi 007,
    after a tracker conversion the only visible difference will be the Special's more forward leaning shock angle.
    Look for a good engine and a straight frame, the rest of it will end up in your parts swap pile anyway.
    While as you say, any UK XS650 is expensive, early Standards are expensive compared to that and quite collectable too.
    Should you find one that the seller don't know what it's worth, best you keep it for resale and trackerize one that costs less.
  12. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Cheers fred for the great advice , will see if I can get the special for cheap if not will hold out for a standard . There's a special going for £1600 after shipping that like nearly $3000 its in great shape apparently , out of interest what are you paying ? You in the states ?
  13. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Hi 007,
    thanks for posting the Omar's site link, some good stuff there.
    You should buy Omar's tracker build book before you buy parts or cut metal.
    I fell in love with Omar's leftside running high pipes, not that I'm contemplating building a street tracker but what a boon for someone who's planning to attach a right-hand sidecar!
    With no exhaust pipe in the way the sidecar attachment subframe could be run high enough to avoid making those ugly annoying stepdown adapters (these are on an XS750 Special):-


    and go straight across instead.
    Too late for me but I pass the idea on FWIW to anyone thinking about adding a chair.
    But about the 19" front into rear wheel adaptation, unless you are racing the bike, it's all about looks and I doubt the average street rider would find too much difference in the bike's handling.
  14. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Yeah I'm no racer more a poser , I like the idea of talon hubs and excel rims on the tracker I think these look rather special , would take done fettling no doubt regards brakes and chain alignment
  15. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

    Standard frame; 74TX650A to 79F.
    This is the most desirable frame for a Cafe.

    Special frame; 78SE to 83 Heritage Special including the US Custom 79/80/81. 2nd most desirable frame for a cafe and the only difference is the mounting point for the shocks.

    The best visual difference between the 2 frames is to look at the rear peg mounts. This is the best way to determine between the 2 frames.

    70-71; 36 Spoke hubs and steel rims. 19"Front drum brake/18" rear drum brake

    72-73: 36 spoke hubs and steel rims 19' front disk brake/18" rear drum brake

    74-79 Standard; 36 spoke hubs with alloy shouldered rims, (mud catchers), 19" front disk brake/18" rear drum brake

    78SE/79SF/80SG, Specials; Alloy mag wheels. 19' front disk brake/16" rear disk brake

    79/80 or 81US custom; Alloy mag wheels, 19" front disk brake/16" rear disk brake

    79 Special ll; 36 spoke hubs with alloy rims, non shouldered, 19" front disk brake/16" rear drum brake........... The 79 Alloy rims 19"/16" are are for this one year one model only

    80G Special II/8H Special ll; 36 spoke hubs with steel rims. 19" front disk brake/16" rear drum brake

    81 Special; alloy mag wheels, 19" front disk brake/16" rear drum brake.........The drum mag rear was a one year only US bike.
    The Canadian 83 heritage Special also has the drum rear brake Mag

    82-83 Heritage Specials; 64/48 spoke hubs with steel rims, 19" front disk brake/16" rear drum brake.

    The bikes highlighted in red are the only ones to have a disk brake rear wheel, (Mag),

    To convert from a rear disk brake to a rear drum disk brake requires welding a tab on the bottom of the swing arm to accommodate the brake stay for the drum brake plate.

    The brake lever pin also has to be changed from a disk type to a drum type. probably the hardest thing to find because it is a specific part.

    CAUTION:The 77D-79F Euro Standards with the 35mm front forks had a twin disk front brake set up, now these bikes had the smaller rotors and because of this the caliper mounts were lower on fork legs than the US, 77D and later 35mm forks.
  16. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    Why thank you skull for an in depth insight regards frames versus wheels , I'm definitely after wire wheels for mine , ideally talon hubs with excel rims but I fear some machining will be needed at some point
  17. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

    The reasoning behind changing the rear wheel to match the front, or front to match the rear, is it shifts the weight slightly forward so the extra weight on the front wheel gives the steering more response.

    A Special frame with a longer shock will bring the measurements up to the same as a standard frame
  18. 007sparky

    007sparky XS650 Enthusiast

    So are the shock lengths the only difference between standard and special or are the shock mounts in a different location ?
  19. 650Skull

    650Skull Dinosaur Lives Top Contributor

    Shock mounts are different.

    The drawings show the Special frame shock mounts 46mm more foward and 20mm lower on the frame compared to the Standard frame

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