81 XS650 hard tail build thread

miketweedie

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Like many, I am building up a project and in lieu of asking multiple questions in multiple posts, I figured it is easiest to have a single thread.

Basic story, I wanted to build one of these for years and finally had one fall into my lap. I'm aware that cutting up a good bike would be unnecessary, but don't fret, this one came to me pre-cut, in hundreds of pieces, shrink wrapped to a pallet. The bike was originally an '81 special (I think), and like all of these projects it was "running fine when I took it apart". I don't have any real information as to when that was, but best guess was pre-2005. Based on the cracked tires, dry fork seals and rust/dust, that might be an optimistic guess.

I am not a mechanic, nor do I have a proper shop. I have built several vintage VW's over the years, and more recently a Buell cafe racer, all in my home garage with basic tools. I have a full time job, and a part-time consulting job, so the progress is painfully slow. Further, while I have spent some time riding motocross over the years, I do not actually have a motorcycle license and I have never owned a functioning bike. This is purely an exercise of me wanting to build something.

If you're looking for a fast-paced build with lots of great information, this is likely not the thread for you!
I'll post pics as I go along, and I'll have tons of questions. This forum has been a huge asset already, and I sincerely appreciate all of the good advice offered.

Stay tuned, this should be interesting...
 

miketweedie

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Here is how it arrived. there were 4 boxes of parts, the tail is tacked in place, nothing is labelled and he included some parts like a new tank and some bars. everything else is literally just stuffed into boxes.

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miketweedie

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Finished welding the rear end, got the wheels on, and gave it some fresh oil and plugs. Pulled the float bowls and gave the carbs a very basic cleaning. They were much better than expected. I snagged a different tank from Lowbrow, filled it up with some clean gas. After sorting out the basic wiring mess, I hooked it up to power and gave it a shot. Pleasantly surprised! (not sure if the audio works, sorry)

AIxtABV.mp4
 

miketweedie

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Since then I've procured a bunch of parts including a solo seat, some riserless bars, a disc brake rear wheel, and a different exhaust, none of which are shown. next steps are foot controls, shave/lower the forks, figure out what wheels I want to run, tires, etc.
basic plan is a low, short chop with some spoked wheels and a funny paint job. It is hard to say if I will ever ride it, so it will be significantly more aesthetic than functional. At this time I'll be keeping the stock ignition etc. as reliability simply isn't a concern. If I can convince the better half, it will most likely end up in our living room.

More to come, slowly. I also have the buell to finish and a '59 beetle project.

XS pic.jpg
 

miketweedie

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A disc brake rear could make finding a spoke rim to go with it an interesting challenge.

Based on what I have heard (Thanks RustiePyles and others), it's fairly straight-forward to swap bearings on a HD wheel to make it work. I pulled the bearing specs on a basic lowbrow 21" spool and took them to my local bearing supplier. They have a replacement in stock that has the correct imperial OD with a metric ID, and the width is within spec. They are $11 each.

Spacers are easy enough to make, and there are sprockets out there. The brake setup would be infinitely easier using HD parts. There is also the option to convert to a HD front end, if all else fails, but that's just another expense I would rather avoid.

The mag wheels look good, but I am stuck on the idea that I want a 21" front which is a hang-up. I've seen 21" HD mags that are similar, but it won't be an actual match. If anyone has a suggestion there, I am all ears.
 

RustiePyles

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Based on what I have heard (Thanks RustiePyles and others), it's fairly straight-forward to swap bearings on a HD wheel to make it work. I pulled the bearing specs on a basic lowbrow 21" spool and took them to my local bearing supplier. They have a replacement in stock that has the correct imperial OD with a metric ID, and the width is within spec. They are $11 each.

Spacers are easy enough to make, and there are sprockets out there. The brake setup would be infinitely easier using HD parts. There is also the option to convert to a HD front end, if all else fails, but that's just another expense I would rather avoid.

The mag wheels look good, but I am stuck on the idea that I want a 21" front which is a hang-up. I've seen 21" HD mags that are similar, but it won't be an actual match. If anyone has a suggestion there, I am all ears.
Getting a 21" front wheel mounted up in an XS front end is pretty straightforward, getting the brakes to match up is a different ball game. Lot of guys just forgo a front brake, which is inadvisable. If you're dead set on a 21" rim you're better off lacing one to an XS hub or swapping in a Sporty front end with 35mm tubes.
 
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miketweedie

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Getting a 21" front wheel mounted up in an XS front end is pretty straightforward, getting the brakes to match up is a different ball game. Lot of guys just forgo a front brake, which is inadvisable. If you're dead set on a 21" rim you're better off lacing one to an XS hub or swapping in a Sporty front end with 35mm tubes.
Yeah, plan is to ditch the front brake and shave the forks. I know it's highly unsafe, but again this won't be a daily machine.
 

miketweedie

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Spent some time over the weekend cleaning up the forks. Shaved the tabs and got them lowered with a Hugh's kit. They're off to the lathe this week for proper smoothing out, and then I can rebuild them. Man, I wish welding was as easy as grinding, haha.
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Also may have made another poor financial decision...
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