Ever inherited a project? Yeah, me too. 75 XS650 Frankenbuild. Brat? Tracker? What?

Buzz, loving your work on this bike. I'm interested in your braided nylon tubing you used for your wiring. I have been eyeing some materials like this for my upcoming re-wire. Can you post any pics of your wiring or product review where you got it from? I know you mentioned it was a real pain to install. Any tips to make this easier?

Thanks! I appreciate the kind words.

I used a couple different braided wire sheaths

As far as it being a pain to install, my answer is yes - really because it's just super tedious. The stuff expands pretty well in order to slip wires through it, but once you heat the end to reduce fraying during install, that end becomes less flexible and you end up fraying the ends anyway. Luckily, standard practice is to put heat shrink over the ends in order to prevent the sleeve from migrating, as well as to stop the fraying. It's hard to heat up the end of the sleeve once wires are installed for obvious reasons!

A couple tips:

  1. Start by sticking the wire (or bundle thereof) into the sleeve as far as you can push it before the sleeve starts to resist you, then pinch the end of the wire(s) that you've already pushed through the sleeve. While holding them in place, squeeze the sleeve further down and push the sleeve up the wire(s), which sorta balloons the sleeve. Think: sausage casing - dunno how else to describe it. Once you've got a good "balloon" of sleeve, let go with your first pinch, keep holding onto your second, and the sleeve should rapidly contract and therefore shoot further up the wire(s). Repeat this until you get to the end of the sleeve, or the end of the wires.
  2. I strongly suggest using adhesive-lined heat shrink tubing, as it stays in place WAY better and doesn't let the sleeve slide up and down your wire(s) -- this is crucial, actually!

Hope this helps!
I posted a couple earlier from the 1979 GS750E I rebuilt for my buddy, and I wish I had more from the various projects I've had through the years, but unfortunately I don't have as many pics as I'd like.

I've actually built more cars, jeeps, and custom bicycles than anything else - same skill set applies.

I appreciate what I perceive as some recognition that I'm doing a decent job on this bike, and I'd just say that more than deep experience building bikes, I have a project and program management background that lends itself to making stuff like this successful. In other words, I feel like a big aspect is planning and research so that guesswork along the way isn't as prevalent. This helps plan for anticipated bumps in the road, and helps manage my own expectations.

Plan the work, work the plan.
Excellent info on the braided sheath. Were the 1/4 and 1/8 sizes sufficient for everything? I know you are using the M-unit which greatly reduces the amount of wires, but is there enough expansion in the 1/4" to handle a decent amount of wires?
Excellent info on the braided sheath. Were the 1/4 and 1/8 sizes sufficient for everything? I know you are using the M-unit which greatly reduces the amount of wires, but is there enough expansion in the 1/4" to handle a decent amount of wires?

Per your question about how many wires can go in each size, I'd confidently say that it depends. The wiring kit I ordered was all 16 AWG, but the jacket diameters were different across several colors. The thicker-jacketed wires fit fine individually within a 1/8" sleeve, but two of them in a sleeve that size would be a challenge.

I actually used several different diameters, and made connections under the rear fender, in the electrical box, and in the reinforced area behind the neck/in front of the coil - hope this helps:

  • 1/8 -- Motogadget signal wire from bars, Pamco wire to coil + ground, rear brake switch, rear signals to under fender, trigger wire from Motogadget to starter solenoid
  • 1/4 -- Front turn signal wires from fork into neck, rear signal wires from under fender to electrical box, pos + neg from reg/rec to battery pos + ground, fused power to Motogadget from battery + rear brake switch (doubled sleeve here -- 1/8" each inside of 1/4" overall)
  • 1/2 -- Main bundle (5 wires) from electrical box to neck (headlight hi + lo, turn signals l + r, coil power)

Hope this makes sense - there are a few instances where I sleeved a wire, then bundled it with another one inside a larger diameter sleeve just to reduce the individual wires running here and there. Turned out pretty clean - there's a few things I'd probably change if I were to do it again, and I may still since I have lots left over, but my main priority now is getting it running and driving.
Thanks again, I'll be watching your progress. I really appreciate your attention to detail. you've done some amazing work with the basic garage tools. I am in the similar boat and can only hope my project turns out as well as yours is.
Thanks again, I'll be watching your progress. I really appreciate your attention to detail. you've done some amazing work with the basic garage tools. I am in the similar boat and can only hope my project turns out as well as yours is.

Wow - thank you for your kind words! Like I said earlier, a project management mindset goes a long way.

Got the new 304 stainless electronics tray that my brother-in-law made me swapped in. It fits like a glove! I had to drill all the holes and do some finish work on it, but holy moly -- that is the hardest steel I've ever had to work with! I dulled a whole mess of really nice drill bits getting it finished.


As an aside, if any of you are interested in one of these, let me know -- he said he can make more pretty easily, and I think the price would be compelling compared to what's on the market currently.

I have this mockup one still if anyone wants it - dunno why you would, but if any of you are interested I'll just send it to you for the cost of postage - probably <$10 in the lower 48.


Took a terrible timed selfie with my phone to see if the riding position makes sense. Is actually quite comfy and upright - exactly what I was hoping for!


You can kinda see how cleared out the portion below the seat is - I'm pretty thrilled with how this turned out. The battery looks kinda cool hanging in space, though this picture doesn't show it at all. I think I am going to try and come up with some kinda low-drag fender for the rear too - maybe a hugger? I dunno yet.

Next steps:

  1. Drain oil + change right side engine cover.
  2. Figure out why the clutch won't disengage. Worm and cable are both routed/positioned correctly, and lubricated thoroughly. I suspect the plates are stuck together a bit from not riding, so when I pull the right side cover, I should be able to get some insight. Doing the hold the clutch while kicking the bike over didn't work to free it up. Even with the clutch worm/cable adjusted tighter than it should be, it won't disengage. Also going to shorten the inner cable on the super flexy strong clutch cable from Mike Morse and install that instead of the stock one.
  3. Swap brake hoses back in front of the fork leg. I switched them to run behind the fork last night, and it didn't really accomplish the visual upgrade I was hoping it would. In fact, I think it's worse.
  4. Swap bars - not super high priority. It's really an aesthetic thing since I scratched the crap out of the bars during mockup. I am kinda dreading it since it took several hours to do the internal wiring cleanly.
  5. Swap shocks - ordered some 350mm length Hagons from Dave Quinn this week which should be here in a few days.
  6. Turns out CHP requires a horn for inspection. Guess I'll rig one up.

Getting there...
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...Got the new 304 stainless electronics tray that my brother-in-law made me swapped in. It fits like a glove! I had to drill all the holes and do some finish work on it, but holy moly -- that is the hardest steel I've ever had to work with! I dulled a whole mess of really nice drill bits getting it finished...

Yep, tough stuff. My can of cutting oil has this in bold lettering:

"Drill 304 stainless with a dull bit"

So, your dulled bits are ready to go...
Made some headway today - chiefly, got the right side cover swapped out and the oil changed. Some in-progress and finished pics:





The beer is from my favorite local brewery - Sante Adairius - and it's a tart Berliner Weisse. So refreshing, and only 4% so a 750mL bottle goes down nicely in the afternoon. Enough about beer, though it's another obsessive hobby of mine...

And, I think I figured out at least part of the clutch disengagement problem. Once I had drained the oil and taken the right side cover off, it was clear the clutch plates were all free and in good condition. This motor only has ~2500 original miles on it. Have I mentioned that before? Anyway, I measured the clutch separation at something like 1.5mm, which seemed awfully small, but I'm also not an expert as this is my first XS.

I suspected the GSX-R clutch lever I'm using wasn't pulling enough cable, but even with the cable and worm drastically over-tightened, I could NOT get the clutch to disengage! The pull ratio from this lever may still be off a bit - but I digress. I also thought maybe the 5/16 ball was missing from between the two clutch rods, but nope - it's there too.

I took the left side cover off as well, which drives me bananas. Once I have something installed, I usually hope and pray I don't have to fiddle with it again. Hasn't been the case with this bike at all! Anyway, I was comparing the clutch worms from the original side cover, and the much much nicer one I scored on eBay, and discovered that the pull point is different!


The original is on the right, and the new one on the left. My cursory internet sleuthing suggests that the original is a mid production one, as later ones are more similar to the new one I have in terms of the pull point. In any sense, with the original worm/cable adjusted slightly tight, the clutch disengages. Great success! Any ideas? Some of my reading suggested the newer style worm with the closer pull point actually works better. That said, if it works now, what's my motivation for going back? Also, why wasn't the new one working?! I can't wrap my head around why it wouldn't work, but then again, I failed high school algebra and had to retake it.

I seem to remember someone offering up some one piece 7075 clutch rods they made - was it you, TwoMany? If so, do you still have any?

Anyhow - I fired it up, and it's running really lean. It will only rev with the choke on, but will idle - somewhat poorly - with the choke off. I have not timed the bike yet, nor have I messed with jetting or mixtures at all. I guess I should add those to the list. I hate hate HATE messing with carbs with the burning fire of 1000 suns. I'm half tempted to take the bike to a local guy I know that's good with the XS and have him tune it, but what's the fun and where's the learning in that?! Maybe if I get desperate.

Good news is the battery is charging like a champ after I drastically shortened the stator + reg/rec cables, and it actually does start and run after all the electrical shiz I've done.

Finally, I'm thinking of getting one of those finned oil filter covers like below - are they functionally worth it? My new cover didn't come with one, so I cleaned up the old one but something polished would certainly look better, so why not upgrade while I'm at it?! Anyone have any +/- on these things? I'd probably wait until time for the next oil change to do it, so timing isn't critical.


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Hey, buzzword. Yep, have a 7075 rod with your name on it. PM me your address.

More info (all-day sucker) on the clutch worm and pushrod:


Your 1.5mm (0.060") pressure plate travel is what I get on mine.

Some searches on "oil temp", "oil temperature", and "finned cover" should drag up some threads on that finned cover...

Thanks!! Will send PM shortly. Seems like the oil temp wouldn't be meaningfully changed by using an extended/finned cover, but part of my motivation is aesthetic. I know, I know...

In summary, the clutch worm arm + associated mods I might want to try:

  1. Reverse the arm's offset so that the centerline is more closely aligned with the worm housing, which increases sprocket clearance and reduces the off-angle torque applied to the worm mechanism. Tipping torque - right?
  2. Twist the arm 6-8° so that the clevis is aligned with the cable entry point.
  3. Modify the cable entry so it points directly at the clevis hole - I'd probably use my dremel, as a piloted countersink tool isn't something I have readily available.
  4. Check worm seal cup + case protrusion for signs of contact - possibly ignore due to oil galley contained in protrusion...
  5. Remember: ..."every milli-inch counts." -2M

OR find a 1L9 or 12R XS360 worm arm to try - with some re-clocking, of course. :laugh:

Probably not.

Also, "cable friction accounts for about 39-43% of total force" -- I'm wondering if I can make a fully lined cable using a teflon cable liner from the bicycle industry and a re-soldered cable end.


Has anyone tried using this? In a factory cable, there's a short length of it in the bend. I used it allllllll the time in the various bike shops I've worked in over the years, and it works really well when used in conjunction with this stuff called Cable Magic. The guy who owns Rock n Roll lubricants is a certified weirdo, but who isn't?! He has a Ph.D in lubrication engineering, so I'd say I trust his products. His bicycle chain lube is amazing, and so is this stuff. If you guys think the cable routing on clutch and throttle cables on our XS650s is wacky, and causes problems, try using even thinner cables to control precision gear shifting in $10k+ road bikes, where the inner AND outer cable routing endure a ton of hard right angles and pinch points. Cable Magic really helps with this, so my brain is really pondering the possibilities now.


With the extra worm I have, it seems like some experimentation is in order - starting with reversing the arm's offset. Will report back once complete, though it may be a while with it working as well as it is now...

That is, unless you've got a spare "ultimate worm" laying about ;) I'm well familiar with the type of cutter you used, as - again - the bike industry uses many similar tools for facing things like disc brake mounting tabs, bottom bracket shells, head tubes, etc. In fact, I might be able to use a disc brake tab facer to modify the cable entry entry point.

I'm really starting to like the idea of tapping the cover to use a barrel adjuster of some sort, but it may be a moot point.

One thing I couldn't find in your write-ups was how you were able to compensate for the extra 1/2" of inner cable that the Mike Morse flexy cable has - any thoughts?

Finally, I'll just leave this here - fellow Texan (by birth) now living in California.

Haha, now you know why our heads swell.

To fill all that space.

Interesting thought about the Teflon liner. It's also available from wire-feed MIG suppliers.
It appears that you've totally absorbed that clutch worm experiment. Here's the one on the clutch cables. In there, I made a small brass shoulder spacer for the EZ-pull cable, to solve a hole fitment issue, and it removed some of that extra slack. Member Glennpm has that spacer now.

I actually called MMM today to ask about something else, and asked about the longer cable inner, and he said the solution is to shorten the spring so that the slack is taken up accordingly. Hmm.

As an aside, his VM34 setup is pretty compelling, although expensive. Hoos Racing and a few others make a kit as well, but don't offer Uni filters. I know the CV carbs run like doodoo with K&N style filters, but do the VM series Mikunis do well with them? Anyone have any direct experience with this?

Strangely enough, I was also devising a case-side spacer in my mind but it appears you've already gone well down that path.

I'll keep plugging - all this stuff will pay off, I'm sure of it.

Borrowed a timing light from a coworker, so I'm going to fiddle with that crap tomorrow evening. Here's hoping my meticulousness paid off in making a new TDC mark on the PMA rotor...
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Got a few things done last night:

  • Set timing - easy peasy! Took a few adjustments to get it completely dialed, but it's all good now.
  • Re-set air mixture screws. Seems like 2.75 turns out worked best for me at sea level (like, the Pacific ocean is 4 blocks away...) given Uni filters and open exhaust. Also double-checked sync - seems on point. I've got a buddy with a manometer, so I'll get his opinion very soon. I'm glad I actually fiddled with these carbs after all even though they intimidate me a bit. I almost impulsively bought a new set of VM34s yesterday. I'm sure they'd be great, but these are working awesome now!
  • Changed out the shocks - went from 310mm to 350mm Hagons with 120kg springs, which I think suits my riding style, height/weight, the fork's spring rate, and the bike's aesthetics. No chain interference on the swingarm. Yay! Nothing but good things to say about Dave Quinn + his amazing customer service.

The BIG news:
I finally rode the dang thing! All that planning, purchasing, grinding, drilling, sanding, painting, and cogitating really paid off. It is surprisingly quick - much quicker than I remember! I haven't ridden it in close to a year, so it was amazing to be able to get out and make some noise. It is REAAAALLY loud, unsurprisingly - but I'm OK with that. At some point, I may want to baffle the exhaust a bit. It's good for now though! No pics or videos because it was fully dark out. The headlight I put on there is EXTREMELY bright, and it is really nice to be able to use the turn signals as running lights. Even at 30% brightness - the motogadget setting I chose - they put out a LOT of light at night. The front brakes and suspension, too - holy moly - super glad I spent the time, effort, and money to make this all work.

Just a couple shots to show the new stance:



She got a real purty backside too...


Overall, I'm thrilled with how much of a difference the new shocks made in terms of handling and stance, and that there aren't any weird interference issues. I do want a slightly chubbier rear tire, but I'll wait for this one to wear out. Not a super high priority.

Speaking of priorities, here's what's left:

High Priority
  • Slightly tighten headset. Felt a VERY slight rocking under hard braking last night. Axle is tight, all the other stuff is tight - it's classic slightly-loose headset symptoms.
  • Replace clutch rod with one piece 7075 unit from TwoMany.
  • Clutch worm mods - flipping offset, etc.
  • Case mod for clutch cable entry angle change
  • Install MMM flexy clutch cable.
  • Find some acorn nuts for the passenger peg mounts, and some spacers as well.
  • Top off front brake fluid
  • Adjust/tighten rear brake

Low Priority

  • Shorten kickstand - doesn't lean quite enough to make me feel good about street parking it. Should be easy.
  • Swap bars - as I've said before, this is gonna take 3 or 4 hours, so I'm not exactly relishing the idea of doing this any time soon.
  • Swap bar risers - Cognito is sending me a new set of risers since the bare aluminum ones were something he sent so I could finish mockup. Also, the new ones should have slightly taller lowers so I can use the fancy retro top nut I bought. As it is, the bar interferes so it's installed with the factory GSX-R top nut. No big deal. The new ones will be black, too.
  • New pegs - probably gonna pick up these MX style pegs and modify the mounts. The rubber ones just look weird to me.
  • Make new battery cables - neg to motor/frame ground, pos to starter solenoid, starter solenoid to starter. The 8 AWG ones I made seem a little flimsy, though they are fully functional. I bought 6 AWG cable with a thicker jacket, which may be overkill, but who cares?! Once crimped, the terminals on the 8 AWG wire were really floppy and didn't seem at all sturdy. To remedy this, I am using the bigger wire, soldering the terminals once they're crimped, and using this gnarly 3:1 adhesive-lined heatshrink on the ends for some stiffness. All of this will give me a chance to slightly change some cable routing, and they're all getting wrapped in braided sleeve again too. I likes to party!
  • Polish oil filter cover - looks weird with the brushed finish inside that nice, clean clutch cover.
  • Full clean and detail top to bottom - I suspect there's a mild oil leak somewhere on the bottom of the engine, so next time I change the oil (in 500 miles or so) I'll drop the pan and install a new gasket, then clean the motor and frame within an inch of its natural life. That should give me a good indicator where the oil is coming from. This motor only has 2500 original miles or so - shouldn't be leaking!
  • New seat - still really undecided on what direction I want to go with this. I am thinking I will probably go with a dark brown of some sort - there's too much black on this bike already. This will likely result in some re-tooling of the rear fender and rear light wiring. Ugh. More wiring.
  • Fully strip tank - this no-dent tank is really straight, but the finish is pretty bad on it. I want to strip it to bare metal, then sand and buff it so the finish more even, and finally paint it with some satin clear. I may actually have it powdercoated satin clear for durability, but who knows. Not super important - that's why it's on this low priority list.
  • Paint pipes - gonna use high heat satin clear. All the oil is burnt off of them now, so I'm going to let them surface rust a bit more, then knock down the flaky rust with scotchbrite, and then use high heat satin clear on them. Some reviews suggest this stuff turns out with a slightly yellowish tint, but who knows - I won't until I try!

Any feedback? What have I missed?
Man, you're really getting with the program.
Whatever you're taking, we'll have some.

Here's what I'm taking:

1 part OCD
1 part evening boredom - my wife and kiddo go to bed pretty early
1 part fermented sugar water
1 part strongly motivated to ride​

Mix in a bit of mechanical itch-scratching motivated by working a desk job, and you have a fast-moving, detail-oriented project. Your mileage may vary!
Some of you may question my sanity when I share this next part, but here it is anyway...

The guy I got this from lost the Maine title he got from the original builder, so I've been making all kinds of phone calls and email inquiries, and I think I have my ducks in a row to march into the DMV here in SF tomorrow morning and walk out with a title. I have the following:

  • Notarized bill of sale from builder (A) to my friend who bought it (B)
  • Expired Maine registration card from (A) - expired 03/2014
  • Expired Maine license plate from (A) - expired 03/2014
  • CA DMV Bill of Sale (Form REG 135) from (B) to me
  • CA DMV Statement of Facts (Form 256) stating the bike was never registered in CA since it showed up from Maine in non-running condition, and was given to me as a gift by (B)
  • CA DMV Power of Attorney (Form REG 260) from (B) which allows me to make decisions on his behalf related to the titling of the bike in CA
  • CA DMV Application for Title (Form 343)

This paper trail - according to all my research - should be sufficient. The only wildcard is them seeing what my friend paid for the bike on the notarized bill of sale and saying that's what I'll owe taxes on. I have never encountered issues with them arguing with what I say the purchase price or gift value is, so who knows.

Worst case scenario, I have to pay two years of back reg fees here in California, plus the standard transfer of title/reg fees + prorated 2016 registration. Once that's all done, I am off to find a friendly LEO who can do the CA DMV VIN Verification check (Form REG 31). Once complete, I'll have to go to a CA Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) certified shop to have the brake and lamp inspection done. Before doing so, I'll have to rig up a horn and reflectors. Once all THAT is done, I'll be able to hand a ream of paperwork to CA DMV and get a title. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly. I know, I know - get the title first, the say.

Ugh. This is the price I pay for living in the most beautiful state in the Union. Except Texas, of course, 2Many.

Also, I'm talking with Wes @ Counterbalance to get a seat made. Like I told him, there's just nothing as compelling in my local market that I've found, and seeing his seats remind me how terrible my seat is. My hope is that a new seat will be the rug that ties the room together.


Obviously, you're not a golfer.
Good call, as you can tell he makes awesome seats! Here's a pic of the one he made me.
That 2nd pic was before I redid the frame rails, just wanted to post a good close up. Here's after I redid the frame.ImageUploadedByTapatalk1458839373.313073.jpg
What stitch pattern/material/color you going with?
Good call, as you can tell he makes awesome seats! Here's a pic of the one he made me.
View attachment 62144View attachment 62145
That 2nd pic was before I redid the frame rails, just wanted to post a good close up. Here's after I redid the frame.View attachment 62146
What stitch pattern/material/color you going with?

Wow - that looks great! I love your bike. VM34s are on my short list, but I'm going to run these BS38s until they make me pull my hair out probably. Already spent too much on this turd!

Getting horsehide in this finish and rib spacing - dunno what else to call it:


...and this shape, which is thicker throughout, but thinned out a bit toward the back:



Oh - bought a polished oil filter cover and a set of polished stainless case bolts. I'm nothing if not an aesthete. No pix, who cares!