Finally, I got mine! Now what?


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I got my hands on an 81 XS650H, I'm stoked! Few things to ask. Major Noob here, so I will apologize in advance for my Noobness. 1) he told me he was using Synthetic oil and would like to know if it is recommended to go back to organic. 2) pipes are shorty and stop right at the case. I get pops when down shifty and a little at idle. (leak in manifolds?) Maybe a bigger problem. 3) Chain is sloppy, will replace as well as sprocket, any recommendations on brands. 4) what should I also check to make sure I'm up to speed with any other maintenance for this motor. I can not tell you how excited I am about this bike. I have been looking for one, for what seems like, ever. I will get pictures of it on here today a little later. It is a bobber (sorta started) rat bike. it's kinda mickey moused in some areas, but all I see is the beautiful motor. The sound is unmistakable. Among the harleys and the endless supply of pro streets and knock off pro streets this truly, in my eyes, is the best bike out. Thanks to all for any help, and look forward to long Arizona road trips on it.
I live in Arizona, extreme heat. should I use SAE 40 as recomeneded by a thumbnail chart on the tech page of this forum? Detergent Rotella seems to be a topic of choice as well. just want to make sure.


I will get some more detailed pictures of the Mikey Mouse jobs on it. maybe someone can suggest some help on some. thanks to all.
Welcome to the land of the xs's, AzTim, To get to know what you have and to start you off on your never ending quest start HERE, You need to get a manual, a good down loadable one HERE, or to buy one of the Clyner or Hanes manuals, seems to be a personal choice, some like one and others like the for chains you can go to MikesXS, HERE, his seem to be as good as any, the 530 is a heavier chain and will last longer than the 520 but if you decide to put an 18 tooth sprocket on the front the 520 will fit better. A 20/50 oil for the hotter climates and HERE for some good reading on oils and some discussion on the best oils. The tech menu her has a lot of information to help you get a heads up so when you do ask all those pesky questions :D you will have an understanding of what the answers stand for. Happy reading :thumbsup:


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“””look forward to long Arizona road trips on it””””

Totally up my alley on this one...... but I’ve been beaten to a pulp on the subject………lets see what others say about this one………..xsjohn
When you change your oil, pull the sump plate to check the sump filter mounted to it. They are usually torn, allowing crap to circulate through your engine oil system unless previously modified or replaced with an upgraded sump filter unit.

Cheers... Dan
pics are really dark on my end, but actually - it looks pretty cool! maybe just put a back fender on it, so you don't accidentally get sucked into oblivion. Otherwise....I kinda like it.
I will get some good pics of her later today and post. I really thank all of you for the advice so far. Has proved very very helpful. Jayel, you have a point on the shorty pipes, and the back fender seems to be a really good idea. Beleive me, I have thought about that. I've got my plugs, oil, filter, and new chain ready to for this afternoon. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I'll take pics of the sprockets and other things on the bike to see if you can point out any thing I should be mindful of. This bike is really thrown together. The electronics, literaly, rest behind the mud gaurd behind the battery box. Just freely resting with a mile of electrical tape to keep it Can't wait for opinion and conjecture on this one. So, this afternoon, the "Frankinstien XS" will come out in the Sun to reveal it's uglyness. Man, this is fun.
Congrats on your new bike! It's a fun world, working on these old girls!

I suggest getting a maintenance book, and to to the periodic maintenance section.. start at the top and work your way down. By the time you reach the bottom, you will know your bike well, and know what may still need more attention, and... most importantly, know that it's done.
AzTim is the swingarm stretched? Or the top shock mounts altered?
To check your chain wear adjust the tension then facing the rear sprocket, pull on the chain at the 3 oclcok postion. if it lifts away from the sprocket to the point you almost see the end of the teeth you've gotten your moneys worth. If it doesn't lift off much save your money till you need one.
AzTim, I really like your ride!!!I'm with Aunty Em on this one, I got a pain in my stomach just thinkin' 'bout that. On good pothole or Prarie dog....You'll be singing tenor for Pavoratti.:yikes::yikes:
I,too, want to see your shock mount's.:shrug::bike:
can you beleive that rat nest under the seat? the welds are suspect, the chain is about to explode off of it, the tires are as old as moses, and holly god I love her!! I want to get every thing tuned in and then break it down, and get the welds re-enforced and sand it down nice. lop off the center stand mounts, and get the wiring all straight. I wanted to get the hard tail weld on but I have to say, I like the ride with the shocks the way they are. And, I dont see this build out there whatcha all think?
She looks a little rough around the edges, but I think if ya can give her a bath, teach her not to spit tabaccy inside - git her some new boots and show her what fine livin is like... she'll turn out just Fine!

Looks like a fun project!
KEEP THE SHOCKIES. Your kidneys will thank you , also a better quality ride .
Also you might want to brace up the swing arm mate . Check out for new tank , front fender etc . Nice looking project for you , go hard .
- bike has a nice feel to it...youre not running indicators and have only 1 guage, you can build your own electrics and simplify them a lot at the same time...personally i would stay with the soft tail, but then thats me listening to my tempted to put a fork brace on too and a slim close hugging front guard, but then i dont spose it rains much in calif arizona