Help bring an old flat track racebike back to life!


It's never too late to have a happy childhood!
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Palm Springs, CA
Ok, I reaching out for some good advice from the folks on this great forum. I've been lurking for a long time while I was figuring how my project and getting my issues organized.

Here's the tale. I grew up in Eastern New Mexico and bought an old XS650 flat track race from a high school buddy about a year and a half ago. It was raced in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado in the early seventies and raced at Pikes Peak in the 1976 Bicentennial event.

After I got it, I did a light cosmetic restoration, really more a deep cleaning as the paint and many pieces are original. I didn't get into the engine, but believed it to be sound.

Last May, I showed the bike at the Quail Lodge Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, CA and lots of people loved the old school look of it.

Now, I am doing two things, getting it running and converting it from flat track mode to the way it was when it ran Pikes Peak. There, it used TT pipes and a front brake that I think was probably a Honda CB450 or Superhawk brake. There is a photo from 1976 showing the bike with the front brake.

My first issue is that the kickstarter had removed, as it was a race bike. As my goal is to ultimately get the bike on the street, I am trying to install a kickstarter. The engine, according to the S/N is a 1971 or XS1. I bought a kickstart mechanism on eBay and have it installed. However, the parts page illustration that I have shows one shaft with a thrust bearing and one without. The shaft came assembled with a ziptie holding a single washer. So, first question is do I need the thrust bearing or not?

Next, the clutch is obviously an early style with six plates. Should I try to upgrade to a newer basket, or just get six new plates from Mike's and keep the rest original or ???

As far as the TT pipes, I got a set with the bike that fit pretty well. they are 1.75" and about 37" long. I have some baffles that fit well for the street. Anything I should do differently there? I have seen some inserts from a couple of source that go up by the head, but wonder if I need something like that as I will be getting some restriction from the baffles.

I cleaned the Mikuni carbs and they look pretty decent. I have a Pamco ignition, but it is not fully installed yet.

Then, last, the alternator assembly was removed, but the shaft was not cut off. My plan is to just run the bike off the battery at first, until I get a feel for how much I may really end up riding it. If it is as much fun as I think it is going to be, I will want to get a charging system installed. Any suggestions on what I should use? I have to assume there were improvements over the life of the XS, but any parts will have to fit my '71 engine.

I would really appreciate any help and suggestions you can give. I think this bike is going to be a keeper and I'm loving bringing it back.


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Man you got a TrackMaster frame with Ceriani forks, Barnes spool`s H/A brakes, RH shifter, Bates pegs vintage tank & seat and a lot more. I`d sure like to know what`s on the inside?? This is a great survivor!! Don`t change anything.
Track Master frame.... ? the engine looks slightly angled forward..... For the streets you'll need lights.. brake lights.. usual stuff that keeps the boys in blue happy. A front brake would be recommended .... if you lost the rear juice brakes... Shoe leather is a poor substitute.
Did they really cut the crank..?.. all the ones I saw.. and it's been sometime... they just removed the stator/alt assembly.... and added the altered engine cover.
Those bearings look like the set found behind the clutch basket..?... If the plates are within spec's.. save the $$$, clean and fibers.. media blast the steel... maybe invest in stiffer springs.. I did that with my 750 kit.. and used just three stiff springs and three stock.. worked great. I had all 6 stiff ones for a time... can you say carpal tunnel. ?
Its a nice unit... keep it as is.... If you just ran a battery.... it's good for..30-40 miles.. ?
It's a tough call... put it on the street..with all the lights.. etc etc.. or keep as it.. and use for events..shows...
Hi guys! The dentist chair threw me for a minute. No chair, the light I think you are talking about was going to be tossed by my neighbor. It's a magnifier with LED's around it, so I mounted it by a small lathe and mill I have.

I'm not planning on making any irreversable changes. I'm not good with display cars or bikes, so I want to be able to ride it on occassion. I will probably use a very small chrome Bates style headlight and a small period tail light. Nothing manufactured later than the early seventies. Switch gear will be early Lucas style. It will look like it was converted back then. So, if I wanted to show it as a flat tracker, I switch front wheels and remove the lights, possibly put on the right side megaphone pipes. Probably take about two hours maximum.

Thanks for the nice words. I love the bike and don't want to molest it. The paint has lots of little cracks, so I just shot some clear over it to keep it together. You still see the cracks, but that's the way it is. Lots of little scars on the forks, wheels and side cases. They will stay, too.

I have seen some in that era where they cut the end of the crank off after removing the alternator, then the side case is flat, not like mine with a sort of cap over the crank end. Somebody did some very clean machine work on the bike. It was built in Alamogordo, NM at a Yamaha dealership. I'm not yet sure what is inside. I can see some port work was done. The two guys who raced it back then are still around, Joe Pierce and Rob Robertson. The bike is a 650, not a 750, but Joe said it was the only 650 that could run with the 750's, so there must be something going on inside.

Thanks for the clutch tip. Sounds good to me.

Does anybody have any suggestions on what I need for the starter. The bearing shown is for sure for the kickstarter. I just purchased it NOS.

Appreciate the comments!
1971 didn't have a starter ... most likely they used a " roller " starter... a auxiliary unit..pair of rollers placed under the rear wheel.. rollers driven by electric motor or sometimes a vehicle.
So you'll have to rehang the kicker. As for the headlights... I ck'd the book... requires a " headlight "... on one of my cafe' units... I used 1157 LED (6volt)... ( ...mounted in the full race faring.... Being a 1157.... I have "high " and "low" beam... " beam " might be stretching it.. far the boys in blue haven't ask'd for my autograph ... Of course 6volts means ..don't drive at night.
I'll try and post photos later.
Push Start! This is only my opinion but you`ve got one of the nicest "Real Deal`s" I`ve ever seen. This is a RACER, not a street bike. :twocents:
BTW Welcome to the forum. It`s good to have another Flat Track racer member.
Such an awesome bike and history! just started a dirt tracker project so this is so cool to see!

What is that on the stator cover? just and engine protector (slider)? I am planning on running no charging system and battery only... I was sure if you could just take the stator off, or if you had to re attach anything in its place.
Yes, the Real Deal. Many of us will be interested in the changes that were made to the Real Deal.

Sorry no one has helped with your K starter yet. Yamaha publications can not always be trusted, someone should help with your questions soon.

Push Start! This is only my opinion but you`ve got one of the nicest "Real Deal`s" I`ve ever seen. This is a RACER, not a street bike. :twocents:
BTW Welcome to the forum. It`s good to have another Flat Track racer member.

Thanks so much on the bike and for the welcome, as well.

When I say I want to put it on the street, I'm just talking about barely making it street legal, just so that I can ride it a bit. I am a physically fit active rider (KTM 950 Supermoto and '92 Ferraci built 900SS Ducati), but am 71 and unlikely to flat track at this point. Also, compared to many, I don't have a garage full of collector bikes. I have three total. I have had the KTM 11 years and the Duc 18 years.

I considered making the Yamaha, perfect-perfect, but that erases the bike's history, so I am trying to make her as nice as possible but not worrying about race scars here and there. I am going to have to have the pipes plated, as that was how it was at Pikes Peak and was period correct, but I told the shop that they don't have to be perfect. There is a small dent in one that I'm not worrying about.

When you sit on this bike, you JUST HAVE TO RIDE IT! The lightness, the stance and those wide bars just make you want to hit the road or track or whatever is available. I happen to be involved in a nearby project that might feature a flat track and believe me, if that happens, Prom Queen is going back to full flat track setup and no matter how old I am at the time, I'm hitting the dirt. Oh, hip replacement about six years ago, so no push start. I considered it.

I just need to figger out exactly what I need to do for the kickstarter. :umm:
Oh I see .. .they narrowed the left side case and that tit sticking out is there for the OG crankshaft... sorry i didnt inspect enough before posting... lol
Such an awesome bike and history! just started a dirt tracker project so this is so cool to see!

What is that on the stator cover? just and engine protector (slider)? I am planning on running no charging system and battery only... I was sure if you could just take the stator off, or if you had to re attach anything in its place.

Thanks, as you can see, I love it! That is a machined cap for the end of the crank. If you like, I can take it off and send pix or even measurements. Somebody with some machining skills worked on the bike, for sure. There are several very nice pieces on it. The bracket holding the rear caliper is particularily nice.
Beautiful Motorcycle, for me I would just leave it alone and ride it as is. Wish I had one, and welcome to the site. The people her are so knowledgeable and cant wait to help, I know first hand from my latest build.
Thanks! I am largely leaving it alone. Fitting the front brake is the main change and it was raced like that. it would be a crime to change it much. Even people who don't like motorcycles seem to like it!

This is what it looked like when I first saw it. This is the tank they raced it with later. I told my friend I would buy it based on seeing this.

When he pulled it out and cleaned off the worst, he had it set up like the bottom photo. I just laughed out loud when I saw it. Made me think of Elvis and Evel Knievel at the same time!
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Thanks for sharing pics and stories. She's a Queen for sure!
Dave, here is a picture of my latest build the 650 street tracker, and a picture of the Trackmaster Yamaha 250 I built back in 1972 and still race today. Not bragging (maybe a little), I won the class championship in 2012 on this 250. I am in Garden Grove ca. so maybe we can hook up someday and talk a little. If you want my phone # I can give you that.


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