New to XS650’s (and Yamaha) Build


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Hi guys, great site you have with lots of fantastic info for some one new to these bikes. I just picked up a 1980 off a buddy who had big plans but little money or time. The bike has been around with various previous owners taking a stab at customizing it. Here's how she looked when I brought her home:
Bike seems to run and ride OK but has a lot of less than ideal 'modifications'. My plan is to strip it right down and rebuild it as a scrambler / brat style bike for general resale or for a family member who wants to get into riding. Everything will get cleaned up / repainted and I'll replace parts as I go. One thing I know for sure I will be doing is replacing the hand controls and wiring harness. The bike has all sorts of electrical gremlins and the harness on it now has been completely butchered.
At home in my tiny corner of the garage I started looking at the stance and what I wanted to do (longer shocks definitely).
Before stripping the bike down I built a new under seat electronics box and a bracket to secure the battery and mount the starter solenoid. Came with a brand new AGM battery which fits perfectly in the frame, which was a nice bonus! I have a new plug style fuse box on the way that will be mounted to the bracket and then through the bottom of the box.
IMG_0774.jpg IMG_0773.jpg
Once I was sure everything would mount up ok and all the electronics would fit in the box under the seat I went to work and stripped the bike right down.
Next step will be de-tabbing and smoothing the frame and cleaning up some of the welds. Besides a little dirt and grease, the engine and frame both appear to be very clean and well taken care of. The engine especially looks like it will clean up really nice and shouldn't even need paint. Anything I should be paying extra attention to on these frames while I have it in this state? I have seen some people adding gussets etc but I'm not sure what if anything is really recommended as this is the first time I've worked on one of these.
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Hey Hoser!

I’m hoping you’ll post lots, I’m in the beginning stages with my build and it’ll be cool to see what you do!

Stripped to the frame is how the bike sits right now. I plan on documenting it here as I go, I’m sure I’ll need lots of help as I get into it. Going to be working on it off and on over the winter with the hopes to having it complete in the spring :cheers:

This is my last build (and personal bike)

1975 Honda Goldwing - I‘m not going nearly this in depth with the XS since I’m not planning on keeping it long term.
Kelowna BC

Ahhh...near to the Wet Coast!

Anyhow - ask lots of questions and post lots of pictures as there are people on this forum who likely know more about XS650s than the Yamaha people who originally designed and built them.


This should be interesting. Love the GW...
I had the pleasure of trying to keep up with Buck Mitchell on his café GW a few years back. There was no chance...
This should be interesting. Love the GW...
I had the pleasure of trying to keep up with Buck Mitchell on his café GW a few years back. There was no chance...

Thanks! The GW is a fun bike, turns a lot of heads as most people can't figure out what it is (in truth it's only about 50% Goldwing now anyway). She pulls hard and handles great for a 45 year old tank. Gotta say I'm very much enjoying working on the XS so far...Everything is 1/2 as complicated and 1/3 as heavy :laugh:
Did a bit of work chopping the frame down. Removed the center stand, passenger pegs and muffler brackets as well as various little tabs etc. Like a lot of others, I was midway through before I noticed I’d have to fab up a new brake return spring and switch mount. I have some ideas, shouldn’t be too difficult. I haven’t welded since high school but I borrowed a little flux core line feed to play around with over the winter. Should only need a few odds and ends welded up.

I was poking through the box of spare parts it came with and found the matching mini tach to the speedo that was mounted and the stock gauge bracket. Seemed like with a little work I could rehab it to work with the minis (I’m sure I’m not coming up with anything new here!). Drilled out the gauge mounts to accept the wider bolt spacing, added another hole to run the wiring through (with a grommet most likely) and carved out the inside of the bracket so the gauge could sit down flush. By mounting the bracket above the triple it should pull the gauges up high enough to see.
For the two extra holes between the gauges I ordered a couple amber LED pilot lights with chrome trim. I’ve never liked the single indicator light on the mini gauges.
It’s a work in progress but with some more filing, smoothing, and a fresh coat of paint should look decent.
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This GW just popped up on the Denver CL. I don't remember when I ever saw 2 custom GWs in such a short time.:)

That's a nice one! They are pretty few and far between, not many peoples first choice for a custom build. Mine originally belonged to my dad, who was a long time mechanic and Honda dealer. It was one of many that was in his shop when he passed and my mom asked if I'd like to take it. Hadn't run in about 15 years and I'd never had any desire to own a Goldwing before, but the originals were always his favourites so I decided to keep it and put my own spin on it. Don't plan on ever parting with that one
Spent a little time building some brackets to properly mount the rear fender. One for either side of the frame below the battery box and one for the inside of the back hoop. The grommets will have alloy spacers in the middle and will probably be mounted with cap head bolts and acorn nuts (this xs has acorn nuts every where I look)
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Got the aluminum spacers for the grommets.
In case anyone is interested, the spacers have a 3/8” OD, 1/4” ID and are 1/2” high. They fit perfectly in the middle of a 1/2” rubber grommet and allow for a snug fit of an M6 bolt. I plan on using this setup for anything small that needs to be rubber mounted.