Resurrecting My '79 XS650F


XS650 Member
Reaction score
Hello all, from Michigan!

Well, it looks like I'm going to be resurrecting my old bike. Hooray! Oh man, I'm going to be resurrecting an old bike. <gulp>

I've owned my '79 XS650F since 1993. It's my first and actually only road bike. I've had it longer than I've had my wife. I'm the 2nd owner and I've put most of its miles on it -- I got it for $400 from a friend of the family, with 6,400 miles on it. I think it has 26k-ish on it right now. Sadly, I parked it when my twins were born...they're almost 17 now. It's been sitting in my in-laws' pole barn since 2011 but it looks like this weekend it's finally going to come home.

I think I have two different goals: 1) getting it to run, and 2) making it actually rideable. Goal #1 should be easy(ish). It was in running condition when I parked it. Years of storage notwithstanding I think I'll be able to check for rodent damage and nests, add fresh gas and electricity, maybe clean the plugs and I think there's an 80% chance it'll start.

Goal #2, though... The things that I know it needs before I even look at it again are: New tires -- the ones on it are from 1994. The motor was starting to weep oil through the cylinder gaskets, so a gasket kit. The swingarm bushing was wobbly, so new bushings. New battery. Gonna say a carb rebuild. New hoses. New Oil. New brake fluid. And that's before I look for any storage damage/rust/corrosion. On the plus side, I've gone out and moved it around when I visit the in-laws, so I know it rolls and the brakes still work. I replaced the clutch in 2005 or so, and it only has one season of riding on it. It's been stored indoors, so it shouldn't be TOO rusty now -- I mean, it's still shiny. I know the condition it was in when I parked it, and I know that nobody else has had their hands in it -- it's 100% original and unmolested. I don't have to undo anyone else's work.

Overall, though, I'm excited to get it back in my own garage and to have a project to work on. Here's the most recent pic I have of it....from 2015(!)
good luck, love to see original bikes out there. Beside from the leaking gasket, which unfortunately require engine out of the frame, it sounds like the rest is easy-breezy. Docent look to rusty to me :).
Oh my, a '79 Standard. That's a pretty rare model, at least in my neck of the woods. I've never even seen one in person. You may be able to "fix" the leaking head gasket with just a simple head bolt re-torque. Nobody really ever did that and that's why many of these you see will have leaky head gaskets. Also, Yamaha used rubber/metal washers under the 4 outside head nuts to seal them and while they do that, they're too soft to keep the nuts tight. Most of us replace them with copper or brass washers, soft enough to seal but hard enough to keep the nuts tight .....


If you didn't drain the carbs when you parked the bike then yes, they are going to need a cleaning. But as long as you don't attempt to start it, that cleaning may be just the float bowls. If they are gummed up and you try to start it, that can suck gunk up into all the passageways and plug up the whole works, lol, so don't do that.

As you read around the site here, you'll find many cheap little upgrades and improvements you can do to make these bikes better. You've mentioned a few but I'll also recommend tapered steering head bearings, and new plug wires and caps. You can also add several more grease fittings to help keep things lubed, particularly on the side and centerstand pivots. The centerstand tang also needs to be braced or it will eventually break off .....

Braced Stand2.JPG


Side Stand Grease Nipple3.JPG
Hi @noodlenoggin sounds like you're excited about bringing your long-term relationship with the bike back to life as you bring the bike back to life! Great project to have not just an old survivor pulled out of a shed in unknown condition - instead you have the bike you stored yourself and know what you've got there. @5twins tip about re-torquing the head bolts and replacing the rubber composite washers is something many of us have done with good results. Might save you having to pull the engine to replace all the gaskets. Should think a carb rebuild is pretty much sommat you will need to do. So Good luck and keep us all posted, Raymond
Last edited:
In most cases, a carb "rebuild" is mostly just a thorough cleaning. If you're careful with the disassembly and don't damage them, the original gaskets can be re-used. In fact, I like factory float bowl gaskets the best, even used ones. As far as a choke housing gasket goes, you don't need to even remove that part so no new gasket needed there, just check the mounting screws to insure they're tight. For the chokes, all I do is pull the plunger out of the housing and clean/inspect that.
Thanks, everybody! Well, I already re-torqued the head bolts several times when I was still riding it. So I think that ship has sailed. And it's been weeping from the base of the cylinder as well. And I guarantee I haven't gotten any lighter while it's been sitting, so it's not like it'll have LESS work to do when I finally ride it. lol
What a beauty! I think the Standards are the best looking models. If you’re going into the engine with that many miles I would consider replacing the guides and Cam chain and seriously look at my rings. You’re gonna be in there may as well get the inevitable over. Welcome to the forum!
We're up north at my in-laws' this weekend, where my bike's been stored since 2011. They pulled it out so we can put it on a trailer on Monday.

On inspection, there's a little bit of mouse house around the airbox but not bad. The clutch and rear brake work, but the front leaked out all its fluid. The motor turns with the kickstarter. There's gas in the tank.:( Maybe the gas kept the tank from rusting? The tires are really cracked. I REALLY compress all the suspension when I sit my 270lb butt on it.

But it's all there and all original and in basically good shape I think. And it has less miles than I remembered.




I feel like this is becoming the thread where I document bringing my bike back to life. Let me know if I need to rename it or start a new one or anything. And so far, thanks for all the positive replies -- I'm on forums for different things, and everyone isn't so nice.

So the story of this bike, if anyone's interested (and if not, please skip along :p) isn't too long. A friend of the family's husband bought this '79 new in 1980 -- I have the original sales slip. He rode it for about a year if I remember right, about 6400 miles, and then had a heart attack and passed away, and the bike sat in her garage. Her son "got it running" once, I guess. She then sold it to me in 1993, when I was 23. It had been sitting in the garage for a couple of years, but I basically cleaned the spark plugs, put in fresh gas and kicked it and it started. I did nothing but ride this bike that year. I was on it all day, every day.

One night, riding in the country at midnight, there was a curve that was signed at 40mph but was a 90-degree left, and I put the bike down at 40mph. I rode it home with no clutch and the headlight pointing at the stars, but really nothing more than cosmetic damage. Those thick metal blinkers will hold up the bike in a slide, by the way. I replaced the narfed parts, except for the tank and left muffler, because expensive, and went back to riding it. I rode it back and forth to college and when I moved on campus, it actually lived IN my apartment living room. I have a photo somewhere of this bike with Christmas lights wrapped around it.

I met my future wife (we've been married 26 years now), graduated, and the bike got parked more years than ridden. There were more than a few times that she wanted me to sell it when things were tight, but these days she's glad I didn't. I rode it for a while in the 2000's, and then parked it in '06 when our twins were born. Now we finally have a house with a garage, and some space IN that garage for a change, so it gets to come home, and I'm looking forward to making it nice again.
Nice background story.
Yeah, prolly need to rename it to a "build/restore/survivor thread. Would seem kinda silly a year on having a thread titled "New to the Forum." ;)
I'm on forums for different things, and everyone isn't so nice

Yep I get aggravated on other forums when a newer member asks a question and if it’s perceived as dumb they get raked over the coals or humiliated. It’s normally not like that here. There is an occasional wanker here but for the most part everyone tries to help. That’s typical of those master cylinders. I had a 77 that looked pretty much the same. I cleaned the MC. Flushed the lines out. Got the caliper free’d up and after a few bleeding sessions had great brakes. IMHO that rubber seal under the cap is the culprit. What part of MI? There are several members close by that are super helpful.
What part of MI? There are several members close by that are super helpful.
We're in Ionia, midway between Grand Rapids and Lansing. I saw the pics from the Owosso bike show that I didn't know existed...I'm gonna have to make it a goal to get to that, maybe next year?
While we're at it, here's a partial list of suppliers for our bikes... Also, your best bet will be to ask here before ordering a part. Someone will usually chime in on the quality... or a better deal.

Absolutely ask here before ordering from MikesXS. Some of their stuff is OK, some's pure Chinese junk.

How's your bookmark finger? ;)

Google in-site search function.... (space plus search criteria) For instance... jim
Last edited:
While we're at it, here's a partial list of suppliers for our bikes... Also, your best bet will be to ask here before ordering a part. Someone will usually chime in on the quality... or a better deal.

Absolutely ask here before ordering from MikesXS. Some of their stuff is OK, some's pure Chinese junk.

How's your bookmark finger? ;)

This is great! My Google search for parts just came up with Mike's and XS650Direct.
Yes, put Mikes at the very bottom of your list, lol. A few good items but mostly junk. In particular, stay away from their repro rubber parts.