Sprockets, Fork Oil, Bearings & Bars


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Coldwater, Mississippi
I'm riding two nearly identical Specials. XS650SH & XS650SK

The XS650SK has 17/33 sprockets. The XS650SH has 17/34 sprockets.
I've been living with the 17/33 set-up for a year. I've had the bike for 40 years and this is the first time I ever tried it. I like it better than I thought I would. I can roll along comfortably at 65 mph and 70 isn't miserable. It's great if I'm going to go long or have to mix it up with high speed traffic.
The freshly rejuvenated XS650SH got 17/34 sprockets. It's definitely quicker on the draw. No maybe. It's quick. It spins quickly to 60 mph where it cruises happily. For most of my purposes, 60 mph is more than fast enough.
17/34 is my preference. (Most of the time.) YMMV

Bel-Ray 10W fork oil is what I use in my stock XS650SK forks.
Mississippi roads typically aren't the greatest. I have plenty of broken pavement to deal with. My stock forks with 10W works well enough, I'm good with it.
On my XS650SH, I got stuck with Bel-Ray 15W fork oil. That's what I had and could get nothing else on short notice. I ordered 10W from Amazon and they sent 15W. It's not good. The forks are too slow. It does not do a good enough job of soaking up the bumps. I'm going to have to drain it prematurely because I hate it. 10W is what belongs in there with the stock set-up. Both bikes are identical, but the fork oil.

My XS650SK got tapered roller bearings several years ago when the OE bearings failed. They function perfectly. They're easy to set and more durable than the OE bearings.
My XS650SH has just 6,000 miles on it. The OE bearings are fine. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" If I concentrate on the ride, I'm pretty sure the OE bearings are quicker and it's enough to feel the difference, especially if I ride the bikes back-to-back. Both bikes are on the same Dunlop tires.

Finally, the very subjective handlebar. I have always found the stock Special bar to be comfortable as long as it is turned down. It is more comfortable on my Eleven Special than the 650 Special because the Eleven has more room. I installed a Triumph T140 bar on this one. The stock cabling fits it perfectly. I have more room and I think I like it. I haven't had an all day with it yet and I've been routinely pissing off my arthritic shoulders in the CrossFit gym. Grip length is short for the Yamaha switchgear, but it will work. I'm tall and the eight inch rise isn't much. TBD