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Getting licence + [Yamaha XS650???]

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by boingk, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. Hi all. Was here a few years ago but somehow when I went down to get my CD250 I drove home in a Valiant... long story.

    Anyway, still interested in bikes and am going through the process of getting my licence etc. Theres an alright deal on an old Yamaha XS650 and I'm wondering if its worth taking up - does anyone have experience with these bikes?

    I've heard that they aren't much rush in the performance stakes but are easy to work on and very long-lived...other than that I'm flying blind.

    So can anyone help me out? Cheers - boingk

  2. Now I'm going to have to strain the old brain on this one. Yes these motors are very reliable. The motor was a popular choice for sidecar racers in the '70's as a replacement for Triumph and BSA units. I seem to remember the design dates from around 1970 and was a collaboration with Toyota. So no electronics or balance shafts or other such new fangled stuff on these babies. There's an Australian owners club so try googling them for info.
  3. Theyre popular with us sidecar nuts for two major reasons - firstly you can get them to 850-900cc simply by boring, and then up to 1200cc with a high-performance long-throw shaft; and secondly because theyre indestructible. literally. ive seen them flogged unmercifully on the dirt for seasons without a rebuild and they just keep going.

    mechanically theyre very sound thanks to quality materials, simplicity of design and using (probably) twice as much metal than necessary. whatsmore you can get modernised igniton systems fitted which make them first-kick starters (not that there was much bother in that department even in 1970). and once youve got a workshop manual and set of spanners you should be able to strip and rebuild the engine over a weekend

    be a bit careful when buying one now seeing as theyre all 30+ years old and being japanese they havent all been kept in the best of condition. there isnt much that can go drastically wrong but small things like cam-chain wear and camshaft bearings can be a headache, and of course you never know whats been bush-hacked or deprived of oil (not that the XS burns any)

    as for performance, there's plenty you can look at to make it go faster. as already mentioned they can be bored to an unnecessarily large capacity - there used to be a '750 kit' available for them with larger diameter, higher compression pistons and rings. this went well with a short-stroke crankshaft to bring the capacity back to 650-ish. people often play with the head by opening ports, installing larger valves, stronger springs, lightened rocker gear, larger carburettors and hotter camshafts. suffice to say there are a lot of ways to make one go faster, but you do lose some reliability and inevitably vibration will set in. also, as i said in a previous topic, the XS is hopelessly geared. to make ideal use of the abundance of revs available you would fit a larger engine sprocket - only there isnt any room for one.

    anyway, it would be a top choice. the old XS has bags of character and is cheap, fun and simple. parts are readily available at good prices, and they respond well to 'tinkering'; be it for better performance, a more comfortable ride or just to make it look special, you cant really go wrong with the best twin England never made
  4. talk to the captn, he's cafe-ing one as we speak, separate thread.

    I owned a 1979 model, and wish I still did :(.


  5. What is a 'Bobber'?...that looks really cool.
  6. I quote...

    "Bobber choppers have a long and interesting history. They were the brainchilds of soldiers who returned home from World War II who found that they had developed a taste for the more lightweight bikes that they had seen in Europe. As war vets reunited after the war they began to form motorcycle clubs. Some of these clubs got very creative and started stripping down bikes to resemble those they saw over the big pond.

    Before there was a chopper or even a chopper bobber, there was a bike simply called a bobber. Simply removing the fenders from motorcycles made them seem lighter and more European in style. It wasn't until the early 60's and 70's that motorcycle enthusiasts started stripping away the rest of the bike. As sometimes the parts of the bike were literally chopped off to give the bike a lean sleek look they were nicknamed choppers."
  7. Random thoughts:

    Any bike that old is going to need a fair bit of tlc.

    Also, don't expect it to be smooth.

    Second gear had a bit of a reputation.

    Parts are not going to be easy.
  8. I never knew how choppers got their name till now.
    Thanks for the info ZRX1200R

    I never really understood why people would bother moding a bike...how foolish of me. I'm going to look more into this.
  9. Thousands of reasons mate, especially with the old XS650's, SR500's etc etc. Some are functional, such as suspension upgrades or solving some oil lubrication problems, others make them go quicker and some just to make them look hot. (ter)

    I never used to a car person, and didn't give a rats about car mods etc but when i started riding everything changed. You become very fussy about what you ride because your life depends on it. And mods are a lot cheaper and easier to do on a bike than with a car.

    Ibast is spot on with what he says, but these kinds of bikes can be a lot more rewarding to own than a modern one. Parts are becoming less of an issue with some really good internet vendors popping up...
  10. Firstly the xs is a great bike, a bit heavy depending on model age, the 80s xs where the fatest, about 210, where the early 70s where in the 180 region, (quoting from repair manual) they do need tlc considering there age, how ever, parts are not really a problem, go to http://www.mikesxs.net/ they have just about every single part for the old bird, from simple nuts all the way to big bore kits, can vouch for em, deliver within a week.