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XS400 cafe racer

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by mattb, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. Thus begins my thread documenting the project for a 1980 Yamaha XS400 cafe racer and bike mechanics learn-by-doing project. I hope to keep this thread updated with pics over time as we transform this bike, we being my mate Damien and I. Damien was well envious of my SR500, and wanted one, but didn't want to spend much on a second bike, and I came across this on eBay a month back. It came in good running condition, with a RWC. Damien decided to buy it, and bargained a $1600 Buy it Now price, with the agreement that we'd work on this together, both for the fun of making a cafe racer, and to learn proper mechanics - ie open the engine up and service the internals, replacing parts, maybe even getting a rebore and hotting it a little, as well as servicing the gearbox, carbie - the three scary final frontiers for us. So far it's been registered, but we're yet even to do the first (major) service. It doesn't run too badly though, cruises along happily as a 400cc twin should, though it's lacking in the power it should have (eg on the freeway) - such issues are not problems but rather its raison d'etre for us. Hopefully Damien will join the Netrider discussion through this thread.


  2. Cool, this is the type of project I am looking at this year. :cool:
  3. G'day

    Hey Matt,

    I'm here!

    The only comment that I have to make is that, yep, it runs well - but is a bit slow. Lugging my 95kg ass around, it'll only get to just over 100ks. I would have thought that with a little TLC she should be able to do more than that.
  4. Well, I can help you remove weight from the bike, but from yourself - that's your problem! :grin: (Not that I can talk, I just posted pics of myself in the Bike Reviews forum - the sad evidence is there for all to see!)
    A little TLC, a little bodging, a little gaffa and a lot of WD40! I'll have the rockets hooked up in no time!
  5. Should go a bit faster than that. Given favourable conditions, the 400 was able to just about touch the old imperial ton.

    Tip. A lot of the cycle parts were, allegedly, sufficiently similar to the aircooled RDs that stuff like rearset pegs intended for the stroker was relatively easy to adapt to the XS. Worth a look anyway.
  6. Very nice! not many 400s around too, keep us posted on her! :)
  7. i'm looking forward to seeing how this pans out :)
  8. Ok - It's time to buy some tools!

    I'm hoping to go to Bunnings tomorrow to buy some sockets and ring spanners. I spoke to my mechanic and his advice is to get the cheapest "Chrome Vernadium" stuff that you can... saying that the brand name items are not worth the money.

    Any tips?
  9. had one of these little gems myself a few (ie 18) years ago, could get 110mph out of it downhill with a tailwind.

    it had classic marchonisi (sp?) rearsets and dropped clipons and it flew
  10. Cool!!

    Our's does 100 "K" ph on the freeway which, in my mind is not workable. It's too slow to take on a decent country run. Obviously there's more to be found in the old girl!
  11. Cheers

    Trevor G
  12. As a mechanic i can definitely say that the brand name items are worth the money, however, if its just for some basic stuff around home then i wouldn't be too concerned.
  13. just dont be fooled into buying one of those cheapo sets with spanners and sockets and all the gubbins, they aint made out of steel but some form of dairy produce.

    better off buying individual items and paying a bit more for em, you get what you need and if looked after will last a lifetime
  14. ditto to Sluglie, cheap tools aren't worth a crumpet. Unless you want to spring for a quality SET (how OFTEN are youg going to use them?) you ARE best off buying individual items, but quality ones. I've always like ring/open-ender combos, because each spanner gives you the ring and the open end version of the same size, ie, 10mm both ends.

    And I know it sounds brutal, but buy a brand-name set of Vice-Grips; it's amazing how useful they are, even just as a vice in your hand....
  15. If it's not broke don't fix it. Heard that before? If the bike happily runs, IMHO then stay out of the motor and gear box. But do service the carbs, check ignition timing and all bearings suspension/steering/wheel bearings.
  16. yeah definately, buying cheap tools can get very expensive when the let go anor start rounding off bolts heads, becuase they aren't actually all that close to the correct size, not to mention the amount off skin that comes off knuckles because of the thin walls on cheap and nasty tool sets, with the work yourself and matt are doing to this wee beasty i would definately look at decent quality tools, alot of the bolts on a bike that age are going to be bloody tight
  17. The crescent set for ~$200 from bunnings does the job in terms of basics

    i have one it works brilliantly and has full warranty i.e it breaks take it back get a new one

    my only criticism it that the spanners only go up to 17


    (everything above and beyond that set are sidchrome)
  18. Hey Matt! Sounds like fun.

    I'm with Hornet, get some good tools. I left all my Sidchrome stuff in Sydney, dammit.

    Looks like fun. Is there much of a presence for the 400 on the 650 site? I imagine there's probably a fair bit of parts that are interchangable from that period. The RD stuff is a good idea, but RD's are getting rarer and rarer by the second.
  19. G'Day guys

    Nice project...

    Nice Bike...

    I currently own an Yamaha XS400 1982 Maxim from the USA
    and i ride it a lot,
    and have performed a lot of maintenance on it.

    Its rated speed is 160kmh

    Redline is at 10,000 RPM although it has been to 12,000 RPM
    this bike comes alive after 6000rpm, it loves to rev...

    These bikes are a lot of fun... but a little low geared.


  20. Matt have you still got the XS?

    i've found a dirt cheap one that's been restored plus it comes with an almost complete parts bike, i'd get a pre purchase inspection if i go to look at it but i don't see to many around and would like an honest opinion/review on them by someone that's owned or at least ridden one.

    it didn't take me long to find spares like gaskets, carby rebuild kits and piston kits from Australian retailers for very reasonable prices on the internet. apparently there's a little bit of interchangeability with the SR series too, like wheels etc.

    i'm just after a somewhat reliable bike for one or two commutes of about 40km (round trip) a week plus a longer Sunday ride every weekend for the next 2 to 3 years while i progress off my L's & work on other bike projects.