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  #1  
Old 7 Sep 2005
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XS 650 anyone ?

I seem to have acquired [through no fault of my own ] several xs 650 Yamahas .It occured to me that I might be able to make one or possibly 2 good bikes out of them .I wondered if anyone has experience of long distance travels on these old buggers and what problems they might have had .I know very little about their particular foibles but they seem to be a reasonably well built bike .My previous experiences have been with British bikes so I am not scared to get my hands dirty .;}
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  #2  
Old 7 Sep 2005
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Build up a good bike and then verify working replacements for the electricals to take along. The 650 i rode was a fun ride and got good mileage. The main thing is it is old. Replace the alternator brushes and put all the nuts and bolts together with clear silicone seal to keep them from vibrating apart. Adjust the cam chain regularly and keep the oil clean. I have seen the 650 run till the entire piston skirt fell off and still the motor was running fairly well. I have seen the older 650's actualy going up in price.
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  #3  
Old 4 Oct 2005
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Now that was a great bike! Like a lot of UJMs from that era - great engine, not so great everything else. I ran one on nitrous oxide for a short while - if nothing else it sure helped decoke the silencers! Nearly bought one recently to try and relive my youth but they wanted a 1000 quid for a 25 year old bike!

Enjoy the ride

Chris S

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  #4  
Old 4 Oct 2005
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Until fairly recently these motors were the choice of power-plant for trials,enduro and grasstrack sidecar outfits and as there are still quite a few still going strong now,i'd guess they're pretty bullet-proof.I know of at least one that is trialing now,that's bored/stroked out to 900cc(Wasp frame),and does'nt seem to give any hassle to it's owner.Looks like a copy of the Triumph unit motor,without the leaks of course!

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  #5  
Old 5 Oct 2005
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Hi Jon ,
Thanks for the reply .I lived in Pembrokeshire for 10 years near Goodwick and trialled Land Rovers in your neck of the woods .
Has it stopped raining yet ?
Where do you live ?

If you ever ride the Alaska Highway ,call in and have a pint of decent !

Roger

Quote:
Originally posted by JonStobbs:
Until fairly recently these motors were the choice of power-plant for trials,enduro and grasstrack sidecar outfits and as there are still quite a few still going strong now,i'd guess they're pretty bullet-proof.I know of at least one that is trialing now,that's bored/stroked out to 900cc(Wasp frame),and does'nt seem to give any hassle to it's owner.Looks like a copy of the Triumph unit motor,without the leaks of course!

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  #6  
Old 31 Aug 2006
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Up and running - and now home

It was a last minute decision to head down to southern BC for the HU meeting at Toad Rock .
I have been working on the bike changing a few things like handlebars ,making bits and pieces and powder coating fenders and forks etc to get rid of as much chrome as possible .
The gas tank I intended to use had developed a pinhole leak so I slapped a nasty looking black one on the bike , my upholstered seat had not arrived so duct tape and sheepskin saved the day [ no comments please !] and actually it was quite comfortable [ again no comments required ] .
I filled the right saddlebag with as many spare parts as I thought I would need ,all electrical ,coil,points,condenser etc and as an afterthought threw in a spare alternator rotor .
The bike ran well despite the restrictive 34 mm carbs I had fitted ,I couldn't get the preferred 38 mm ones dialled in properly due to a defective diaphragm .
Halway down through Jasper National Park the old bugger began backfiring [which is a great way of getting car drivers off your arse BTW ] and finally conked out .Flat battery !
After a battery charge at the service station and a cup of tea [ the British answer to all adversity ] it dawned on me to test the alternator , - knackered !
So I slapped on the spare alternator rotor and Bob's yer uncle ,we were in business again .
That was pretty much it as far as major gremlins were concerned , a new alternator carbon brush needed a bit of filing down at the campsite as it was sticking in the housing and not making good contact .But otherwise the old XS650 ran fine and clocked up 3500 km .
The Kenda tyres were fine on the heavily laden bike although the centre stand succumbed to the extra weight and had to be welded at a friends place .
This winter's project will be to change the camshaft and gas flow the head ,with a view to increasing the low to mid range power of the engine and giving it about 60 plus horsepower .

The HU meeting was superb and very informative as well as a great opportunity to meet some fascinating folk .Helge's BMW Enduro sidecar was major inspiration !

PLUS I now know where there is a great motorcycle orientated campsite with a super "not a bar " ! It won't be my last visit .
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"When you come to a fork in the road ,take it ! When you come to a spoon in the road ,take that also ."
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  #7  
Old 27 Dec 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dodger
I seem to have acquired [through no fault of my own ] several xs 650 Yamahas .It occured to me that I might be able to make one or possibly 2 good bikes out of them .I wondered if anyone has experience of long distance travels on these old buggers and what problems they might have had .I know very little about their particular foibles but they seem to be a reasonably well built bike .My previous experiences have been with British bikes so I am not scared to get my hands dirty .;}
You might be able to make one or two bikes out of them, but you'll never make a GOOD bike out of them.

The Yamaha XS650 engine is more or less reliable. It's made with roller bearings and everything inside is beefy. Connecting rods, transmission gears, and all bearings are just massive.

Unfortuantely, it's still a Yamaha.

While the engine is more or less indestructible, the rest of the bike is garbage. Plastic swingarm bushings that last 10k if you're lucky, points that are out of adjustment by the time you reach the end of the driveway, a coil so weak it could be French, a mechanical advance mechanism that likes to stick full-advanced for no apparant reason, and the carbureators. Oh the humanity! Those carbureators were the WORST EVER MADE. And did I mention the body-numbing vibration? The XS650 was the only bike I ever owned that had a reverse gear. Put it up on the center stand and rev the motor to 5000rpm and the bike would vibrate itself backwards, uphill, at walking speed. I'm not exaggerating here!

To make a well-running XS650 you'd need to do a LOT of work. Aftermarket bronze swingarm bushings, fork brace, tapered roller bearings in the steering head, aftermarket Mikuni round-slide carbs ($300/pair), aftermarket coil, replace the battery cables, relocate the mount for the negative cable (the sheet metal area the negative battery cable bolts to is prone to rusting out), replace the points with an aftermarket ignition system, and do something about the advance mechanism. Stronger springs or something. (I replaced the whole unit twice, and it still would not fully retract at idle). Also, the wiring is really sub-par. At the very least, rewire the entire starting circuit. New solenoid, new cable to the starter, new battery cables (noted above), and new wires to the handlebar switch. (And clean that button GOOD). Also rewire teh headlight circuit directly to the battery, and use a pair of relays powered off the stock headlight circuit as switching voltage. It will make a HUGE difference at night.

Overall... if they're free, and you have the time and money to rebuild one right, go for it. But don't skimp on anything above, or you'll regret it.

Charles.
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  #8  
Old 28 Dec 2006
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XS650 I'll buy one

If anyone doesn't want a xs650 or tx650 let me know, I would like to buy another one. I have worked on a great number of them since 1973. They have their problems but they have soul. Not everyone needs a razor sharp handling, marine grade wiring, computer driven two wheeler. Two wheels...motor in the middle.....after that go ride.
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  #9  
Old 28 Dec 2006
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Hey give a bike a break !

Thanks for the input Charles and you are right in a number of aspects .
It's not a perfect bike , but then what bike is ?
A lot of the problems you outline would also apply to most Japanese bikes of that era .
I have played with this bike quite a bit and have come to respect it for what it is and not what anybody thinks it should be .
It has a well built and reliable engine , frame is sturdy enough .
Wheels and brakes are good enough for my purpose .
I like the simplicity of points ignition and know and understand it well , the carbs are a problem as you suggest and are being replaced with Mikuni roundslides , I never did like diaphragm carbs !

The bike will be rewired this winter and all redundant connections dispensed with , all bearings will be replaced as a matter of course .

There is tremendous internet support for this bike and several vendors have parts readily available .
The electric starter is academic as I prefer kickstart anyway , I was weaned on Norton 750s and Brit singles ,so I regard 'leccy starters as a bit poofy .
Vibration ? Well I haven't noticed so far - have you ever ridden a Triumph 500 or a Norton Atlas ?- those b*stards really vibrate .
It has the benefit of a twinshock swingarm , so when I get to "far away places" and I break a shock ,I should be able to buy one locally and not have to wait for weeks for one to arrive from home [with an exorbitant freight and Customs charge ] .
It's a simple bike , pre electronic igntion and pre computer AND I can definitely state that ,should the bike need welding , I will not have to fly technicians in from Europe to make the brakes work again .

For the places I want to go in the future , I think the bike will fit in well and not draw attention like a new bike would .

The bikes were more or less given to me and therefore I felt compelled to make something out of them .I would not pay the price for a restored example and then tear it down to convert it to an adventure touring bike .
If I was in the market for an "over the counter" adv bike I would be looking for a DR 650 - or maybe something bigger if a lot of paved roads were envisaged .

But in the meantime I will tinker with my old Yams and try to make a GOOD bike out of them .
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  #10  
Old 29 Dec 2006
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Talking

Hi Dodger,
I briefly met you, and saw your bike at the Horizons meeting in Nelson.
I think your bike is fine. It looked well set-up, and thought out, and will only get better, as you customize it for your own use and style.
Everyone travels differently, but I have always liked, Older, slower, proven, fixable bikes.( I have the old red R80RT BMW with the stickers all over it)
You already posess one of the most important needs to travel on a bike, and that is understanding how your bike works and being able to fix it on the road.
Liking and trusting your bike releives alot of stress when you are travelling in unfamiliar territory.
Fix it up, take it out, and enjoy it...
Thats what it is all about.
Cheers,See you on the Road.
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  #11  
Old 13 Jan 2007
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Thanks " Cameron " ,I remember our chat and recognise your bike from photos I have seen on the internet , it's a well travelled machine !

Winters are long up here in northern BC and as I am not a snow enthusiast , meddling with bikes in the basement is my winter entertainment .
I have a new pannier arrangement in mind and a belly pan with tool compartment ,we'll see what developes .

All the best for 2007 .
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"When you come to a fork in the road ,take it ! When you come to a spoon in the road ,take that also ."
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  #12  
Old 13 Jan 2007
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CX500 chopper

Hi ChopperCharles,

Saw your CX500/650 chopper on your website. Nice bike.
Together with my friend Mario, we build two choppers in 1983/1984
I chopped my BSA A10 and Mario his CX500.
Longer forks, paintjob, seat, sissybar etc.
Spending days and nights in the garage with bikes, music, coffee and ... those were the days :-)
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The bike I ride is a Honda GoldWing GL1200 Aspencade and sometimes a 1978 Honda CB400T
http://jkrijt.home.xs4all.nl/ (my personal homepage with trip reports)
http://www.krijtenburg.nl/HU_BoZ/ (The HU Motorcycle Travellers Community in my area)
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  #13  
Old 28 Jan 2007
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Old travel story

This is the story of a trip to Ushuaia by a guy on an XS650 .
http://www.geocities.com/foraster/tdf.html
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"When you come to a fork in the road ,take it ! When you come to a spoon in the road ,take that also ."
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  #14  
Old 11 Sep 2010
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Touring on an XS650

I know this is a few years later than the thread, but a friend and I just got back from a 5,580-mile tour of the western U.S. on a pair of cheap '81 XS650s. over four weeks, Of course we had to work on them, but that was part of the plan... Mostly small stuff, the biggies were a fried alternator rotor and a broken swingarm pivot shaft. We ended up running the alternator-less bike total loss, hardly ever using the headlight and running off the battery that had been charged the day before in the other bike, and we were able to drill and tap for a bolt in the end of the pivot shaft that held it together for the last 2000 miles or so. It was the best vacation I ever had.
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  #15  
Old 11 Sep 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbbishop2 View Post
I know this is a few years later than the thread, but a friend and I just got back from a 5,580-mile tour of the western U.S. on a pair of cheap '81 XS650s. over four weeks, Of course we had to work on them, but that was part of the plan... Mostly small stuff, the biggies were a fried alternator rotor and a broken swingarm pivot shaft. We ended up running the alternator-less bike total loss, hardly ever using the headlight and running off the battery that had been charged the day before in the other bike, and we were able to drill and tap for a bolt in the end of the pivot shaft that held it together for the last 2000 miles or so. It was the best vacation I ever had.
Excellent !

You can now buy permanent magnet alternators from Sparx ,which do away with the rotor windings and are therefore very reliable .A cheaper way is to use the alternator from a Banshee quad .Once you've done the alternator conversion you have remedied the Achille's Heel of the XS650.
Mike's XS do a strengthened swing arm pivot bolt .
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