Nick Murdock - Salt Lake City Utah Reviews his custom Yamaha XS650 Scrambler Build.
It all started with this donor bike I found listed on KSL.com. It was up in Ogden and to be honest the guy that sold it to me was a total weeny. Covid had not totally hit the world stage yet, and life was for the most part all but normal. I had recently finished a smaller build on my Honda Rebel. I will post another page about that one soon. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into but was full of energy and needed it to go into something.
The 1970's was an amazing decade for imported motorcycles there was over 500,000 Yamaha XS650's produced over the span of it's life so it makes a great donor bike for many of people entry into the bike building world. I was new to it and had to come up with a game plan from essentially nothing but books, Youtube and other documentation I could find online. Oh.. and of course my trusty XS650 CLYMER manual!
The process of building a bike when you have never done it is quite fun when you have no idea what you are getting yourself into. My recommendation is to fall in love with an idea, and when you are ready to call it quits, which many people do. Remember that end goal of riding your scrambler to what ever event you have your mind set on. That day will come, just keep your goal in mind. The best advice I can give is just simply do not give up.
Step 1, basically take every single thing apart bag it, tag it and set in on the shelf for a year while you do the work. Make sure you have a good electrical diagram of how you plan to wire everything before you take it all apart however, the more you know going into it, the more you will get out when you put it back together.
Step 2, if you are like me you want to learn how to do everything on your own. This is challenging, videos and websites can only get you so far. At some point the rubber meets the road and you have to just dig in and go for it. I did not realize that painting was so damn hard. I repainted my tank 5 times, and that is not an exaggeration. If you want to eliminate a huge headache, just don't paint her yourself. I did, and i'm glad now. But during the build it was the single worst part of everything.
Step 3, put her back together! Yep.. this is when stuff REALLY gets fun. After every bolt has been polished, and every custom mod you need to make is done. After everything you want off is cut, and all the last welds are done. You should be looking at a bunch of beautiful painted XS650 parts. The above photos shows the accumulation of 10 months of part time work.
Step 4, the first fire! This is a real thing. When you are done, and you want to see all of your hard work pay off and a glory of sound and you are ready to get the smell of gas in your face. This comes the point of the first fire. Will she start up? Well, if you didn't have to do a lot of engine work, and lucky for me I did not. The XS650 has a motor that I would related to an AK47. You can throw it in the dirt, dunk it in water, drop it off the back of a truck and it will still fire up! I love that damn engine! It is such a-hit in my book.
Step 5, get out there and show of your new toy. It might by 40 years old.. but people will think you are driving a brand new bike. And don't skimp out on the tech on the bike. I had plenty of people locally here in Salt Lake Utah that Moto gadget is too complicated. One guy at saltcitycycles.com told me it was garbage. Oh, another thing about local bike build companies. THEY SUCK, do it yourself, the attitude on those guys is unreal. Anyways, back to the tech. Don't listen to what anyone else says, it's expensive yes.. but it some German grade level hardware. It does not play around and is amazing from every way you look at it. Use it! Get out there and give me the moto wave when we pass on the road!