XS650 Street Tracker by Michel van Rossen

XS650 Street Tracker
Photo: Laurens Olijve

Today, we’re thrilled to feature a bike we’ve loved for years:  Michel van Rossen’s XS650 tracker.  The Netherlands has become a hotbed of custom motorcycle culture, and Michel van Rossen, a native of Amsterdam, is a friend and colleague of Arjan van den Boom of Ironwood Custom Motorcycles, whose CX500, XS650, and R100 we’ve recently featured.

As Michel points out, he did not start out as an XS650 enthusiast, but like many, he was drawn to the cheap and simple parallel twin.  The build began as a fairly tame cafe racer, but like many another great design, acquisition of a unique gas tank pushed the bike in another direction.  We will let Michel explain the rest.

XS650 Tracker
Sharing a Shot with Ironwood Custom’s CX500

Dutch XS650 Tracker:  In the Builder’s Words

I was not an XS650 enthusiast from the start. But I needed a cheap and simple engine to use in my frame build school project. Internet was not common good at that time so I bought an imported XS650 at the XS650 specialist (Heiden tuning) I passed daily on my way to school.

XS650 Cafe Racer
Early Cafe Racer Build

After finishing the school project the bits slept in the back of the shed for years waiting for better days.
First I built a cafe racer of the bike. But after repeated problems with the fiberglass gas tank and the Dutch E10 containing petrol, I decided to go for an aluminum tank. During the search I found a YZ400 gas tank on Ebay for little money. The shipment from the US to The Netherlands was more expensive than the price of the beautiful part.

This small tank does not fit on a cafe racer, so why not rebuild the bike to a street tracker? This was not done a lot here in The Netherlands, but I liked the look. And the ride should be a lot more comfortable than lying on a gas tank.

Yamaha XS650 Streettracker

The engine was already modified for the cafe racer. I only replaced the 710cc Wiseco piston rings and valve seals. The sidecar MX camshaft, racing valvesprings and valves remained. For the Mikuni 34mm carburetors I placed different needles, jet holders and return springs. The return springs are weaker than the origional to be able to fit a Domino racing gas grip. The typical for cafe racer conical K&N airfilters are replaced by dirt track cylindrical ones.

The cafe racer was kick-only, but I’m also getting older so the starter motor was put back on it again. This needed a bigger battery and to be able to place it some curved inlet manifolds are mounted. This gives the bike a nice chunky waist due to to the filters that are outside the contour of the bike.

XS650 Dirt Track Air Filters

The Supertrapp makes a nice sound. Not too loud but sufficient to replace the need of a horn.

The XS is in this shape for a few years now. And sometimes the feel of selling it to make room for a new project cross my mind. I always say it’s just old metal and plastics with some chrome and paint but after having this bike for over 20 years now, I’m getting attached to this old junk…


Iron Wood Customs 1


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  4. XS whisperer

    Your XS street tracker looks fabulous. I’m trying to do the same and if it’s half a pretty as yours I’ll be delighted.
    Your front spoke carrying hub carries two discs as I plan for mine. What bike does it come from? I’m on dbrofe@gmail.com if you can reply. Thanks

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