Yamaha XS650 Scrambler by Therapy Garage

Yamaha XS650 Scrambler

The Yamaha XS650 is one of our favorite platforms for custom builds. That parallel twin is a beauty, reminiscent of the British twins of yore, and the bike makes a killer tracker or scrambler. So we were thrilled to come across “Jolie,” an ’81 XS650 built by Therapy Garage of Oceanside, California.

Headman Toby Reed already owns a ’77 XS650, and he built this bike for his best friend, so the two of them could burn up some fire roads together.  They wanted the scrambler to look like an off-road bike while remaining street-legal and highway-ready.  As Toby says,

“Built for the trails, but road ready.”

That meant clean controls and minimized electronics. The bike hardly looks street-legal at a glance, yet it’s running front and rear turn signals and even an alarm system.

XS650 Scramblers
The only thing better than an XS650 is two of them.

We’ll let Toby give you the full scoop below.

“Jolie” XS650 Scrambler:  In the Builder’s Words


Several weeks ago we finished a 1977 XS650 build that I had planned to sell, then received a trade offer for a 1981 XS650. I convinced my best friend that he and I both needed a scrambler in our personal collections. So I kept the ’77 and built the ’81 to my buddy’s preference. I let him pick the tires, tank color, grips, and tech, etc. But I maintained veto power. We fast-tracked the build because I was chomping at the bit to get these two on a fire road or dirt trail and dirty the tires. We acquired the bike on June 20 and the first ride was on August 7.

XS650 Scrambler

We are proud to have done all of the work in house from the powder coating to the upholstery.

The goal was to make a street legal motorcycle that was fully capable of highway commuting while looking as if it were made for off road. We used a remote master cylinder for the front disk brake to keep the bars super clean. We also used a headlight and a tail light with integrated LED turn signals. The bike looks far from street legal at a glance.

XS650 Motone Switches

The most exciting part of this build was the tech we threw at it. With Motogadget products we made this bike pretty tech. Every wire on the bike is new. We installed the m-Unit, m-Lock, motoscope mini gauge, and minimal push button switches from Motone. The small electronics box under the seat houses an Antigravity Li Ion battery, reg/rec, starter solenoid, and the m-Unit.


The LED strip tail light with integrated signals and the headlight with integrated LED signals keep the bike super clean. Additionally, the motoscope mini gauge has tachometer and speedometer function electronically without any cables. We’re very pleased with how clean the overall build turned out.


Photos by Nathan Colwell.

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  1. Interesting. I’m not seeing the tach, speedo, tail light or remote master cylnder. The foot pegs are in the stock position, which is too far forward for any real off-road riding. The full knobby tires must be a ton of fun riding on the pavement commuting to work!

    • Pictures 5 and 6 you can see the motoscope mini right in front of the handlebars, it’s small, and has both functions. Tail light is an led strip under the rear frame hoop, although you can’t see it in this photo set. Also if you look at the pictures and follow the front brake line it appears to go under the tank, so I would assume it’s stuffed in the gap under there. As far as the pegs, the stock position is fine for “off road,” the real issue would be weight and clearance, but for fire roads they scoot just fine.

  2. Hello from France !! Do you kept the original front wheel on this project ? Or is it upsized ?

  3. Daniel McLean

    Did you custom make the seat or is it available aftermarket. Thanks for any info. I am experimenting with building a seat. With mixed results lol.
    Dan M

  4. What size tires are those front and rear?

  5. Hello! Please let us know what tires and sizes. Much appreciated!

  6. James d Theissen

    I see the aft brackets (for the passenger foot pegs) are removed. What did you do about the rear brake switch? Thanks

  7. can you point me in the right direction for replacing the original headlight and adding in the blinkers? PLEASE. I cant find anything here

  8. Beautiful build. I just picked up an old xs 650 with intentions of getting it running first, then doing something interesting like this. If mine turns out half as good it will be a miracle! Love the li ion battery, and smooth simple looks of this machine!

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