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.
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.
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.
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.