A two-up tracker for a Texas young gun and his lady…
Colt Wrangler has quite possibly the best name of any custom builder in the world — and the skills, style, and heart to back it up. We were lucky enough to meet Colt at last year’s Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas, where he’d brought a stunning Honda CL175 built for Bexar Goods.
At only 26 years old, Colt has been building bikes for more than half a decade, with most of his work now being commissioned builds. As is so often the case, client builds end up taking precedence over his own ride. About a year go, Colt sold his one and only personal motorcycle. Fortunately, friends don’t let friends fail to ride. Colt’s buddy Tanner handed over his 1981 Yamaha XS650, saying:
“I don’t care what you do to it or when you bring it back.”
For Colt, the bike had to meet two criteria: 1) be able to race some hooligan flat track, and 2) be able to carry his girlfriend. The result is this street-legal-ish, two-up XS650 tracker, built with the “whatever works” mentality of the old-school hot-rodder. Below, we get the full story from the young gun himself, along with an array of photos from Ian Ellenwood (@ian.e.photography).
Yamaha XS650 Street Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Colt Wrangler Lyons (I know it’s hard to believe) and I’m 26 years old. I started playing with my own bikes at home about 6 years ago and once I realized that I had a knack for customizing, I started Colt Wrangler Motorcycles in 2015. My shop is currently based in New Braunfels, Texas, focused on custom motorcycle design and fabrication. The majority of my work is commissioned builds.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Yamaha XS650 1981.
• Why was this bike built?
My friend Tanner Kothmann owns the bike. He builds bikes out of his garage as a hobby and this bike was one of his first projects that he had built into a cafe racer. About a year ago I sold my only motorcycle, a custom H-D Sportster street tracker, to purchase a new TIG welder and some metal shaping tools. Tanner realized that I had a need for a bike and he had a need for more garage space so he offered me the bike. He said, “I don’t care what you do to it or when you bring it back.” Great deal right?
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I was able to enter a few Hooligan races in the past with my Sportster, so I really wanted something that I could take to a race or two and take my girlfriend out on. It was really just those two functions that dictated the design process. It had to be a tracker, it had to be street legal-ish, and it had to be able to carry two people.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Before I got ahold of it, it already had a new set of Mikuni carburetors, the Pamco electronic ignition with E-advance, straight pipe exhaust, and battery/air box delete with pod filters.
For the rear half of the bike, I added an 18” rear wheel, 1” rear shock extenders, tail hoop, universal Ebay seat, rear fender from a Triumph T100, MX pegs, LED tail light mounted to a custom license plate bracket, and a set of custom exhaust mufflers, with steel scrubbing pads inside for added baffling (whatever works).
For the front half, I used a gas tank off of a Yamaha DT175E, a set of tracker bars that a friend gave me, a brake lever turned upside down for the clutch (again, whatever works), and a custom number plate with small LED bars so that people can see me (like I said, street legal-ish).
Also added were a set of used Shinko Trail Pro tires, XSCharge PMA kit with a capacitor from Mikes XS, and a starter delete using an automotive freeze plug. The bike is kick start only. I used some pipe fittings from a hardware store for the petcock so that the tank would fit. Cost $12 (WHATEVER WORKS).
Side note: It’s said that you can’t run the E-advancer with a capacitor, but with my experience you can with minimal LED lighting.
• How would you classify this bike?
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The mufflers. I’m considering offering them as a product, through my online store.