From unloved barn-find to stunning street tracker!
The Yamaha XS650 is one of our favorite platforms, with a punchy parallel twin that recalls the British twins of old. Though the XS lends itself to a number of custom styles, it truly excels with street and brat tracker builds.
Enter Paul of Kustom_Moto, an experienced track rider and current bike builder in the UK. Paul imported this 1978 Yamaha XS650 from the United States in rough condition — a rusty, filthy, “very unloved barn-find.” However, he was up for the challenge, looking for an opportunity to test himself on physical and mental levels. The result is the stunning XS650 tracker you see here.
Below, we get the full story from Paul himself!
Yamaha XS650 Brat Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Paul, I’m 43 and have owned all kinds of bikes. Riding for 25 years, mainly European and UK Trackdays but a serious injury almost 5 years ago put a stop to that — so have focused now on building them! I have taken my knowledge from the track to the street where I can now create cool custom bikes the way I want, in my own space and my own time.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Yamaha XS650 1978
• Why was this bike built?
I built the bike because I wanted to see how far I could push myself both mentally and physically, and to see how much I could learn from it. Was especially challenging because it arrived from the States a very unloved barn-find, filthy dirty – and rusty! Despite challenges I loved every minute and hope to do another XS in the future.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design concept was simple, to create a classic looking XS, maintain the 70’s look but add in modern twists and features.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
A custom stainless exhaust with scrambler style mufflers, Daytona electronic speedo, handmade leather seat with built in LED tail light, re-located ignition, lowered springs, custom paint and scrambler style bars make this XS different from the norm.
• How would you classify this bike?
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m particularly proud of learning how to make carbs and engine run in tune together – very satisfying when you are used to modern electronic ignitions!