The Dark Horse: Yamaha XS650 Custom

Yamaha XS650 Custom

Yasashii Garage’s Yamaha XS650 Custom Roadster… 

According to the Merriam Webster definition, a dark horse is “a usually little known contender (such as a racehorse) that makes an unexpectedly good showing.” You could make a good case that the Yamaha XS650 was a dark horse itself.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

Introduced in 1969, it was Yamaha’s first-ever four-stroke motorcycle, based largely on the charismatic but temperamental British twins from companies like Triumph and Norton. However, the XS650 was no direct copy of its old English antecedents. The XS650 parallel-twin was, in fact, one of the most advanced engines of the time, featuring unit construction, horizontally-split crankcases, and SOHC valve operation. It was oil-tight, reliable, and even earned a tongue-in-cheek nickname:

“The best British bike never made…”

Yamaha XS650 Custom

Enter our new friend Franky Mory of Indonesia’s Yasashii Garage. Franky is not only a builder, but painter and pin-striper who’s earned a reputation as one of his country’s top builders since opening his shop in 2006.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

The owner of this ’78 XS650 was looking for a bike that would blend old-school café racer style and influences with a modern touch. Franky rebuilt the subframe with custom bracings and shaped up a new tail section in a retro boxy pattern. He then converted the twin-shock rear suspension to a mono-shock system with banana-style swingarm, which he says works very well.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

The bike is now rolling on 17-inch spoke wheels with modern Dunlope rubber, with the front hub running an inboard disc brake to give it the look of an old-school vented drum. Other highlights include the custom tank, rear-set controls, LED lighting, custom exhaust with Arrow silencer, and custom fenders — carbon in the rear.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

Appropriately nicknamed the “Dark Horse,” this build has quickly become one of our favorite XS650 customs. Below, we talk to Franky for more details on the build.

Yamaha XS650 Custom: Builder Interview

Yamaha XS650 Custom

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?

My name is Franky Mory and I’m a motorcycle builder from Bandung, Indonesia. My workshop is Yasashii Garage, established in 2006.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?

Yamaha XS650, 1978.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

• Why was this bike built?

This bike was made according to customer requests for a custom XS.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

The style was a cafe racer concept with a modern feel. I designed it according to customer requests because customers like vintage designs with some modern style and touch.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

• What custom work was done to the bike?

To reinforce the modern style of this old motorbike, I applied a banana-style swingarm with a working monoshock system, and a special racing wheel application — namely, I employed a front braking system with inboard disc brake, which is hidden in the hub itself so that it has a weighty vintage racing look.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

Wheel size is 17” front and rear, with Dunlop Sport Maxx Race tires. Front tire size: 120/70 x 17 / Rear: 150/70 x 17.

For the frame, I only made changes to the rear to strengthen the character of the cafe racer itself.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

• Does the bike have a nickname?

This motorbike has the nickname of the Dark Horse.

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?

To ride this motorbike, powered as it is by the legendary engine from the Yamaha XS650, is really something exciting.  For an older bike, it has surprising power — enough to keep you alert.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

With every project, I’m always proud of the completed product, especially as the builder. That is, what I make is satisfying and can be well appreciated by the customer; moreover, it can inspire a lot of people. That’s the best.

Yamaha XS650 Custom

Follow the Builder

Instagram: @yasashiigarage | @yasashiigarageapparel | @yasashii.strg
Facebook: Yasashii Garage
YouTube: Yasashii Garage
Photos: @ukyhaydir


  1. Killer XS!

  2. A me non piace…
    Non la trovo assolutamente bilanciata, già il fatto che il fanale anteriore supera la linea del serbatoio sbilancia tutto, ma in tutte le moto è così, non voglio dire altro.

  3. Jerry Howell

    Have 1978 & 1982 ready to build all the factory parts or make a street tracker

  4. Nice build. Functionality might be out the window but it is pretty. I’d sure like to see some pictures of the beautiful burn scar tattoos on the riders inner knees after a few ” oh shoot” moments clamping down .on those heads and screaming HOT point covers ????. I bought a welders asbestos sheeve for my right knee when I programed a big yama twin in the vets class at our favourite flattrack back in the 90’s fyi is all … Bumpy 25z

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