View Full Version : philbey's Australian XS650 build

02-02-2010, 10:46 PM
Gday guys,

This is a thread I started on another forum about 12 months ago and I've decided to migrate it across to CC; I thought I'd pull across all the relevant posts and all the pics etc. I'll put the approximate dates in so that you can see the pseudo time-line. Just hold off posting in this thread if you can until I've got all of it up.

Basically my build has been underway for just over a year, it's taking a painful amount of time, but it's getting there! Enjoy.


02-02-2010, 10:46 PM
Story begins circa 2007; Always ridden Ning-Nings off road as a lad, but never got bitten by the bug, although my old man foams at the mouth about bikes. First got excited when I saw a Deus TW200 on the road, like this:


This is the first bob/chop I ever paid attention too and it blew my mind:

So I started reading up a bit, chasing pics of custom Triumphs and BSA's on the interweb and eventually started reading DicE. For a couple of years I watched Ebay keeping an eye out for a cheap triumph to customise, with little success. Basket-cases are hard to come by here in Aus, and I don't want to slice up a restored or original condition item. Yet. Not only that, but they are pulling top dollar.

I eventually came across the Yamaha XS60, a Jap ripoff of the 60's triumphs twins. Although the XS650's are much more reliable, simple, electric start etc, the traditionalists aren't big fans. I saw them as a good cheap alternative to built my skills and learn about bikes without butchering an expensive classic.

02-02-2010, 10:48 PM
Feb 2009

Finally scored a bike off Ebay back in December - well 7 boxes of bits makes about 0.85 of a bike. The original XS650 frame had the swingarm rear end sliced off ready for a hardtail, one motor (on the right) was partially assembled with a fresh build, then there is a second motor in pieces. Missing front end, wheels and brakes, but $622 was a good price:


I haven't done a whole lot given that I'm gunning to get the rolla going first, but last week I took posession of a TC Brothers weld on hardtail, about 450 Australian delivered from the US:

I fitted it up to the cut stock frame and I was blown away at the fit:


I'm hoping I can clean it up and get it down to a welding shop next weekend to get it welded solid. Next things are to chase up a stock front end an some wheels and I can basically start bolting it all up!

This rig is one I found the other day and I'll draw plenty of styling and stance cues from. Most XS650 bobbers look like a smashed crab, but this is one of the cleanest I've seen. Hardly even know it was a yam with it's custom side crankcase covers:


Its well done because they haven't gone overboard with the stretch on the frame, which is the typical mistake as it leaves a lot of open space between the back of the motor and the rear fender. Because the Early british stuff all run oil tanks and pre-unit gearboxes, that space is taken up.

I plan on running a harley sportser tank and these style of clubman bars like this rocket:


The exhausts are probably a little excessive, but I am keen to run twin side by side like that, just not with the crazy kick-ups!

02-02-2010, 10:48 PM
Feb 2008

I'll get the first engine running in stock format, then I reckon I'll go to town on the second motor I've got - you can get 840cc big bore kits for them, run that with a monster cam, that'd be unreal!!!@#! Set of 34mm mikunis with big ass trumpets and it'll be a real menace....

Scored these puppies on Ebay tonight, pick em up next week I hope. Run them upside down, like on the goldy greeny metalflaked bike....


Got a few bits and pieces lined up to buy so I can hopefully get her rolling real soon....

02-02-2010, 10:49 PM
Mar 2008

Got a mustang tank I bought on ebay. Still undecided if I like it though. I dropped it on the frame and its bloody gargantuan. I dig the profile, and the twin caps but its so damn wide and the squared off tail on it galls me just a little.

I think I'll get the cutting disc on it and section 2 inches out of the centreline, and narrow the tunnel slightly.


Also bought a Green Metalflake seat for this rocket! Yeah! Gaudy.

Even If I don't use it I'll hang it on the wall, look the shit! I was thinking metalflake green as the main colour on the bike anyway, so if this is a good colour I'll be laughing.


02-02-2010, 10:50 PM
March 2008

Got my metalflake seat arrived in the post. Awesome, but now I'm rethinking my colour scheme slightly. I'm thinking metlaflake black base colour on the tank with white panels on the sides, similar on the rear gaurd.

Scored a front end on the weekend as well, just need to sort out a rear wheel and Its basically ready to all bolt together!

April 2008

Yeh some minor updates. Took the frame down to a welder last week for him to take a look at. I'll head round his place this week and we'll get it jigged up and welded.

I've also managed to get the last major bits and pieces, I bought a stock front end and spoked wheel, and a spoked drum rear wheel went in the post for me yesterday. Once the welding's done then there's not much stopping me!

One of the boys at work put me onto his mate, a pro welder. We did some tacking and measuring to check dimensions. I've left it with him to finish the rest of the welding.

Frame set up on the bench to check measurements:

First pass, tacking up the hardtail:

And more welding. Note the casual, upside down torch technique:

Stress makes it look simple!

02-02-2010, 10:52 PM
Jun 2008 (brief hiatus)

Collected a bunch more bits, but I'm struggling to get motivated..... Rear wheel sorted, need a tyre though. Just a few brake bits and pieces needed here and there as well, but It's basically ready to start assembling....

I've been reading this thread for inspiration; http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719041, the guy is pretty dedicated. This is a good read even if your not that interested in bikes, just to see how he's tackled/fabbed various bits and pieces.

This is his final product - very clean:


(this is punkskalars bike, now a CC member)

02-02-2010, 10:53 PM
Early September 2008

Words from another member posted in the other forum: G`day mate, nice work so far. Being as old as I am I thought that your comparison of Triumph to Yamaha was a bit tough. Yes the japs saw a market and, as usual developed an already popular design and vastly improved it. I`v had both brands over the years, along with a lot of others and I personally would have an XS before any of the Brit oil leakers anyday.
Anyway, having said that, I used to use an xs650b motor in my compact speedcar back in the early eighties. Because there was no such thing as a big bore kit available then, a mate of mine and myself started searching the parts books and discovered that, with a bit of modification we could use 500cc speedway Jawa/Eso pistons and liners. The gudgeon pin and deck height are the same and it takes the sedate little 650 out to an impressive 903cc. It didn`t need a huge cam and the stock valves are big enough to handle the job. There should still be stocks of these pistons/liners available because people are still riding the old speedway bikes at vintage meetings etc.
Anyway, good luck with the build and I hope that my info is of some use to you.

Never looked into this any further but it sounds like a ball tearer of a modification.

Anyway some more progress...

The Green metalflake seat is growing on me to the point that I decided to get some matching vintage girl-bike handgrips. Also picked up an Amal throttle off an early brit bike, got 2 cheap on ebay, I'll probably clean one up and flog it off.

Behold the awesomeness. I also picked up another Tank, this is off a BSA bantam, a much smaller bike. The tank is a great size without the need to slice it up. These are some mockup pics in the shed:

And this time in the sun. Got a new tyre for the rear as well, a nice Avon. Note the Milo tin taped into the frame to mock up a dummy oil tank/toolbox.

Hope to get the front end on this weekend so it'll start looking like a motorbike.

02-02-2010, 10:54 PM
Late September 2008
A bit more progress. I've slapped the front forks on so it's a roller now. I had issues with the bloody fork tubes, I'll need to spend more money as I'm missing just enough fiddly little bits on these ones to make it painful. Easier to buy a good complete secondhand set.

I left the spacers out of the forks, so it's about 3 inches lower at the front than stock. Very Drag bike looking. I will probably lower the bike a bit, but I'll get proper springs for it.

I've borrowed a TIG welder off my mate so I'll get around to tacking on the seat bracket and other bits on shortly.





Color - not sure yet but possibly a dark grey with a platinum/gold lace panel on it....! crazy. I reckon that'll go with the metalflake green!

Damn, I quite enjoy taking something that comes in a lot of boxes and piecing it back into something that works but hell, the worst thing about this project is the fact that I just don't quite know what bits I'm missing. I just need a lathe, so all the little axle collars, washers and junk I need I could just make em up as I go.

Got the handle bars on (crude little temporary brackets) and it looks tough. The All Bike swapmeet might net me a couple of seat springs, so I'll tack the seat on, and I'll slap on the pegs and levers to get an idea of the riding position.

02-02-2010, 10:54 PM
October 2008

I went to the bike swapmeet this weekend and scored a set of saddle springs for the seat. Running 4 inchers for the moment, by the time I shift the mounts forward it should be a good riding position.

Was going to tack the seat mounts on but I ran out of Argon welding up a bench for my little shed I'm putting up. Back to BOC I go....

More work done. I got the seat bracket tacked on (thats always fun given the money I paid for it – biltwell investment cast brackets are the ducks guts people!). Mounted the springs on the seat. Bought some nice coped bungs to mount the lower end of the seat and tacked them to the crossbar.

Cross bar shifted up slightly as well.

Not convinced yet. The seat looks quite far forward, the wheel is right back at the moment though so that will look better when it comes forward. The springs are 4 inch, but I reckon it might work better with 3 inchers. I'll think about it....

I really need to get my actual camera out to get pics of this......

02-02-2010, 10:55 PM
Late October 2008
So I got my actual camera out and took some actual photos. In the daylight and all.

fabbed up some crude peg mounts and I reckon the seat is too far forward. It's going to be a pain, but I'll shift it back about 2 inches.... A real pain because I have to take to my expensive (but Crazy *twirl*) looking seat bracket with the grinder. All good.

The gap between motor and rear wheel will also fill up with things like batteries, 6 pack esky, 8-ball in a sock hanger and maybe a little 1L fuel tin for when I run it out of petrol.

Been researching the electrics too; It'll be basically an on switch, starter, headlight and brakelight circuits. Indicators, pfffft.



Note the project haircut below.


02-02-2010, 10:56 PM
December 2009

Long time no update. Pics to come this weekend.

I cut off and remounted the seat bracket further back on the frame. In the pics previously, it was just too high and too far forward, looked goofy. It's come back about 60mm, doesn't sound like much but it's a huge improvement. Also reangled the springs so that I can pull it forward in the hinge bracket, it's slotted for about 2 inch movement.

Bought some cool oldschool pegs. Mmmm Vintagey.

Went to Bendigo swapmeet. Picked up a triumph front fender, ribbed for her pleasure and duckbilled. Pics to come. Old school Gold-Red fade paintwork with Lacework over the top. Needs panelwork, started filling holes last night.... More TIG practice.

Also picked up a 21inch Akront front wheel, I'll get that laced to a drum I think, might put it on the next bike

Alrighty, a couple more pics. The shifting of the seat is very subtle but as soon as I did it it looked instantly better. It's come back about 60mm and down slightly, it sits a bit flatter and the riding position is much better. I've made some dirty brackets to test try some pegs which I should have done before I put the seat on.


This is with the ribbed ducktail fender sitting on the back wheel as well, and a nice sun flare effect. Accidentally saved over this pic in a lower res so I lost the clean, noise free pic I took which is a bummer.


I hand fabbed some mount plates for my second set of pegs last night, I'll get some pics through shortly. Just sketched up what I wanted on some 6mm Flat stock and carved away with the Angle Grinder. It's amazing what you can do with a bit of forethought.

Next step is to cut and shut that rear fender to shorten it and get rid of the nasty dented bits. I've already welded up the holes in it and I need to file finish them. There's some other bits that need beating out too, so I'll take a trip to the tool shop for some dollies and gear. I've got some stainless flat to fab up a couple of brackets to hold the fender in place and the beginnings of a sissy bar out of some 10mm rod.

In the next couple of weeks, I want to get stuck right into modifying the tank; nothing too serious (in chopped bike terms), just filling in the square section over the backbone and making up the frame mounts. Also I'll weld in some bungs for a tube sight gauge.

Square bit to fill in on tank. Note that this is the OLD mount position for the seat, I’ve since moved it back about 65mm:


Sight Gauge kit from Marc at Kilby deuce:

02-02-2010, 10:58 PM
January 2010
More progress, though not as much as I'd like. Got stuck into the other projects rather than the bike but here's some bits and pieces:

Made some plates to mount up the new (old) pegs. Not bad but after I did it I discovered how someone chopped up factory peg mounts to use in the same manner and I think I prefer it... Damn. These will do for now, I'll radius the corners and chamfer everything and get them powdercoated.

Here's my fender. You can see the holes I've been patching up. The block of wood is to guide my way as I CUT THIS BABY!

And here some tape for final cuts before welding it up:

I cut out about 3 inches of fender that was dented to shit, and I'll weld it together again. The final product will be about the right length so all's well. Started welding back together. Still getting the hang of HF tig welding:

Made a mount for my brake lever:

And a brake stay tab for the rear drum:

Check my how to on the metal fab work http://www.chopcult.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2151 . I'm really getting into this make-your-own bits do, good fun and pretty rewarding when you get it right.

It's amazing what you can make with a bit of careful though and an angle grinder.

02-02-2010, 10:59 PM
Later Jan 2010
More goodies arrived yesterday from the US – an oil tank kit from Lowbrow customs (to house my Electrickery), some fuel hose and a throttle, pics to come. I got onto the Lowbrow boys and asked if I could get one of their dummy tank kits without the oil fittings and what not, I intend to make a clean looking tank for some electrics and maybe a tool roll. Might do another how-to

02-02-2010, 11:03 PM
Current Day;

Ok so that's the background on my ride. It's taken a while but it's been fun so far, I'm still enthused!

Basically, I just bought an RD400 front end, they run 34mm forks basically the same as the XS. To my surprise one side has been shaved too which is good. Also scored a working caliper and master cylinder, which I was missing.

The front end on the bike looks complete, but it's missing just enough small internal parts to be a real pain in the arse, I just bought the RD one to slap on. RD triple trees almost exactly the same EXCEPT the steering stem is shorter.

There's basically no excuse now, it's just some hard work. I do need to make axle spacers but that's pretty easy.

Also bought me some chain tensioners off Andy at pangea speed, cheers for them man, got them in the post a couple of days ago! I just need to drill them out, I liked the design of your 3/4 tensioners more so I bought em!

02-02-2010, 11:17 PM
Nice work, Philbey. It'll be cool to see this thing finished and on the road.

02-03-2010, 12:45 AM
Yeh cheers Bill. I'm looking forward to it as well, I was hoping to get it done within 12 months, or at least running for a squirt around the block!

Funnily enough, there's plans to build a second one on the cards already..... that's a story for another day.

02-03-2010, 3:53 AM
Glad to see someone is taking longer with their build than me!!! I feel much better.
Excellent write up Philbey. Great to see the learning experience and full of Aussie poetry. 'most XS's look like a smashed crab'. Brilliant. Man I miss that about oz...
Deus ex machina make some seriously sick stuff so easy to see why you got bit...
You're gettin there.... Keep on building on fella and keep updating.

02-03-2010, 5:23 AM
cheers alfonso. I reckon the fact that I started with so many boxes of bits is the reason it's taken this long, just tracking down those fiddly bits that I didn't get. Next build I'll wisen up and get me a complete bike, maybe a runner!

as for the Aussie Poetry, I actually edited it a fair bit from it's original form!

02-03-2010, 9:02 AM
I like this one....

I wonder what the seat might look like spaced back just a bit more with the stretch you have... How tall are you?

02-03-2010, 1:43 PM
cheers alfonso. I reckon the fact that I started with so many boxes of bits is the reason it's taken this long, just tracking down those fiddly bits that I didn't get. Next build I'll wisen up and get me a complete bike, maybe a runner!

as for the Aussie Poetry, I actually edited it a fair bit from it's original form!

What?! Put it back in!!!!

Tell me about it... never built a bike before... started with a 54 preunit frame and engine.... built tons of pushies before... how much harder can it be right??!? Wrong! Man..... you're right. It's those little things that can reallllly hold it up and don't even get me started on matching parts from different years... http://www.chopcult.com/alfonso/albums/1762

Definitely agree on the seat thing - gotto come back a bit, maybe with smaller springs too? But see how that would be tricky on that frame without sliding balls first onto the rear wheel.... Mind you it might look fine once thes a guard on the rear wheel.

02-03-2010, 5:19 PM
most of the slang was part of the disucssion between members on the old forum (car forum) so I just left it all out, sorry cobber! haha.

As for the seat I actually haven't got a decent side shot with it in the new position further back, although this one shows it a little better. Remember the pics at the top of page 2 are in the old position.


I'll probably buy some 3 inch springs as well to see how they look, although I'll probably slide my arse off the back all the time.

I'm just under 6'3 and I've agonised quite a bit over the damn seat. I measured the peg-seat distances based on another motorbike I ride round a fair bit and it's fairl comfortable. I'm in a pickle now because I can't move the seat pivot back without a fair bit of difficulty, and if it comes lower I can't pull the shoulder bolt out.

I've also got to mount a fender, dummy oil tank and the Batt Box, so I'll see how it starts to look once that open real estate in the frame is filled with snot.

(I reckon it looks pretty tough in that pic above actually!)

02-03-2010, 5:22 PM
alfonso, just took a geez at your bike man, that's the shit! Pre unit triumphs are probably my dream bike, in a factory speed twin frame or something like that! The bloke I bought the XS off, I ran into him about 6 months later and he had moved on to building 2 mean looking pre units!

02-04-2010, 6:10 AM
Way better. Looking badass. Think it's partly the bright green takes your eye right to the seat. Once the rest of the bike is there it'll balance out. F*ckin LOVE that 3c bike you posted. You still going that way? Man look at the weather there... Sucks not being able to ride the dam thing eh! Is that a Kingswood in the background?!?

Thanks geeza!!! Been a long time coming.... I love it and it's breaking me not being able to get to it... Got a broken wrist right now. Arghhh... Finally got it after years of waiting for the right deal and the spare cash... sods law it was right at the time my son was born! Fast forward a year and a half of shitty nappies and no sleep and I'm finally getting somewhere with it.

02-04-2010, 6:36 AM
keep it up, philbey! she's looking good!

02-04-2010, 7:42 AM
I love the seat...but then again I may be biased!

02-04-2010, 10:25 AM
bike looks kick ass!
thanks for postin this over here,builds threads are the shit.
i am now eagerly awaiting updates to see how this thing turns out.keep postin,


02-04-2010, 7:31 PM
Yeh the seat is my favourite bit.

Weather was good that day the pic was taken, but it kicked into the 42-43 a couple of weeks later, only just getting a reprieve from the heat now.

As for the 3C bike, It was the first XS650 that really blew my mind when I found it on Knucklbuster, and was probably the tipping point where I thought - yep, I'll build one of these. I like the low front, low and forward tank look. I was originally going to use drag bars too but when I saw the inverted clubmans i thought damn that's mean looking!

Cheers for the comments, I'm hoping to get work on it tomorrow/sunday, so hopefully more pics!

alfonso, not quite a kingswood mate - a Corolla wags, my runabout. I did learn to drive in a kingswood though!


02-05-2010, 8:32 AM
Ahhh yeah I can see it now! Nice. Drove from Perth to Sydney in a fuct 68 Kingswood.... My fisrt car... It went a different way every time you braked... Man I loved that car!

02-05-2010, 9:17 AM
lookn good so far philbey. keep your head down. your gonna be so stoked when you ride it for the first time.

02-05-2010, 11:31 AM
dam she's purty. nice work man. keep it up.

02-06-2010, 1:00 AM
yeh the old HK kingswood. good times.

I just read up on Bad News on the front page, the combination of polished and satin finish cases with the black jugs really sets this rig off I reckon!


Pics of my progress soon folks.

02-06-2010, 9:57 PM
Righto the boys, some more pics. I didn't get much done, but I slapped on the RD400 fork tubes, basically the same as XS650 but the previous front end was missing bits. Also, the other front end was missing the 80mm internal spacers, so this one is higher. I'm surprised actually, the damn bike still looks low? Can't figure it out.





02-06-2010, 9:58 PM
I dig this 19 inch front but I'm keen as to roll that 21 incher I've got stashed away!

04-13-2011, 12:34 AM
I like it!! No more progress?

04-13-2011, 6:38 AM
that thing makes me want to roost on a roo!! :kill:



04-18-2011, 12:09 AM
No I've had a bit of a hiatus on the bike, been spending all the summer months down here doing some earthmoving/retaining wall building/plumbing/electrical work, ready to prepare for construction of my new Garage!

Basically, I've got a car and the motorbike in Dad's shed and it's much harder to get motivated to work on the project when it's not actually at home!

BUT, I did pick up a DT360 front wheel with drum for 15 bucks at a swap, 21inch chrome. That's even better than the alloy Akront 21.

Grabbed a few more bits along the way as well, new rear fender, taillights, etc so it hasn't come to a total halt.

07-10-2011, 6:19 PM
swap? in Melb?

07-11-2011, 12:55 AM
Yeh Ballarat swap back in Feb. My mate's still got the wheel actually, better get over there and pick it up!