View Full Version : First time builder, 81 XJ650 Maxim

03-04-2016, 12:57 PM

Got my first bike a little bit ago, traded an old 81 Olds project car for it. Figured I'd rather not live inside a cage and wanted a little more freedom. Guy asked if I was interested in this Yamaha he had, I had no idea what it was but he was the first to offer a bike so I said sure, why not?

So then I learned it had kind of a pseudo-hardtail going on, that was ok but engineering wise it didn't really chooch for me. Picture is of a similar design, stock swingarm was mounted off the shock stud, This ain't the bike I got because I didn't really take a lot of pictures. Gives you an idea though. After sniffing around apparently it's the popular way to do it but eh.


So I took it apart and then some. You know what would of made this process easier? Knowing what I was doing probably woulda helped, turns out the engines so much easier pulled if you just turn the bike on its side.


So first things last I cut the gussets out that the original owner installed, I whipped up some of these, plasma cut freehand, tacked in place, heated and bent to match frame geometry then welded on to brace the frame.


I then amputated some pieces of frame and installed some new ones, slugged with 5" of 3/4" cold roll on each side.


Will continue cause I guess the image limit is 5.

03-04-2016, 1:00 PM
Lt. Dan you got new legs!


Ye Rear Fender of Olde which was in pretty roughish shape, dunno where this came from.


Shortened, cleaned up, ground n' primered.
Started farting around with obnoxious exhaust ideas.

03-04-2016, 1:05 PM
Started playing around with things, this was attempt number one, what I shoulda done was build around the original rear axle, so that's what I ended up doing, but here, this was a failure since the thing was woefully misaligned.


Progress, left the engine in with the drive shaft coupled so as to get the alignment right and the right load on that preload spring thing. Hand bent and tacked, made one side lower what to get mounting brackets for a thing and to clear the brake stuff.



Got the motor out again and got it up on the bench for welding porpoises, welded er up good n proper.


On the right hand axle plate I welded the original nut after installing threads on the original axle so I can yeah.. I dunno, now I just screw the axle in and pin it with the castle nut on the other side and it works.


03-04-2016, 1:06 PM

And this is where it's at as of yesterday, starting to dry fit everything before I make the things like struts and go about the rest of it.

03-05-2016, 3:13 AM
Looks a lot better. We are watching.

03-05-2016, 9:20 AM
I like what you're doing, but seriously- ditch the filter. Makes it hard as fuck to tell what's going on in half the pictures. Plus it makes you look like a twat.

Fab skills are awesome though dude, I look forward to seeing the future of this build.

03-05-2016, 10:33 AM
Ahaha, yeah sorry bout the filter, its either the vintage or grayscale, not much else I can do with my shitty S3 camera, the lights over at my friends shop at hps and throw this orange light which makes everything look the same unless I crank up the contrast or go black and white.

Thanks for the kudos on the fab skills, never really done anything like this before but it sure beats playing video games all the time.

03-05-2016, 1:13 PM
If this is your first go and you're just learning the ropes, you're going to be embarrassing the best once you get some practice. Those gussets look like they're cut on a CNC plasma, yet you did it freehand!? Super cool. And way more unique than the spiderwebs you replaced.

03-05-2016, 4:16 PM
I fumbled my wording there, all I did was think of what would make a cool gusset and install them, the owner of that shop and the one who is introducing me to the world of two wheels is the one who freehanded em. She's the absolute shit when it comes to making steel sing.


I do the rest but when it comes to quickly burning out something awesome, she's the shit. Plus she's letting me use her shop, tools, materials and answers lots of questions I have, much, much respect.

03-06-2016, 10:08 PM
Tried my hand at paint today laid the base for a thing.





The idea I have is that once that cures(?) I'll mask it off, then cut flames into it, then repaint the rest just plain gloss red, so I'll have these kinda, candy-ish looking flames, I think? It might be too cliche or something but I think it'll look okay.

03-07-2016, 10:21 AM
Nice job, fun seeing another XJ getting torqued in a weird direction. Its a surprisingly adaptable bike (or maybe not so surprising, since they sold in cruiser, sport touring, turbo, and full dresser versions).

Was wondering why you were chopping out the hard tail, but the exposed shaft is cool. If you go that far, I'd chop out the frame segments that have the swing arm pivots in them and replace them with something that flows better; those metal donuts that the swingarm bolts go in and are really ugly on the stock bike, and look very out of place now.

Are you planning to rake the neck? That's the only good reason I can think of for cutting away so much of the bracing on the head stock. Either way, you need to put some bracing back in there, unless maybe you don't plan on having a front brake.

03-07-2016, 10:39 PM
Still not decided on the front end yet, probably will not rake as I'm a newbie and don't want to play with trail too much. The backbone was replaced with a much thicker wall, larger diameter tube than the factory one but will be adding a gusset there when I figure out exactly what should go there.

Did some shit today. built some brackets for the rear fender, but kinda freehanded em.


Then I built a seat, out of a piece of scrap steel, some nuts n' bolts, a handheld riveter, some camping mattress foam and an old seat cover. The top of the bolt heads were ground nearly flat as not to poke my bum.


I'm still kinda winging this and I don't really know what I'm doing so I'm not sure if any of this is permanent.

03-08-2016, 10:22 PM
Painted the tank with flake today then got the fender all unfuckered, made my struts to hold it up on the back alongside those flamejob brackets, the struts are upright and bent to be flush with a 1/2" nut on them, a 1/2" bolt comes through the fender and pins it to the side, I drilled a hole through the bolt to run a wire through so I can screw some custom made tail light housings onto it and hide the wiring through the strut from under the fender.


Those ears that were for pinning the original swingarm are going to remain, having a stainless tank made to sit in between them and get pinned into place with the two original preload bolts, the tanks gonna have a petcock on one side, cap on the other.. my hooch storage.

03-09-2016, 7:15 AM
Just my $.02- don't use standard hardware on a metric bike- makes it that much harder to have a small tool kit.

03-10-2016, 12:59 AM
Westy, one mans 3/4 wrench is another mans 19mm, y'know?

1/2" nut/bolt requires a 3/4" wrench, or a 19mm. It's all perfectly legal.

Masked off and cut in my flames today, shot flake, shot flake, shot chromatic flake, shot chromatic flake, clear, flake with clear.. going to give it a few days to cure, 3000 grit it, then polish, then clear, clear, cleaaaaaar. This painting thing is a hoot.


03-10-2016, 7:02 AM
I've seen enough rounded bolts to always get the right wrench, lol.

Paint is looking great!

03-10-2016, 6:04 PM
The difference between 3/4" and 19mm is about 2 thou inch. Not all sizes have a clear cross over (there's no metric equivalent for 1/2") but 3/4" is one size that does cross over very near perfectly. In that case, if your bolt gets rounded, its the tolerances on the bolt or wrench or user error, not the fact there is a metric / imperial mismatch.

I did my whole custom front end on my XJ750 using standard size bolts and bearings, mostly because its a pain in the ass getting high strength metric bolts in the USA. I do have to have some extra wrenches, but its not a big deal. Not like I wouldn't need to own both anyhow. Since I built it myself, I literally know every bolt.

03-10-2016, 11:51 PM
I'm smoking what 53Bash is rolling, that's the thing, from having this bike apart and together, and apart and together, I know tooth to tit exactly what tools I need to make it chooch.

Not much progress today, I painted the rear fender with rocker guard rubber spraybomb, threw some flaky clear over it, then today went to layer up another coat and I have no idea what happened but it reacted bad and the rubber sagged hard and began to bubble. Paint stripper wasn't gonna remove it, wasn't gonna futz with a grinder and wire wheel to remove the rubber so I took the fender outside and cooked it with a tiger torch until all that was left was the metal.

Either going to give it a soaking in hammered tremclad and bake it or see about bedliner, the tank is fancy, not the fender since I plan on slapping stickers and beer labels on it as my adventures take off. That and it's gonna have luggage strapped to and around it all day long.

03-11-2016, 11:05 PM
Loving your"can do" ethos!

Your bike,your rules!

Lady with the shop and skills single? LOL!

Paint looks cool!

You normally Messing with yank tanks?


03-17-2016, 6:58 PM
Sorry haven't posted in a bit, here's the bike as it is at the moment, I've been working and haven't had time to get back to er. Ignore the painted sparkplugs, those are toast and are just keepin paint outta the motor.



03-17-2016, 8:47 PM
I definitely dig what you got going on. Only input I have is a full painted motor like that looks 'cheap'. Even if it's done well, it's what everyone with a rattlecan and hacksaw does to make a 'chopper'. Color accents are good though. Just my opinion, so take it with s grain of salt.

03-17-2016, 9:33 PM
Was thinking about that, it's painted in Duplicolor metalcast, which is some sorta weird tinted clea r coat shit, you can see the raw metal underneath.. if that makes sense? I really don't wanna pull the motor again because it's kind of a dink to get in and outta this frame as it is now. I gotta zip those upright struts off as I'm building new ones welded to that fuckin sissybar.. the sissybar I welded to the frame.


Gonna be honest though, looking cheap is the least of my worries or cares, I made my seat outta a car seat cover.

03-18-2016, 6:52 AM
I think that the fenders, side covers and valve cover need the same paint scheme as the tank!

03-23-2016, 7:27 PM
Well it's got legs again.


Ladies go wild when I expose my shaft,