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  1. #1

    Default '77 XS650 Chopper Build: My First Chop!

    Hi everyone, my name's David. I'm 17 and the start of this build and from New Jersey. This is my first bike: a 1977 Yamaha XS650 that I'm chopping up. I'm an apprentice motorcycle mechanic at a local shop, which is where I gained pretty much all of my motorcycle knowledge. This build will be a huge learning tool to strengthen my fabrication and customization skills. I figured I'd post the process here to share with all of you and document it along the way. I'm super excited for this. I've been wanting to build my own chopper for the longest time.

  2. #2

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    First off, this is what the bike looks like now. Already kinda hacked up and not very pretty, but a great start.

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    Last edited by choppersbydavid; 10-29-2017 at 9:22 PM.

  3. #3

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    So I'm going to keep the electric starter, primarily as a backup. There's a short coming from somewhere that keeps blowing fuses every time you press the start button. I isolated the short down to the starter itself, but when I bought a used starter from eBay(tested and working) the same problem happens. Could there be a short beyond the starter in the motor, or where do I look? After I tackle this, the bike can finish being taken apart and I can cut up the frame for the hardtail.

    Update: Found the wiring issue. All the wiring is messed up from all the PO's, gonna rewire it all later.
    Last edited by choppersbydavid; 11-01-2017 at 8:55 PM.

  4. #4

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    Here's the current progress on the bike: I have the frame stripped down completely and I started to cut it up. I'm going to have the hardtail professionally welded, as being a beginner fabricator, it's not the best idea to do it myself. I have a neck gusset kit in the mail that I'm going to weld in later. I also have a gas tank on the way from lowbrow. Getting excited for this build!

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  5. #5
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    Really hope you update this. Long time lurker here, you got a good attitude kid.

  6. #6

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    Man you're right, I'm waay overdue for an update. Kinda forgot about this, but thanks for the motivation. Keep posted for a very big update with tons of pictures

  7. #7

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    Got the bike back from getting the hardtail welded on a while back. While it was gone I worked on shaving the forks. Fucked up a little and went slightly too deep when cutting one of the tabs off. It's okay though because it faces the rear, and this isn't a perfect show bike either. Gonna go back later and hit it with higher grit sandpaper.
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  8. #8

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    Other things I got done in the past 2 months or so: tank, seat, rear fender(may do a 3rd mount at the bottom), sissy bar, tail light, and HD kicker arm conversion. Fender is the original front fender, just cut off the mounting tabs. It has a lip on the edge and is the perfect radius. Love it.
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    Last edited by choppersbydavid; 02-18-2018 at 1:07 AM.

  9. #9

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    Went with a mid tunnel tassel tank and pandemonium 'yo mama' pipes, pretty standard. May weld up my own set in the future. I bought the blank sissy bar bend from throttle addiction and just welded my own crossover pieces out 1/2 inch round bar, and countersunk allen bungs from bung king.
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    Last edited by choppersbydavid; 02-18-2018 at 1:04 AM.

  10. #10

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    Currently working on foot peg mounts. Bended up some 1/2 inch round stock(same as sissy bar crossover pieces) welded to a 3/16 plate that bolts to the original exhaust mounts. Only have one done and working on the second to match. Went with Anderson style foot pegs. Ebay seller said they came off a goldwing, ha. Let me know what you guys think of all this, I would love to hear feedback!
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    Last edited by choppersbydavid; 02-18-2018 at 1:08 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by choppersbydavid View Post
    First off, this is what the bike looks like now. Already kinda hacked up and not very pretty, but a great start.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    "Let me know what you guys think of all this, I would love to hear feedback!"

    Well done, one 'ell of an improvement! That hardtail cleaned it up right. Dem legs look smooth. Great idea re-cycling that front fender. Those high-LH pipes are nice. I think the two rear fender center-mounted bungs are a bit much; mighta been cleaner with just bolts up through the cross-over piece, or perhaps bungs on the sides where the crossover is welded, to keep the center clean. Good start on the footpeg mounts - the 1/2" looks a bit thin - maybe double up on them? maybe run another 1/2" piece along side the one there now? Keep up the good work!
    When I built a XS chop, I wanted to mill out the big YAMAHA name on the engine side covers and fill it in with a brass plate engraved with the name of the chop (it was 'Twisted ST') - perhaps an idea...

    Edit: Considering what happened to Jfuller(Went Down Yesterday...),maybe that rear fender mount ain't "a bit much"...
    Last edited by TriNortchopz; 02-20-2018 at 7:32 AM. Reason: update

  12. #12

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    I will always have a soft spot for the old Yamahas, as my first bike was a 400 special and it rode like a dream -- it just wasn't fast. At all. In any sense of the word.

    You got a great looking bike here!

  13. #13
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    Love seeing the progress on this one, much respect brotha!

  14. #14

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    Thanks for the feedback! I wanted to make the sissy bar and fender as sturdy as I could, just so I wouldn't have to worry, and considering that it was my first time(after much trial and error and scrap) I think it turned out halfway decent. Good for now, but still want to put something decretive in-between the mounts for the fender and tail light. I'll figure something out. As for the foot peg mounts, you may be right. I may need to redesign them to make them stronger, but it's a step in the right direction. Starting to feel more like a bike, and with this strand of warm weather, makes me itch to ride this thing

  15. #15

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    Last night I finished the other foot peg mount. I put all my weight on them and they seem sturdy to me. They flex just a little, but doesn't seem like they'll break on me. I also got the kickstand done. Just shortened the original one about 1-2 inches. Leans real nice.
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  16. #16

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    Been working on everything related to the rear brake. Bought a kit from Hugh's Handbuilt to keep the original brake pedal and linkage, good quality and looks good. It was a big fuss getting it in the right place where my foot would be, and that it wouldn't be in the way when taking the motor out. Ended up having to shave a little off the side of the brake lever so that it wouldn't rub on the foot peg mount. Also had to cut off the square plate on the pedal and move it all the way up and out so it would line up better. Like I said, it was a big fuss. I thought about bending my own lever, but I'd have to also make a shift lever to match, and I only have a propane torch, not oxygen-acetalene, so getting the metal hot enough to bend it would be really tough. For now it's good. Maybe I'll bend up my own levers later on. I also had to extend the brake rod about 6inches, cut up the lever that attaches the brake rod to the pedal, and make a mount for the return spring. It's all tacked for now so I can see if it interferes with anything. Have that brake switch for now, not sure how I like it, feel kinda cheap. I haven't hooked it up to a battery yet to test it, but i don't know if it's even going to actuate properly. If you know of another option I'm all ears. Here are some pics!

    Please, leave me feedback, I love hearing from you guys. Tell me what you like, and what you don't!


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    Last edited by choppersbydavid; 03-11-2018 at 7:18 PM.

  17. #17
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    It may have been a bit of a hassle but it looks like you got it, and lookin' good.
    Without being able to fully see your rear brake and the offset in the frame, I wonderin' if you could swing the brake plate around so the brake plate mounting bolt is next to the bottom frame rail, then weld a slotted tab for the mounting bolt to fit into - eliminating the anchor rod.
    And yes, I agree, that brake switch is cheap, and the mounting looks like a cheap ad-on...
    Check out this li'l hidden micro-switch from the Factory Metal Works:
    https://www.thefactorymetalworks.com...-switch-set-up
    It is with a bracket to fit a T120 - maybe you can just get the switch, call 'em (888)308-6641

    or, maybe this chrome guy from Lowbrow for $22, which could be mounted near the return spring:
    Cycle Standard Deluxe Chrome Motorcycle Brake Light Switch for your Hardtail chopper; https://www.lowbrowcustoms.com/delux...or-bobber.html
    It would be cleaner to mount the switch closer to your spring...
    Keep goin'!

  18. #18

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    Thanks for the recommendation for the switches, I'll have to look into it and see what'll work best. I'll test out the one I have now, maybe it's not as bad as I'm assuming. In regards to the brake plate, good idea. If I recall, I think the offset from the frame is about 1-2 inches, I'll have to measure. Maybe I can swing it around and just weld a tab there, I'll check it out. Thanks a bunch!

  19. #19

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    yeah man, looking clean! almost like ya know what yer doing.

  20. #20
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    Glad to see the work on the rear brake stay.

    I did a bunch of street racing on my XS. There was this road in the middle of the corn fields that was about 1/2 mile long. About a 1/4 mile in was a pump house and at the end of the 1/2 mile was a "T" where the paved road intersected with a gravel road. If you missed that turn you would fly off into a 5 foot drop into the field.

    I was racing a first gen Camaro and as we went past the 1/4 mile mark I hit the brakes and the stock brake stay broke loose. Since I had no front brake on the old springer I just started downshifting like crazy. I was told there were some evil flames shooting out of the old straight pipes. I did manage to slow down enough that I could drop a boot and make a three point sliding turn.

    Surprisingly the motor and trans held together and while I know it didn't do any good things for that motor, at least it was not spread across the field!

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