I'm pretty stoked that Japanese chops are really coming into their own again. It makes the art of building more accessible to so many more people and produces great rides like this one. I had seen Hunters XS650 at a Greasy Dozen event and again at Pinned. The second time I was not going to pass up a chance to do a feature for this well ridden and good looking machine.
Hunter originally saw this bike for sale just over a year ago here in the Chop Cult classifieds and it was really inspiring him to start chopping into a 1972 XS650 he had. He got to work but started running into a few snags with the project. We all know how that goes... it was looking like he would miss a summer of riding! So, when a couple weeks later the XS Chop he had seen on Chop Cult popped up for sale again he jumped at the chance to purchase it. Thinking to himself "I can spend all summer building and not riding, or I can buy this thing, which is almost exactly what I wanted to build, and ride all summer." Sometimes you just gotta get in the wind...
Hunter spent a bunch of time making it his own and focusing on making it a bulletproof runner, and now he "rides the shit out of it." Whether you dig on Japanese chops or not that for me says it all. It’s all about riding and I hope stories like this inspire more of you to build and ride.
P.S. The first XS project is still on the go and by spring Hunter will have 2 bikes. Sometimes stuff just works out.
Owners Name and Location: Hunter Kelly, Columbus Ohio
Bike name: Purple Haze
Engine, year and make, model, modifications: rebuilt 1977 Yamaha XS650, rebuilt and rejetted carbs
Frame: Hardtailed 1977 Yamaha XS650
Fork: unknown 1970's dirtbike front end
Tire/wheel size and style: unknown 21" dirtbike front wheel and drum brake up front, stock drum brake laced to an 18" high walled rain catcher rim out back.
Favorite thing about this bike: The tank. I love it and hate it. I love it because the paint is spectacular. Fulton paint works did an outstanding job and I get a ton of compliments on it. I hate it because I filled the tank and parked it in my garage after a long ride on a hot day and the gas expanded and overflowed the tank and bubbled the paint around the filler neck.
Next modification will be: new gas tank, p-pad, Biltwell chumps, and installing the Avon Safety Mileage tire that's been sitting in my garage for a month waiting for me to do one too many burnouts.
Other mods, accessories, cool parts, etc: I got my gas cap engraved, but didn't get back in time for this photo shoot. I like it so much, I bought a set of tappet covers at the lowbrow Midwest swap meet that I'm going to polish and have engraved as well.
Thanks to: I'd like to thank my chopper wizard Uncle Fred for all the help and knowledge, my riding buddy Ryan for helping me every time something broke, my band Ride To Ruin, and Chop Cult for helping me find this bike and supporting the scene. Bear at Old Bike Barn for setting this up, and my wife and my son for making this life worth living.
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Special thanks to JB Hillard for collaborating on the bike shoot