Kevin Goveia's XS650


A man doesn't have to be fluent in Nipponese chopper to know Yamaha XS650's rides loud and proud among the toughest hand-built death traps in today's no-frills scene.

The pace and distance of weekend rides like last month's Gypsy Run seem designed to destroy old iron, but in all my days bringing up the rear I've never seen a bike like Kevin Goveia's Baloney Sandwich on a trailer.

Here's what the builder of this impressive little Yamaha from upstate New York has to say about his machine.

In June of 2008 I visited Japan. A few months before I had met my friend Kyle in a bike deal and he turned me on to the Bratstyle website. Luckily I was able to spend a day at their shop when I was in Tokyo. I’m sure I was a huge pain in the ass since I wouldn’t go away until they closed. It’s pretty obvious they were a huge inspiration on this build. I got the bike as a non-running, sad-looking '70s chopper with tall twisted Z-bars, huge king-and-queen seat, and 6-over forks.



It was my first full custom and Kyle at Lead Fist Cycles in Saugerties, New York, really helped me out with his knowledge, time, and tools. Basically this bike would suck if it weren’t for him. While heavily inspired by Bratstyle and other Japanese shops, there are some things we did differently, most notably the curved seat rail. I have never seen a Japanese shop do this, and I think it really made the lines of the bike flow. Since we built this bike there has been a surge in the so-called "Bratstyle," and many have a curved seat rail. Although small I like to think it’s our little contribution to the chop world.

I think that Kyle’s gritty style has rubbed off on me and it shows on this bike. I’m really happy with the way this bike turned out. I have friends that hardtailed theirs but I love to rip up the mountain roads and the swingarm makes it easier to ride fast and aggressively. I just got back from the Gypsy Run where my bike performed flawlessly and had no problems keeping up with the big bikes.


Owner: Kevin Goveia

Hometown: New Paltz, NY

Builders: Kevin Goveia and Kyle at Lead Fist Cycles, Saugerties, NY

Bike model: 1973 TX650 (same as and XS650) with stock '77 XS650 motor. Stock ’73 carbs, jetted for the pod filters and 2-inch drag pipes

Frame mods: Custom neck gusset (cross bar removed) and top motor mounts, custom seat frame, shock mounts relocated. The bike was dropped 2 inches front and rear. The front end is off of an early '80s “Special” model. Wassell fender, alien tank, NOS Z-bars, shitty paint by yours truly. It's a temporary base coat that I’m too lazy to paint over

Front wheel: 21” mini drum from a Yamaha enduro (a XT550 I think) with a polished brake plate, wrapped in a Speedmaster copy.

Rear wheel:
Stock ’73 hub and brake plate, polished and laced with NOS custom spokes to a Dunlop Harley-style drop center 16” rim. It’s wrapped in an old Goodyear Speedgrip tire taken off of a shovelhead

Thanks: Big ups to Kyle at Lead Fist Cycles and Jay at Pirate Upholstery in Kingston, NY for doing my seat

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Commented on 9-20-2010 At 08:23 am

great looking bike. That style has really grown on me lately.

Commented on 9-20-2010 At 08:51 am

Thats a sweet lookin' build, good motivation to finish up my brat.

Commented on 9-20-2010 At 10:15 am

The curved seat rail and pan were an AWESOME contribution, especially to this "style." So many people simply buy some shorty shocks and re-upholster the seat, then call it a "Bratstyle." I didn't want to take those short cuts on my own build, and your rad XS650 was a direct inspiration. Incredible vision.

Commented on 9-20-2010 At 03:03 pm

only inforces my theory that an awsome chopper can be born of any bike, if you take the time

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 12:14 pm

The frame is outstanding - Love it!

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 12:46 pm

Son of a bitch. I have been collecting parts for a build just like this. Namley the style of tank and seat

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 02:42 pm

is it just me or where is the battery?
got something cool hooked up, if so i want that know how im all for simple.

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 05:02 pm

Nice. Like the seat and the rest is ok i guess!

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 06:09 pm

i've always loved this bike.
found the build pics on flickr...i've been hooked ever since.

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 06:40 pm

I like the seat rails and the rest! What are you talking about "ok" mr. jawbone? slick ride

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 08:45 pm

Mr Smooch- Thats Jaybone dick. HAHA! And quit drooling on your keyboard

Commented on 9-21-2010 At 08:48 pm

dont need a battery with a pamco, magneto and some capacitors.

Commented on 9-22-2010 At 06:28 am

Cool bike, love the seat and the front wheel. Nice job. Ive seen a lot "brat builds" with curved seat rails in the past two or three years. If you frequent many of the xs forums you would know that this bike is far from the first to do the curved seat rails. To take credit for the surge in brat builds is not because of your bike. Its cool but get over yourself.

Commented on 9-22-2010 At 04:58 pm

Thanks guys. There's a battery, it's just hidden. And xs650srule, I'm not taking credit for the surge in "brat builds" (in fact I take issue with that label), just the curved seat rail. We did this 2 1/2 years ago (check flickr) and I can tell you (based on the forums/ flickr/ xs650chopper) who looked at it and coppied it, and who coppied them and so on.

Commented on 9-22-2010 At 05:03 pm

sweet ride man, next gypsy I'll have mine there. One thing I gotta give you big props for is using the top mounting brackets. I've hardly ever see people use them (including me!) and I've been trying to figure out a solution that would allow me to actually get the motor in there. This is something I may steal ...

Commented on 9-23-2010 At 05:49 am

xs650chopper featured a bike in the process of being built that had curved seat rails before your bike was ever even out there. Do I think you copied that bike? NO of course not. The point is that many many people get to the same place in design without having to copy your shit. I think its great that you did it. It looks better then straight rails, probably the reason others did it too. Congrats on your build and getting a write up.

Commented on 9-23-2010 At 09:55 am

Yup, cool bike and a fabulous mustache.

Commented on 9-24-2010 At 06:41 am

Seems to me you are directly speaking of the kit I came out with. Sorry but its not based on your bike. It is based on a bike I built that was directly inspired by Joel Mekolites bike. It is 100percent the bike that made me want to build a brat and do curved rails and his bike is perfect in my opinion. I watched his build progress for a while. Credit where its due

Commented on 9-24-2010 At 09:28 pm


Commented on 9-25-2010 At 12:55 pm

With all due respect Vis, I know the bike you are refering to. It is the one I mentioned earlier. We had began building mine and documenting it on flickr. I saw him start his build on there and told him his design was flawed- he originally had his shocks at an extreme angle with straight/ diagonal seat rails. I told him to look at mine and a month later he had curved seat rails too. Let's not forget also that I sold you your first XS650 and you came to my garage and saw my bike in progress. I don't mean to take anything away from you and your kits- I never mentioned you and wasn't refering to just you specifically but lots of other bikes. I think it's great that you had the drive to put them out, but the whole reason I wrote what I did is exactly what you said- "Credit where it's due".

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