My parents recently moved from North Carolina to The Villages, Florida. As they couldn't have a real shop at their new home, I got the bulk of my father's tools, along with his drive-on lift. I have to admit that disassembling and taking all the stuff was a bit surreal. We'll still do stuff together at my house, of course, but taking the tools and equipment made it all too clear that yet another chapter in their lives was coming to close. At 77 and 75, you can never be certain how many chapters left.
My dad is the reason I'm into cars and motorcycles. We started way back in the late 70s when he helped my uncle (his younger brother) repair and paint my uncle's early 70s Pontiac LeMans. From there, he, along with as much help as my pre-teen self could give, restored a 1961 Impala and a 1961 Corvette. Together--still more him than me--we built my first car, a 1966 Chevelle convertible (complete with an LS6 454 crate engine and a 4-speed). He then built my mom a 1957 BelAir hardtop for their 50th wedding anniversary. He also bought a 1960 Impala convertible (all original except for the paint).
Then the real time together began. We spent 4 years building a 1956 BelAir convertible. We sliced the front of the frame off and welded in the front sub from a 1979 Firebird, added A/C (modified from an early 70s GM A-body), a 1996 Corvette LT4 crate engine, a 700R4, and the rear end from the '79 Firebird. We added every "old man's" option GM hadn't yet thought of in 1956, including power windows, power vent windows, power seat, power locks, til wheel, lighted vanity mirrors, power outside mirrors, cruise control, and a power trunk release/pull down.
A few years ago, he sold the '56 to build a 1959 Impala. Again I helped, though he had to do a lot more due to our now living so far apart (we both lived in Maryland when we did the '56). The '59 now occupies a space in his oversized garage in Florida.
I think I typed a lot more than I originally intended. If I ran too long, I apologize. My point, though is that my father is the one who got me here. He taught me patience, diligence, and generosity. He's my dad, and I'll be forever grateful of all he taught and all we did together. He's also why I love motorcycles, but we'll leave that for another post.
Welcome to Part 2 of the build. I haven't started any real mechanical, but ideas about how the bike should look and perform when finished have led to the purchase of several parts.
First to the concept of my build. I'm not sure of the correct "technical" term, but I'm calling it a "GT" or "Grand Touring" build, similar to a GT automobile. To that end the bike should be as light as is reasonably possible while retaining all the features of a good "standard" motorcycle. For reference, look at some of the beautiful machines built by the late Les Williams. You can read about Mr. Williams' Triumph Legend here: tomcc.org/Triumph/Model/119
The fuel tank is a large portion of the bike's looks, and thus a GT should have a fairly large tank. For this build, I chose a tank from a Yamaha XV920R. It holds around 4 gallons of gas, which should give the bike excellent range.
I chose a front fender from the same bike. It looks sporty enough while providing good tire coverage. Thankfully, it looks like the fender will bolt on to the XS650 forks with little to no modification.
I ordered a seat from L.P. Williams in England. This is the same seat Mr. Williams used on his Legend builds, and I think it will fit the bike perfectly. The fellows at L.P. Williams (www.triumph-spares.co.uk/legend-road-seat-sam-0002a) got my seat out to me in a couple weeks (it's upholstered to order), and it arrived well packed.
I've yet to choose a taillight. I'm thinking I might use a Lucas lens as used on my old Triumph, or perhaps the European XS650 taillight.
The bike came with spoked wheels, but I'm thinking I want to run wheels that can take a tubeless tire. Spokes look beautiful, and I absolutely love them, but tubes go flat almost instantly when punctured, and cannot be plugged. Of course, plugging a motorcycle tire isn't a great idea, but it can get you home without having to dismantle the bike in the side of the road. To this end, I bought a set of Yamaha RZ350/SRX600 wheels off Ebay. I think they'll look great, but I'll keep the spokes in reserve, "just in case."
I've also purchased the rear fender "end" from an XS850. I will need to do some modifying to make this work, but it appears the mounts will actually line up with the XS650 rear fender mounts. This will allow me to have painted fenders on both the front and the rear without having to strip the chrome off the original XS650 fender.
That's all for now. If you have any questions of suggestions, feel free to hit the "contact" button at the top of the page and drop me a line or two.
Welcome to Ten by Two (Tennessee by Two Wheels). Here I'll share the ups and downs of rebuilding and modifying my 1977 Yamaha XS650, and then the twists and turns of exploring the East Tennessee area.
Let's start with a little about me. I've been on two wheels for the better part of my life. I got my motorcycle endorsement when I was 19, way back when and many miles from our current home in Harriman, Tennessee.
My first motorcycle was a 1981 Honda CB750K. While not exactly an inspiring motorcycle, it was, nonetheless, a motorcycle! Two wheeled heaven!
From there, I went on to buy my first project bike, a 1969 Triumph Bonneville. Well, parts of it were 1969 Triumph. A Tiger, to be exact. But the Tiger was the same as a Bonneville, but with a single carburetor. Besides, the engine my little box of bits came with was a 1973 Bonneville 750 engine with the 5-speed transmission. Other parts included in the pile of bits included extended forks, the remains of what was supposed to have been the seat, and a toaster. I tossed the toaster in the trash.
Once I rebuilt and reassembled the Triumph, I sold the Honda. Many a mile was put on that Bonneville as I toured the hills and valleys of rural Maryland. I learned a lot along the way, too. I learned all about keeping bolts tightened because the vibratory tendencies of a vertical twin tried to loosen them. I learned that diesel fuel, even once it has soaked into the pavement, is very slick. And I learned how to modify and upgrade things that seemed less than adequate on the bike, including the ignition system (upgraded to electronic), the clutch (converted to hydraulic), and the carburetors (swapped out for Dellortos).
I still have the Triumph, though it's in roughly the same condition as when I first purchased it some thirty-plus years ago. Well, except there's no toaster hidden in the box of bits.
Other bikes I've enjoyed over the last thirty or so years have been a 1979 Suzuki GS1000E, a 2001 Harley Davidson Dyna Glide T-Sport, a 1990 Suzuki VX800, a 2006 Honda Shadow 750 Spirit, and a 1982 Yamaha 550 Seca. I met my wife on the GS1000, and we enjoyed a lot of miles getting lost in the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia area.
And now it's time to build something fun and reliable. Plans include a re-phased 277° crank, electronic voltage regulator, a larger tank, and a seat with rear cowling. So stay tuned!
Keep the shiny side up!
William K Elliott