Holiday Customs – Yamaha XS650 Bobber
Holiday Customs Unveil The Ultimate Yamaha XS650 Bobber!
Updated August 9, 2018
Here’s a fine example of a street smart and refined Yamaha bobber custom. Jared Johnson of Holiday Customs is no stranger to creating curvaceous bobbers that are easy on the eye but this particular beast is easily his finest work. Taken from a 1975 Yamaha XS650, this low-slung cruiser is the perfect vehicle for tackling the urban jungle.
The Yamaha XS650 Bobber by Holiday Customs
The Yamaha XS650 has become synonymous with customs in recent years. The original XS650s were produced between 1968 and 1985 and were incredibly advanced for their time. The 654cc, air cooled, parallel twin could produce 50 hp straight from the factory and promised a little more too. Kenny Roberts famously used the Yamaha’s engine during his AMA Dirt Track stint, which is reason enough to use the XS650 as donor.
This particular custom was a last minute affair, put together hours before the One Motorcycle Show – talk about last minute, right? Jared has had plenty of experience customizing the good old Universal Japanese Motorcycles, so he knew exactly what to do with this particular one: firstly, he gave the XS650 a sexier Schwinn style frame, ready ‘bobbing’.
Before any of this took place though, the original idea was nothing more than a logical housekeeping solution: parts where scattered everywhere and workshop space was running out. Eventually, he singled out the worst offenders, namely a frame, a set of wheels and a few other choice bits and pieces, thus the XS650 bobber project was born.
The front wheel is a large 21” Honda affair, which was specifically selected to house a large drum brake; on the rear, Jared opted for the stock 18” XS rim. With the basics sorted, the project could figuratively and physically move forward. The fuel tank and seat were bolted on and the seat was specially made. The real work arrived after Jared had caught sight of a passing bicycle sporting wooden fenders – if you’re used to working with metal all the time, working with wood can occasionally leave you…stumped. He was inspired and that was enough drive to get the job done.
After building a specialist jig and steaming, curving and treating birch wood, he managed to get it right. The finished result is a set of custom fenders like none you’ve ever seen before. The mark of a great custom builder is these smaller details; the hours spent sanding and staining really shows through in the finished article – there were simpler solutions but the authentic way is the proper way! Guards completed, Jared was then able to focus on the rest of the XS650 Bobber build.
The wiring was re-done and the starter motor was removed to make room for the battery and rectifier. Now that the framework of the whole build was relatively complete, it was time to move onto the tidying and finishing touches. The frame and wheels were sent off for powder coating, the seat was sent to Ginger (the Master!) at New Church for a breath of life and the cylinder head and barrel were sent away for a bit of machining and fine tuning.
Whilst waiting for the frame and wheels to return from the powder coaters, Jared then got started with a full on engine rebuild, adding a set of pod filters and fitting a gorgeous new set of pipes too.
All that was left was the paintwork and the final start. And it looks amazing. There are a fair few bobbers out there but very few come out looking so elegant and refined. Sure, it’s a badass machine (and last minute too) but you could still pass yourself off as a first class ticket holder to any event/ship/plane or whatever you want, providing you’re riding this though…! It’s a real winner.
If you’ve got a taste for XS650 customs, check out this one by Thrive Motorcycles; if you’re just into a bit of Universal Japanese action, I highly recommend this machine, featured on TV’s The Walking Dead – you won’t be disappointed.