Custom Yamaha XS650 Street Tracker

Custom Yamaha Motorcycles


| September/October 2010



yamaha xs650 1

Joe Smith’s lean, mean Yamaha XS650 street tracker.

Photo by Stephen Smith Images

Custom Yamaha XS650 Street Tracker
Years produced:
 1970-1983
Total production: 250,000 (est., all styles)
Top speed: 105mph
Engine type: 653cc SOHC air-cooled parallel twin
Weight (wet): 425lb (approx.)
Price then: $2,499 (1980)
Price now: $1,750-$3,500
MPG: 50mpg (avg.)

Harleys may still be the kings of the modern custom crowd, but few bikes satisfy the creative fantasies of classic custom motorcycle builders better than a Yamaha XS650 Street Tracker.

Joe Smith agrees: “You can do anything with them,” he says. “They’ve been chopped up, they’ve been café’d, they’ve been tracked. They’re a good platform for just about anything.”

There’s no questioning that Kenny Roberts’ 1973 AMA Grand National Championship win inspired a legion of Yamaha fans to produce street tracker replicas of King Kenny’s Yamaha XS650 track bike. Although his subsequent exploits on the brutal TZ750 and the whiplash 500cc GP strokers overshadowed his earlier success, it was the Yamaha XS650 flat tracker that made Kenny king of the track in 1973.

So many flat track fans have sought to replicate the iconic Seventies XS specials that a whole industry has grown up for custom Yamaha motorcycles and Yamaha street tracker replicas. Companies like Omar’s in Concord, Calif., can supply period and reproduction flat-tracker goodies while shops like Mike’s XS in Brooksville, Fla., carry an extensive inventory of Yamaha XS parts. That means it’s not too tough to build a basic street tracker from off-the-shelf parts. So what makes the difference from one bike to the next? Attention to detail and the quality of workmanship. And that’s where Joe’s XS Yamaha street tracker stands above the rest.

Front and center

People who’ve seen his bike agree, as Joe’s Yamaha has taken first in class in both bike shows he has entered it in: at the Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts Rally & Show in Kansas City, Mo., in June 2010, Joe rode away with the Best Yamaha trophy; and at the Capital City Motorcycle Show in Topeka, Kan., a few months earlier, his tracker stole first place in the Classic class.

joe smith
8/15/2010 9:37:17 PM

What A Hot Bike!!!!






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