Yamaha XS650

The Yamaha XS650 was praised for its reliability and criticized for its styling


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The 1970 XS-1, seen here in a Yamaha promotional piece, was the first model of the twin that would later be

The 1970 XS-1, seen here in a Yamaha promotional piece, was the first model of the twin that would later be.

Yamaha XS650

Years produced: 1970-83
Total production: 500,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 53bhp @ 7,000rpm
Top speed: 105mph
Engine type: 653cc, four-stroke, vertical twin
Weight: 192.6kg (428lb) wet
Price then: $1,245 (1970)
Price now: $1,500-$2,000

If you’ve toured on a Yamaha XS650 for more than a sitcom’s worth of time, you probably fall into one of two groups in your opinion of the classic Japanese touring motorcycle.

Group one considers the experience as nightmarish as "Joanie Loves Chachi," thanks to the two-cylinder bike’s well-documented tendency to vibrate at highway speed.

The other group’s feelings are perhaps best voiced by Jim Griner, a longtime Yamaha XS650 owner from Hoopeston, Ill., and founder of the 1,000-member Yamaha 650 Society.

"At the right speeds and in good tune, there’s a cycle of vibration that seems to be very harmonious with the human anatomy," Griner says. "Those of us who are able to tune the engine correctly tend to think of that as the motorcycle’s pulse in a friendly sort of a way."

Okay, so maybe one man’s Mary Ann is another man’s Ginger.

Orion61
5/26/2015 3:17:40 PM

The biggest trick of owning a Yamaha 650 is knowing how to time them, this includes the cam chain adjustment and valve settings. Without that the valve timing is retarded and it sucks the performance completely out of them! There are so many of them still on the road they must have done something right. I still have my 1975 650. She still starts on the first kick, (I never really did use the electric starter). It still gets about 50 MPG, the only thing I have to remember is to shut the gas petcocks off when I park. I have owned many different motorcycles in my life, but not a one had the magic feeling of the 650, especially in the City. The throaty purr of the horizontal twin through shorty mufflers is the perfect balance of sound and legality. I will NEVER part with it, plus it wasn't stripped of Flashers and had a stretched set of forks that were as popular as Bell Bottom jeans in the 70's installed. Vibration?? naw, she's just purring.


PETER AKRABOFF
1/19/2013 2:20:12 AM

I was discharged from the Marine Corps in March of 1970, went back to school and got a job, and by July I'd saved enough money to buy a brand new Yamaha 650 XS-1. My only other bike had been a Yamaha YDS3, so this was quite a step up. Although living in Cleveland, Ohio, I still put 20,000 miles on that bike in the two years I owned it. I knew how to change oil and spark plugs, but I soon learned how to adjust valves, replace headlights and clutch cables, and replace swing arm bushings. I rode that thing to Chicago and Wisconsin several times, and took a trip to the Maryland shore, up the east coast into Maine and Vermont, and back to Cleveland through Canada, camping most of the way - no one told me it wasn't a touring bike. I finally sold it and bought a Honda CB750 since a friend and I were taking a trip to California, and after I rode his Suzuki 500 (two-stroke twin) I figured I needed something a little smoother than the Yamaha. The 650 never let me down, and I rode it hard. If I could find a clean '77 I'd be tempted to buy it and see if I could relive a bit of my youth, although at a more moderate pace.


Roy Vincent Jr._2
4/16/2010 10:14:48 PM

HI, i BEEN A MOTORCYCLE NUT 61 YRS YOUNG.i HAD 11 DIFFERENT BIKES.1-WHIZZER 9MOTOR ON SWHIN BIKE FRAME,2-1948 HARLEY HUMMER 125CC (FRONT RUBBER BAND SUSPENSION) 3- 1952 165CC HUMMER 4-1967 NORTON COMANDO 600CC 5- 1968 KAWASKI W2 650CC(SCRAMBLER PIPES)6-1974 HARLEY RAPIDO 125CC 7-1975 YAMAHA 500CC TWIN 8-1968 HONDA CB160 9-1981 YAMAHA XS 650 SPECIAL 2 10-1982 YAMAHA XS650 HERTIAGE SPECIAL(10000 ORGINAL MILES) 11-1970 BSA LIGHTNING 650CC.thIS ONE i LOVE,WAITING 35 YRS.BROUGHT HER IN 2002.fULLY RESTORED WITH 59 MILES ,THIS LIGHTNING RUNS GREAT,SUPER LOOKING SMOOTH RIDING BIKE.i ADDED A MAGNETIC SUMP KIT,EMERGO OIL FILTERING KIT AND OIL PRESURE GUAGE SO I CAN SEE MY PRESURE WHEN I RIDE.WON 1 PLACE IN 2004 VINTAGE BIKE SHOW IN LAFAYETTE,LA.AMONG 135 OTHER BIKES. i LOVE THIS LIGHTNING.WILL EMAIL PICTURES TO ANYONE JUST SENT ME YOUR EMAIL .tHIS BIKE LOOKS BETTER THAN FACTORY. tAKE CARE /GOD BLESS ROY VINCENT JR.






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