86 Motorcycles xs650
By Ross Sharp - 25 Mar 14
Here in the Shed we are constantly amazed at the reach the custom scene has, and how the tribe of builders, painters, tinkerers, fabricators, artists, engineers and McGyvers is either growing rapidly or being uncovered slowly. In London it’s easy to get complacent with the array of two-wheeled offerings on the doorstep, rash eBay purchases being a couple of hours drive away and ports enabling us to join friends in foreign lands are just down the road. Not everywhere do people have it so easy. Cristobal Quintana from Santiago, Chile will testify to that. He’s been a fan of Bobbers, Cafe Racers, classic Harleys and the like for as long as he can remember but limited domestic supply and import taxes mean not only are donor bikes hard to come by but they cost the earth too. Setting his sights on a Yamaha XS650, Cristobal began his search with a very limited budget and seemingly unlimited patience. It took him four years to find one, yes 4 yrs. You’d have thought he would have waited a bit longer for a nice one, alas, this Canadian spec 1983 XS650 ‘Heritage Special’ arrived as a non-runner with knackered wiring and a load of parts missing. The saving grace was the price, 300,000 Chilean Pesos, or just a sniff over 300 English Pounds, sorry British Pounds. Although the bargain lost its shine when the lack of documentation meant further waiting for the owner in the South to find the Chilean version of the V5 and send it up to the city. Good compression, or a stiff kickstart at least, indicated bargain status might be back on so an electrician was instructed to sort the damaged wiring loom. Cristobal’s did some more waiting practice as the sparky took a few months to finish the job. At least this gave time to source some of the missing parts. The exhaust headers, silencers and air filters were supplied by ‘Mike XS’. Another sturdy prod of the kickstart and the old 650 twin roared into life, turns out this XS wasn’t in too bad nick and ran sweetly. Now the bike was a runner the Brat treatment could begin. The tail loop has been chopped and lowered with a slim, stitched seat on top. Underneath a battery box was fabricated and side panels made to keep the messy bits out of site. The tank is raw with a couple of coats of lacquer to keep rust at bay. Forks are set lower in the triple clamps to give a more aggressive stance with clip-on bars from the local scrapyard and a set of Low Brow Customs gummy grips complete the job. Instruments and electrical gubbins have been dumped where possible and just the speedo (Mike XS) remains to keep the dash clear and simplistic. The headlight is Bates and the taillight a non-brand, brass type. 5.00x16 and 4.00x19 Firestones really suit this era of bike and the painted logos work well with this slightly Ratty Brat. Look closely and you'll note the dual shock mounting positions on the swing arm. That's some foresight of Yamaha to think three decades later customisers would be grateful of both Brat and Tracker settings, bravo! Through infectious enthusiasm Cristobal met another tribe-member and together they have formed 86Motorcycles to build bikes together. Next on the block is a ’78 Honda CB750 and a Yamaha RD350. Can’t knock them for taste in donor bikes, hopefully we’ll see the results in The Shed later this year.