Su­per- cool XS650

This XS is much more than a styling ex­er­cise

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Gary Pinchin MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Plus more glo­ri­ous retro bikes

Limey Bikes, in Austin, Texas are all about pre-’83 Ja­panese clas­sics. “That’s all we do as we be­lieve that shops should stick to what they are good at and not try to do ev­ery­thing just to make a buck,” says ex-pat Brit Chris Kel­land, Limey Bikes’ CEO and avid tea-drinker.

Limey do full restora­tions and ser­vic­ing, but also pro­duce some of the sweet­est – and us­able – XS650 Yamaha-based cus­toms you’ll see. “We do have a huge thing for the Yamaha XS650 and the 500 sin­gles, so you could say it’s a spe­cial­ity,” says Chris. “I have owned many XS650 twins, and I have al­ways said they are the best bike Tri­umph never made. Af­ter all, the XS650 was try­ing to em­u­late the Bon­neville, mi­nus the leaks!”

The XS650 on dis­play here was one of the first builds Chris did af­ter mov­ing to Texas, to show all the hip­sters what a real café racer should be.

“Back in the day (and for me it was the mid-1980s) we hung out at greasy spoons (Maid­stone round­about and Box Hill were favourites) and raced our liq­uid-cooled RDS with no re­gard for our own safety.

“I re­mem­ber back then it was all about power and han­dling, which is a far cry from the scene over here in Texas where it’s all about the look. A pair of ace bars and a bumpy seat does not make a café racer.

“The mo­tor is about as far as you can go with stock cas­ings with­out turn­ing it into a hand grenade and it’s very, very quick. It sports a big-fin 750 kit, fully gas-flowed head, Shell Num­ber One-grind race cam, matched in­takes, VM34S (I pre­fer th­ese for street use as the 36s lose a lit­tle on the low to midrange), Pamco ig­ni­tion, bal­anced crank, 1.75in ex­haust and it guz­zles 110 oc­tane race fuel.

“The bike is also sig­nif­i­cantly lighter and has all the things it needs to make it han­dle, and stop, like a mod­ern ma­chine. I would say that it’s prob­a­bly the quick­est XS in town and wouldn’t look out of place at­maid­stone round­about on a Satur­day night.”

‘A pair of ace bars and a bumpy seat do not make a café racer’

Base bike Kawasaki W400 grey im­port Tyres Avon Speed­mas­ter MKII En­gine Par­al­lel twin, stripped and re­built Ca­pac­ity 399cc Mods Orig­i­nal bat­tery and air­box are junked along with speedo and tacho. Elec­tron­ics neatly tucked out of sight

Who needs a speedo when you’ve got a hand­some rev counter? Ac­cord­ing to the guys at Limey Bikes the XS is the best bike Tri­umph never built Those air fil­ters are about per­for­mance not looks Proper brakes and some ex­quis­ite weld­ing on the Limey Bikes swing

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