Super- cool XS650
This XS is much more than a styling exercise
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