1975 Yamaha XS650 Street Tracker by Cycle Sports

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

Ken Fontenot and the crew at Cycle Sports in Houston, Texas, were thinking about putting together a project bike, something to occupy their time this past winter when things were a little slow. Digging around the shop, they looked at the rusty 1975 XS650 rolling chassis that had been sitting outside the shop for about 16 years and figured, why not?

Here's Ken to tell you the story:

We had a starting point. We tried to use as many parts as possible that we already had around the shop, simply refinishing, replating, repainting and restoring. Well, after about 6 months, this is what we came up with. Its a real conglomeration of parts from many different bikes that we made work.

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

* Frame is a 1975 Yamaha XS650, gusseted and modified
* Engine & carbs are from a '77, Both left stock but painted polished & carbs rejetted
* Front suspension & fuel tank '81, steering stem bearings,seals & progressive springs
* Swingarm '86 Yamaha Radian with needle bearings
* Kaw ZRX 1200 Shocks, Repainted and re cadium plated
* Foot controls are Kawasaki Ninja 250
* Tailpiece XR750 Harley, seat recontoured , firmer foam inserted and recovered
* Tailpiece is also rubber mounted to the frame on vibration absorbing Iso mounts
* Headlight & Brow from a Harley Sportster, custom mounts made
* K&N Air Filters with custom adapters made to mount to the carbs
* Pipes were built down the street from us by John Easton at Jemco Exhaust Systems
* Stock front caliper and rotor with Grimeca master cylinder & stainless lines
* Brembo Rear caliper with custom water jetted hanger and stabilizer bar, stainless lines
* Stock front brake rotors turned, drilled & painted
* For the wheels we used two stock front Xs650 hubs & Spokes
* Custom built billet sprocket adapter made by James Moody at Leeco Springs
* The Rims are rear Honda CRF450 Excell 19" take offs donated by Honda of Houston
* Paint scheme graphics were designed by Shane Davis at Graphtec Inc in Houston
* All paint was done here in our shop, the only powdercoated parts are rims and fuel cap
* Trailtech computer for speedo, tach, odometer, tripmeter, clock, temp, shift lights
* Trailtech also has an optional bezel with all the idiot lights needed, rubber mounted
* We custom built the turn signals and license plate & taillight bracket.
* Hard to spot the front signals but they are there
* Custom built the electrical box and wiring harness.
* Hi performance YTZ10s sealed battery, electric start only

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

This has been a very fun project and of course we ended up spending more time that we expected but we are very proud of the final result. Considering we have spent very little (under $1800) in actual parts & supplies, this bike runs, handles, stops, and rides exceptionally well and really turns heads where ever we park it.

Ken Fontenot, Jeff Wisenbaker & Ben Brooks

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

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I love the look of this bike, very sharp. Even more impressive is the price tag, about $1800 in parts and supplies. Sweet! Nice work Ken!

Check out the Yamaha XS650 motorcycles for sale if you want to try this yourself.

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

1975 XS650 street tracker by Cycle Sports of Houston, Texas

Ken Fontenot

Ken Fontenot

Comments

  1. Ken Fontenot says

    Thanks for posting Paul and appreciate the compliments. Just wanted to say thanks to our good friend Mike Valdez who set up studio on our showroom and took the pics for us!

  2. FREEMAN says

    It’s great to see some life put back into something that sat around for 16 years. Nice work.

  3. jim says

    The XS650 is the Energizer Bunny of motorcycling; guys just keep finding new and great ways to use that wonderful “Japanese Triumph” motor! In 1976 I bought a new ’75 XS for $1,500 and rode it for 11 years. It carried a passenger and me across the country and back, pulled a sidecar many miles, and later I packed it with my gear and explored the Southwest, all with no problems. It ran perfectly when I finally sold it. The XS engine has to be one of the great motorcycle engines of all time!

  4. Tinman says

    Guys have been building these Flat Trac style Yamis for years, with good reason. This is an exceptionally well executed example. I really enjoy the XR style pipes and the racing flag paint job. Nice Work!!

  5. says

    How much does it weigh? I’m a firm believer in the Colin Chapman ‘add lightness’ school of thought.

  6. WRXr says

    Like the exhaust…
    Like the details…such as the red pin striping on the wheels matching the shock springs matching the Yamaha logo on the engine case..

    The blacked out and polished engine also looks much better than I would have thought.

  7. Ken Fontenot says

    Kim, just finished it up and havent weighed it yet, need to get that done, we’re curious too. Thanks for the compliments guys!!

  8. says

    Beautiful job!! It’s amazing what can be done with stock parts if they are just detailed and fussed over like all motorcycle parts deserve to be! The stance is perfect which very few 650 builders can seem to get right. I’m very impressed to put it mildly.

    Having built a bike or two, the $1800 might cover parts but there’s a king’s ransom in hours of TLC to pull this off. Whatever, it looks unreal!

  9. MacKenzie says

    Awwwwwwww! I love it…….. I’ve owned two XS650 (750) customs that never quite got around to being….., you know, well…… streetable. One of these days – that motor is the business, especially with a 750 kit.

    Mike

  10. Sportster Mike says

    Yes, another good old Yamaha
    Damn, I knew I should have brought that rusty old bike years ago that was offered to me really cheaply cos I’ve been seeing good flat tracks ever since…
    but this one looks a little different and very well detailed and yes it has a good stance

  11. kachunk says

    Only $1,800? Really?
    Sounds like they had ALOT of donations/or existing parts laying around.
    This thing looks great. The red accents pull it all together.

  12. Vibeguy says

    I love these custom bikes…….but, in going through the parts list there were an awful lot of “custom” parts being mentioned. I guess I am being a bit of a devils advocate right now. But a custom built exhaust system, drilled rotors, custom rear caliper hanger, custom adaptors to mount carbs, custom built wiring harness, custom built billet sprocket adaptor? C’mon guys, the price of machining and fabrication work and materials alone would add up to $1800+. I guess endorsing the little guy to build a bike of his own, like the many that are featured here, and then reading about all the custom work being done on many of them seems a bit far fetched.

  13. Ken Fontenot says

    Allow me to shed a little light here guys. We kept a list of every part we purchased, nuts, bolts, Paint supplies, aluminum stock, and yes we do have quite a bit of stuff laying around the shop…we have been in business for 29 years. We have a small lathe, a mill, a cad plater from eastwood, painting equipment, welding equipment and such. We’re not saying just anyone can build this bike for $1800, we’re just saying Thats what WE spent, plus many many hours of labor. We had free acess to a water jet, We loaned Jemco Exhausts a 650 chassis years ago, he uses it as a jig to build pipes,so when we needed one he built it for us, THANKS JOHN! Our friend Mark Lanoue races Pikes peak every year, we help him set up his Trumph flat trackers, he donated take off Brembo caliper, Grimeca Mast cyl and Tires that went up Pikes peak. Honda of Houston donated take off CRF450 rims, a machinist friend James Moody made our sprocket adaptor for us, we help him with his drag bike. Doug Holland gave us the gold supersprocket when he changed gearing on his Z1000 Kawasaki, we help him with his Motocrossers. We spent $1792.87 total so far. We help a lot of friends on their projects and racebikes and it all comes back when You need help with Your projects. Thats part of what makes these projects so much fun, Team effort I think its called.

  14. says

    This Exhaust is just a masterpiece! Great work always dreamt of an street conversion of an XS racer….keep it up!

    Best Regards from Austria (Europe) … Martin

  15. says

    I bought a 78 XS 650 special in 1980 for $1200.00 spent 11 years riding it before I sold it in 91. I liked that bike a lot and was great as a beginner bike. Stripping off the fenders gives everything a different look and easy to do. Great job and a fun play toy when its dry outside!

    Steve The Producer Johann

  16. David/cigarrz says

    wonderful job and just one more example of why these 650 Yamaha’s are hard to come by at a reasonable price anymore.

  17. racerdave says

    Fantastic looking build. I’ve thought about building a Yammie 650 street tracker for years. Allways wanted to do it in Yam’s classic yellow and black checkered theme, but this bike just looks right on!!! Love those pipes. Great job guys!

  18. Thom says

    Yes!!! High pipes! That’s the kind of exhaust a street tracker SHOULD have! And I love that you used a Radian swingarm- I used one on my GT380 Cafe racer, and it’s amazing how something so simple can make such a radical change.

  19. Emmet says

    I’ll be honest, when I skimmed the front page I thought, ‘well there’s another trailer queen.’ Did not expect such a list of modifications, or such a low budget! I’m still in denail, but I just read Ken’s comment and agree. I love that it’s retained its classic look in the wheels and front suspension while the intake, rearsets and exhaust suggest otherwise.

  20. joe says

    Great looking bike, but those hot exhaust pipes so close to the riders leg ?oooowwcchhh !

  21. Ken Fontenot says

    Actually the pipes bend towards the engine right where your knees are so its not bad….not dont get me wrong if you pay your leg ON the pipe it will only be for a very short time…..LOL. But normal riding even with jeans on, its not bad at all.

  22. JohnB says

    Great bike, Ken. As it turns out I’m in the middle of making an ’81 XS650 into a budget street tracker (and thanks by the way to Mule for answering questions offline), and I need a tail light like the one you have. I don’t find it listed in the parts; can you tell me what it is and where it came from?

    Thanks for the inspiration!
    John

  23. Neil says

    Your bike is nothing less than stunning, mouth wateringly beautifull! That black engine really sets it off. Everything is complimentary. Here in the UK we are sadly starved of some creations. Please get your gallery sorted on your website as I’d like to download this as a desktop.

    Neil.

  24. Ken Fontenot says

    Neil, thanks for the compliments. Our webpage is under construction right now….we are trying to get the pics on as soon as possible, Webmast has about 50 pics she just hasnt got to it yet. Should be soon.

  25. Ken Fontenot says

    Hi Richard, We’re just getting done with this project and kicking around the idea of possibly doing an XS650 Cafe Racer . It wont be untill winter as we are staying quite busy working on customer bikes right now but looking forward to another project. We have been very impressed By Your XS650 trackers over the years since we saw the Blue one you did a while back, thats really the bike that inspired us to build one to begin with.

  26. Ken Fontenot says

    John B, I hadnt forgot about you. You asked where our taillight came from. We bought it through one of our distributors, Parts Unlimited, part number 2060-0119. Its an inexpensive ($19.95) Tail/Brake light. It is actually made by Bluhm Enterprises http://www.bluhmenterprises.com/applications-main.php?app=MOTO. We put a small led turnsignal/lic. plate light made by “Cool Spots” (from Blue Sky Distributing here in Houston) on each side of the tail light and it fits perfectly in the XR tailpeice. If You need help getting either of these peices, let us know.

  27. says

    Ken, after seeing all the psuedo 650 streettrackers on the Internet where most are nothing more than an installation of a seat and Kenny Roberts paintjob, It’s inspiring to see a bike like yours. The more people out there that build bikes like you have, the better. It raises the level of all custom builds! I’m always especially impressed when a builder transforms the look of a bike with subtle changes as opposed to throwing a jillion dollars worth of mismatched parts together. So I’ll be burnin’ the midnight oil to try and outdo you!. The red/black mono-shock 650 that was on here a couple weeks ago is another one that blew my mind. Lots of stock forks, but a totally unique bike! Can’t wait to see your next bike. I’m building a 650 Cafe racer as we speak.

  28. Ken Fontenot says

    Thanks Richard! We dont like the cookie cutter approach either…..We actually enjoy doing this kinda stuff so its not a race to see how quick we can build because honestly once your done you always have that empty, “what are we gonna do now” feeling. We appreciate the work you do, because its obvoius, like with us, its a passion and not just a hobby. The red mono-shocker got my attention too! I’ll be looking for pics of your Cafe racer.

  29. JohnB says

    Thanks for the details on the tail light, Ken. The Bluhm unit, at 3.86 inches long, should fit under the tail section I have perfectly. I’m looking forward to your gallery section on your website; and when I grow up I want 19″ wheels front and back, too!

  30. JohnB says

    A question for Ken and Richard: how much of the stance of this bike has to do with the taller rear wheel and longer shocks (assuming the ZRX shocks are 14+ inches). It doesn’t look like triple clamps are lowered on the forks…?

  31. Ken Fontenot says

    The front forks are stock length, with progressive springs not dropped down at all in the forks, that ZRX shocks are 14 1/4″ long. Now the Radian swingarm is slightly longer that the stock XS so it does lay the shock down slightly. We were planning on modifying to get the correct stance but when we mocked it up we found it was exactly where we wanted it, just lucked out there. Stance is almost perfectly level, just a couple of degrees taller in the rear. It does sit up a little tall but provides ecxellent ground clearance, You can lean it wayy over and nothing touches, handles great.

  32. Thruxton-Texas says

    I’ve personally seen Ken’s bike, and I must say that the photos here don’t do it justice. The workmanship and attention to detail are first-class. His choice of case paint and exhaust system have inspired me to use the same brand (PJ-1) and exhaust vendor (Jemco) for my Yamaha RD-400 “streetfighter” project that I’m finishing up this summer.

  33. says

    What? No mention of who donated those beautiful calipers to the project? Not to mention a set of tires that were used only once at Pikes Peak and are now impossible to get. Can I have the tires back for the race next week? ;)

  34. Ken Fontenot says

    Well if You look about halfway down the comments here you will run across one that says “Our friend Mark Lanoue races Pikes peak every year, we help him set up his Trumph flat trackers, he donated take off Brembo caliper, Grimeca Mast cyl and Tires that went up Pikes peak.”…….Thanks Marc! Hope Practice went well last week and good luck to you in this years Pikes Peak international Hillclimb!

  35. Joe Smith says

    Hey Ken, really nice tracker! I’ve been eyeballing it on 650motorcycles.com for a few months now. Mine is the burnt orange and white one posted just before yours. Mule is dead on about the stance and paint. Most people really screw these things up by not paying attention to minor details but you’ve done a nice job.
    I’ve done about 1000 miles on mine this summer and it always draws a crowd. I expect yours does too!

    Cheers

  36. Ken Fontenot says

    Thanks Joe! I did notice yours as well, nice job there too, I like the paint scheme. Only about 150 miles on mine so far but it does attract attention like a Hooters girl at Walmart!

  37. Joe Smith says

    Ha!
    I’ve got to admit that the paint scheme was roughly taken from Mule’s 100 cubic inch bike. Sorry Richard, but it looked so stinkin good!

  38. Ken Fontenot says

    Wanted to say Congratulations to our friend Marc Lanoue and his rider Chuck Lee on winning 1st place in the Vintage Motorcycle class on Marc’s Champion framed Triumph Flat tracker in the 88th running of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. Race was held Sunday June 27th. Their winning time was 12:58.670.

  39. Wally Wronka says

    Hello Ken;

    You have built one of the best looking Trackers out there. The next time I’m in Houston, I would like to see your bike up close. Keep up the great work.

    Best Regards
    Wally Wronka
    College Station,Texas

  40. dazza says

    What a beautiful machine, if you ever want to sell it please put my name at top of the list even with a $2000 import and freight bill to OZ it would be worth every penny!!!
    Congratulations on a impressive piece of craftmenship.
    Dazza

  41. claudio says

    Nice bike!
    I live in Argentina and I want to get one of those. You make them and then sell them or you just made that only?

  42. Alan says

    A late-to-the-party question for Ken: did you have to modify the Radian swingarm or did it just bolt up?

  43. says

    Alan, the Radian swingarm bolts up to the frame without modification and gives you needle bearings instead of bushings. The main difference is that the stock XS650 uses a 19mm rear axle and the Radian uses a 17mm rear axle. We used a Front hub on ours (which is 17mm) so that also required no modification cept of course different axle spacers and we had to make a sprocket adaptor to mate a sprocket to the hub.

  44. says

    By the way, if any of you were at the Indy MotoGp race last week our bike was in the Boz Bros Custom bike show in the Yamaha tent on display. Was lots of fun and we won our class against some really High dollar radical customs. It was peoples choice voting so a lot of fans there still like the older type bikes over the new radicals, interesting I thought. We were quite proud that the least expensive bike, BY FAR, won over the Extended swingarm, super fat rear tire, multi-thousand dollar painted, anodized, billet aluminum, exotics.

  45. JENS says

    Awesome bike! Is something like that for sale. I saw one in Frankfurt.
    Has s.o. the address of Ken Fontenot and the crew at Cycle Sports in Houston?

  46. Oldschool says

    Wonderful. But WHY did you have use that stock XS tank? I personally think, the xs stock gas tank was the worst thing that ever happened to the xs650 besides the charging system.

  47. Jim Walton says

    OMG that brings back so many memories. That was my first Pro bike when I was riding in the 70’s until I got on an XR750 so kudos for a great memory.

    Want to sell it? or build one to sell?

  48. VICENTE LANDAETA says

    Hi Ken, your work is wonderful, I’m a fan of the Yamaha XS 650, is a work of art, I live in Venezuela, I would like to have a similar like yours, as equal to that is very difficult, you can decirma where I can buy it, or tell me where I can buy the components and try to develop a project using the example as your work.
    thanks

  49. Millrace says

    Looks really nice. I like its stance. I am building a XS650 street tracker and am using a XS650 19 inch front wheel on the rear using a James Henry adapter. What size and make tires are you using?