Weekender: A Yamaha XS650 scrambler seven years within the making


Most of the high greenback customs that grace these pages are constructed for one motive; to impress. However we’re simply as enamored with bikes that appear to be they get ridden each day, with a deep connection to their riders. For those who really feel the identical method, you’re going to like Norman ‘Sandy’ Sanders’ Yamaha XS650 scrambler.

Sandy has spent the final seven years remodeling his Yamaha XS650 into the charming and eclectic scrambler that it’s now. Clearly not in a rush, he tackled the mission piece by piece, outsourcing the heavy lifting to a few hand-picked professionals. It was fairly a activity too, given how lengthy the bike had been standing.

Norman Sanders' Yamaha XS650 scrambler
“The quick model is that this 1982 Yamaha XS650 Heritage Particular had belonged to my cousin in Houston, Texas,” Sandy tells us. “In round 1991, he left it in my father’s West Texas warehouse the place it sat till 2016. He then gave me the bike, I took it out of the warehouse in April 2016, and this started the construct that concluded in April of 2023, simply earlier than the Handbuilt present.”

For those who’ve by no means seen a Yamaha XS650 Heritage Particular, simply think about an everyday XS650 mated with a cruiser. Yamaha created the variant to widen the XS650’s enchantment, giving it pullback bars, a teardrop gas tank, and a stepped seat.

Norman Sanders' Yamaha XS650 scrambler
The method of turning the previous Particular right into a scrambler concerned two very particular duties. The primary was to revive the drained previous motor—and for that, Sandy turned to Chris Kelland at Limey Bikes in Austin. Chris focuses on previous Japanese bikes, and XS650s specifically.

He rebuilt the motor from the within out, re-boring it to 707 cc within the course of. A Shell No.1 cam went in on the identical time, together with a contemporary pair of Mikuni VW34 carbs. Earlier than he gave the classic twin again to Sandy, he additionally handled it to a significant exterior clear.

Norman Sanders' Yamaha XS650 scrambler
The second endeavor was all of the customized work that Sandy envisioned. This time, he roped in Tyson Oak Carver—the brother of Eli Carver, whose retina-searing BMW we featured not too way back. Tyson tackled all the XS650’s fabrication and modifications, just like the intelligent subframe and rack combo that sits behind the solo seat.

Tyson binned all the XS650’s worn-out bodywork, then de-tabbed the body and made some tweaks to accommodate a Yamaha XS750 gas tank. The bike’s battery now lives beneath the tank, leaving house beneath the seat for the pod filters to breathe. Fenders from Lowbrow Customs bookend the Yamaha.

Norman Sanders' Yamaha XS650 scrambler
The XS650 stands slightly taller now too, due to a pair of 19” Solar rims. They’re laced to a Yamaha RD350 hub on the entrance, and the inventory XS hub on the again. The latter needed to be modified to play good with a brand new aluminum swingarm from MotoLanna, which is attached to a pair of YSS shocks.

Hanging off the correct of the bike is a beastly two-into-one exhaust system from Delkevic within the UK. Sandy opted for the straight muffler choice, fairly than the conical mufflers which might be so prevalent on retro-styled customized builds.

Norman Sanders' Yamaha XS650 scrambler
The XS650 additionally sports activities new handlebars from LSL, fitted with Domino grips, Motone switches, and new levers from Dime Metropolis Cycles. The speedo is a Daytona unit, the LED headlight comes from LSL, and the classic taillight is from Dime Metropolis Cycles.

The tiny LED flip alerts had been Amazon finds, however they’ve been mounted otherwise at every finish. The entrance models sit simply behind the decrease yoke, however the rear models have been cleverly Frenched into the body rails.

Norman Sanders' Yamaha XS650 scrambler
Ending touches embody a tail bag from Wheelborne, and a seat cowl that was produced from a camel saddlebag that Sandy bought in Afghanistan a decade in the past. Then there’s the paint job; a shocking two-tone grey affair, executed by Jerry Leach.

Sandy’s Yamaha XS650 scrambler might need taken seven years to see the sunshine, however we’d say it was definitely worth the wait. As we tick over into the weekend, we are able to’t consider a greater machine to flee into the countryside on.

Photographs by Norman Sanders

Norman Sanders' Yamaha XS650 scrambler



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