12/30/2008

$5k Cafe Racer - The strip down

I spent a few hours on my front porch stripping my Yamaha XS650 down and it's now at a stage where I may never be able to put it back together again...haha. As I have mentioned before I have very, very little knowledge of motorcycle mechanics and electrics so this is going to be a huge learning curve (I am relying heavily of my Clymer Yamaha service manual). I have big plans for the bike so getting everything right first time round is very important. I am adopting certain habits (labeling, photographs, clean work are, etc) which will help me minimise mistakes but I can't help but be a little optimistic. I will share all my mistakes, mishaps and successes with you as my $5k Cafe Racer project progresses.

The bike has done a lot of k's (approx 80,000) so an engine rebuild is necessary. The previous owner informed me that the bike was owned by a diesel mechanic before him who clocked up most of the miles. The mechanic supposedly performed a rebuild but I will be opening the engine up to check for signs of wear. There are signs that the engine has been dismantled (screw heads and bolts have some removal damage) so I'm hoping he is right. The bike also has a lot of red dirt on it which has caused some oxidisation but it should clean up fine with a bit of elbow grease.


I started by removing all the parts that will never grace my XS650 again. These included the side covers, airbox, seat, battery box and electrical harness, rear indicators, stop light, mudflaps and reflectors. I will also be removing the front fender, headlight, front indicators, dials (speedo, tacho warning lights) and the headlight brackets. I took note of mounting brackets on the frame that were holding these parts in place as I will be cutting most of them off at a later stage to clean up the frame a little. I also removed and drained the tank which will be some custom treatment later in the build and removed the chain and chain guard.

Next I began labelling all the wiring and disconnecting. Although I will be rewiring the whole bike I still wanted to make sure I had my own reference points as well as the service manual for the standard wiring set up. I also removed the Carbs at this stage, drained the fuel from them and set them to one side for a full overhaul.

Once I had all the wiring and cables disconnected I started on the engine removal. The service manual I got with the bike (thanks Terry!) outlines the whole process in step by step detail. It was simply a matter of removing all the mounting bolts and hardware then twisting and lifting the engine out of the left side of the bike. I removed both of the side covers prior to this to avoid damaging them as getting the engine out is a fiddly job. I'm not looking forward to having to re-fit the engine as I'm sure it will be a lot more difficult and at that stage the frame will be resprayed so I will need to be much more cautious.

I have now moved the entire bike in to my store room where I will perform the build. I have set out an order for the rebuild which goes like this:
  1. Engine - rebuild, clean and paint.
  2. Carb - rebuild and clean.
  3. Frame - simplify (removing unnessesary tags), paint removal, respray.
  4. Front fork - recon and polish
  5. Rear suspension - recon
  6. Wheels - clean and paint.
  7. Rewiring and fitting electrics.
Today I'm off to purchase tools for stage 1. I will most likely be building a frame to mount the engine in to make the job a bit easier as well.

Total spent: $2000
(I will not be including the cost of tools, etc in the build as they are all reusable. The $5k total will be based entirely on the cost of replacement/custom parts purchased for the bike.)

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