Yamaha XS650 Redback Cafe Racer

Down here in Australia it seems like Mother Nature’s hell bent on killing us all off. Our surrounding oceans are filled with massive man eating sharks, our northern rivers infested with prehistoric crocodiles, our bushland home to a dozen species of deadly snakes (a dozen!!!) and in our very own backyards one of the world’s deadliest, 8 legged freaks, the Redback spider. Being born and raised in Western Australia I have seen hundreds of Redbacks in my time. Their all black body and vibrant red stripe is an unmistakable warning that we all learn to stay the hell away from, so you can imagine my reaction when I opened up an email from Travis Child and was confronted by this. After a quick change of underwear I returned to my desk to learn about his custom XS650 which I have wittily  coined, The Redback. 

“I’ve raced superbikes for many years and have always rode MX as well. I have ridden on the public roads the least of all. However, last year one of my racer friends rebuilt a Honda CB450. I loved the way it turned out and had to do it myself. I looked and looked and finally came across a ’75 Yamaha XS650. She was run down and looking neglected. I had her transported from Idaho to Utah in September of 2012 and started on the tear down right away. Utah winters provide a perfect time to do builds. This was my first build and even though I was a pretty good with a wrench, I had to learn a lot.”

“The frame, rims, hubs, triples and swing arm were all powdered gloss black. I painted the engine with POR 15 and added all new bolts. I designed the tank and headlight bucket pattern then had them painted. I updated the electronics throughout and built my own wiring harness (the most difficult part). I put on new tires, rebuilt the carbs and added all new bearings. I also made the seat pan which I had covered by a hot rod guy. 1000 hours and 8 months later, here’s what I have.”

‘Deadly’ isn’t an adjective I would usually use for a motorcycle but in this case I might have to make an exception. Travis has built one mean looking XS, which I’m sure was never designed to resemble the Aussie arachnid assassin (alliteration overkill!). Needless to say the resemblance is uncanny and despite my initial reaction I love everything about it.