1982 Yamaha 650
Street Tracker Conversion

This bike was bought at a garage sale on April 1st. I remember the date for two reasons. It was April Fools Day, save the smart ass remarks, and it was the day after I got out of the hospital with a new steel plate and screws installed in my left wrist, due to a rather unfortunate low speed crash. I wouldn't have thought that dumping a bike at 14 MPH could fuck you up, but I am here to tell you it can. And of course all the doctors and nurses wanted to know if I was wearing a helmet, and, no, I usually don't wear one... on my left wrist. And. of course, having just smashed a motorcycle, my wife really started wondering just how stupid I was, buying yet another one when it would be a long time until I could ride the three I already owned.

One shouldn't be allowed to buy a motorcycle, even for 100 bucks, until all the morphine is completely out of your system. It was getting to the point that when a nurse walked in the room, I just rolled over and offered up an ass cheek. Anyway, for a hundred bucks, how could I go wrong? Well the engine didn't run, as it turned out there was hole in a piston, the coil was cracked and the carbs were junk. A bunch of the stock parts like side covers, signals, fenders, seat and headlight were either missing or too badly damaged to be salvaged easily.

Anyway, I've always like the 650 Yamaha, I've owned several over the years and wanted to do a full blown Street Tracker conversion on one. And this was a likely candidate. So out came the cutting torch and cut off wheels. The bike had dozens of tangs and mounts and brackets and doodads to cut off. I am not exaggerating when I say that 50 pounds of junk ended up in the dumpster, the stock tail light alone must have weighed 10 pounds. I hope the safety people ain't reading this, but the kickstand safety switch, the neutral safety switch, the clutch safety switch, the turn signals, the reflectors, the reserve lighting unit (whatever that is) and a whole bunch of relays and electrical doodads ended up getting junked. And guess what? The bike runs just fine without all that crap. Imagine that...

To appreciate this bike, you need to know that it was what I used to rehabilitate my left hand. Basically the bike was built by a guy with one good hand. I did need some help pulling the engine out but I managed to get the engine stuffed back in by myself. Six months later I can bench press 250, down from the 300 I used to press, but a lot better that the 10 I started out with after the cast was off.

The Bike, Before

As you can see, this thing was pretty much a piece of crap. The guy I bought from bought it non running several years ago. Apparently he gave up on it after figuring out there was a hole in a piston. Who could blame him, you've got to pull the engine to get the heads and barrels off. No big deal for me. I wanted to go through the whole bike anyway. So the engine came out and the top end was torn down. I bored the jugs and put a pair of new slugs in. The chopper handle bars and the goofy looking 64 spoke wheels had to go. A flat-tracker get flat handlebars and alloy wheels. The seat and the rear fender, also history, as well as the airboxes and stock battery box. And the whole electric harness, history. That bike had more wires than a 747.

Here it is, the death of the machine. The jug cleaned up with a .5mm overbore. I popped the valves out of the head and found just light damage to the valve faces, a quick recut and a lap job and the head was OK. Of course you've got to wonder what caused this in the first place, it would suck to put it all back together and melt a new piston. I figured the cracked coil was causing a pretty bad misfire or preignition that could have melted the piston. I also pulled the oil sump screen and oil pump and cleaned them out just to make sure there were no chunks floating around inside the motor. Other than that, I left the motor pretty much alone, just gave it a clean up.



The work on the frame was not particularly extensive, all the extra brackets were cut off, and there were a bunch of them. Once the decision was made to get rid of the side covers, factory airboxes, tool boxes, seat, rear fender and battery box it was just a matter of getting the old die grinder out and having at it with a bunch of cut-off wheels. It was kind of rough doing all the work with only one good hand, but in the end, it just took a little longer. The rear frame loop was cut off, I machined and welded in some plugs to close out and seal the frame tubes and welded in a plate to secure the new flat-track fender seat installation. I also welded up a one of a kind battery box designed to conceal what little of the electrical system the bike really needed to have and what I decided to keep.


This is it, the finished project. Orange has been my favorite color lately, so the battery box, front fender, chain guard and front disc got powdercoated Chevy Engine Orange all of the small parts like footpeg mounts, kick starter, kickstand, brake rod etc. were powder coated black. I did all the powder coating. The tank and rear fender are painted. The bike runs pretty good, it could use a little more low end torque, I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get that out of it, but I'm sure I will. I was relieved when I finally got it running and found out the trans and clutch were solid. It would have really sucked to find out the trans was bad after putting it all back together. The alloy wheel rims came from ebay and some nice folks (except for a lying scumbag named Mark Labadie who ripped me off, he posts on the XL list as WingXL and on the 650 list as Maitriman) at the Yamaha 650 List, I laced them to the stock hubs with stainless steel spokes from Buchanans. The front brake line is now one piece braided steel. The rear seat and fender is from Omar's Dirt Track Racing. All in all this is a fun little bike to ride.