Sinister 1979 Yamaha XS650 Cafe Racer Oozes Minimalistic Neo-Retro Flair

Even though motorcycle customization isn’t Chris Scholtka’s primary occupation, he is perfectly capable of building some incredible machines. The man is a full-time firefighter by trade, going about his daily business in the German city of Cottbus near the Polish border. Despite his demanding work schedule, Chris is somehow able to complete multiple projects every year and handle most of the modifications in-house.
Yamaha XS650 Cafe Racer 13 photos
Photo: kylefx
Yamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe RacerYamaha XS650 Cafe Racer
That’s right; the solo craftsman is keen on outsourcing as little work as possible, with the only recurring exception being the paint jobs. He currently operates as Motocrew, which might seem a little ironic since the firm is in fact a one-man endeavor. In any case, Herr Scholtka doesn’t just build custom bikes as a mere hobby, but he also takes client orders to generate some additional cashflow.

Commissioned by a car enthusiast from Stuttgart, the specimen we’re about to look at had once been a stock 1979 Yamaha XS650. The UJM had only two owners prior to the client’s acquisition, and each of them took great care of it while it was in their possession. As such, Chris found the old Yamaha to be in excellent condition, but he still wanted to modernize its running gear and refurbish it wherever he could.

The customer’s criteria for this build was relatively straightforward: a slammed cafe racer with loud exhaust pipes and a murdered-out color scheme. With these goals in mind, the Motocrew treatment got underway in November 2021, and it was finalized around five months later. Chris’ signature styling approach is present here in all its neo-retro glory, tastefully leaning toward the retro side of things.

For starters, the XS650 parted ways with its stock wheels, suspension, and exhaust system. The OEM subframe and front brake followed suit, as did all the factory bodywork aside from the fuel tank. Once the donor was taken apart, Chris sourced a modern pair of inverted forks from a Honda CBR1000RR and had them installed via Cognito Moto triple clamps.

Yamaha XS650 Cafe Racer
Photo: kylefx
He added Touratech fork internals, too, and the aforementioned CBR was kind enough to also donate its front brake calipers. These are accompanied by TRW discs, along with a premium master cylinder and new brake pads from Brembo’s inventory. We still spot the original drum brake at the back, but it’s been thoroughly refurbished during Motocrew’s overhaul.

Rear-end suspension duties are now assigned to dual Black-T shock absorbers sporting progressive springs. In terms of footwear, the XS650 features 18-inch aftermarket rims with TUV certification, and the front unit is laced to a CNC-machined wheel hub supplied by Cognito Moto. Sir Scholtka decided that vintage-looking rubber was the way to go here, so he fitted beefy Shinko E270 tires on both ends.

With the rolling chassis pieced together, his attention turned to the bike’s powertrain. Its parallel-twin mill was serviced inside out, gaining replacement pistons and fresh consumables in the process. One may also find a new clutch, but what really gets our attention is the bespoke pie-cut exhaust Chris fabricated from scratch.

The pipework was put together using 48 mm (1.9-inch) stainless-steel tubing, cut into 42 individual pieces per header. Furthermore, the 653cc engine saw its Mikuni carburetors rebuilt and then topped with custom velocity stacks. A tailor-made, looped subframe can now be seen where the standard unit had once been, and it comes with an integrated LED taillight from Highsider at the southernmost tip.

Yamaha XS650 Cafe Racer
Photo: kylefx
Up top, there’s a plain cafe racer-style tail fronted by an Alcantara saddle. The XS650 gas tank received a flush-mounted, pop-up aluminum filler cap to keep its silhouette as clean as possible. A bit further ahead, we’re greeted by an equally minimalistic cockpit, where the central component is a digital Motoscope Mini speedometer from Motogadget.

It sits inside a 3D-printed housing, accompanied by a keyless ignition setup on the top clamp. Clip-on handlebars also make an appearance, wearing bar-end turn signals, discreet switches, and snazzy Hookie Co. grips. In addition, Motocrew installed a glassless aluminum mirror on the left-hand side, while finishing off the front-end equipment with a 6.5-inch LED headlight.

The latter comes courtesy of Puig, and all the electronics have been rewired through Motogadget’s Bluetooth-compatible mo.unit control module. Lastly, the motorcycle’s color scheme is a blacked-out affair for the most part, but some of its goodies were left unpainted for contrast. These include the forks, exhaust, and filler cap, while the gas tank features dark grey pinstripes and Motocrew logos on each side.

Once the paint job had been executed, our protagonist was happy to call it a day and hand this stealthy XS650 cafe racer back to his client. As always, Chris Scholtka knocked the transformation straight out of the ballpark, striking a nice balance between function and form. Of course, the lack of fenders or proper air filters may put some people off, but we’re inclined to think the velocity stacks are only there for the photoshoot.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories