This Yamaha XS650 Chopper Is Way More Than a Cosmetic Affair, Flaunts Hardtail Anatomy

Yamaha XS650 Chopper 13 photos
Photo: Brandan Trudinger
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When we think about Australia’s bustling custom motorcycle scene, it’s virtually impossible for us to pick a single workshop as our favorite. Nonetheless, Purpose Built Moto (PBM) from Gold Coast, Queensland is undoubtedly one of the nation’s leading customization firms, founded by Tom Gilroy and employing a whole team of talented craftsmen under his leadership.
PBM doesn’t even need an introduction for many of our readers, because their work found its way onto the autoevolution pages countless times in the past. Tom and his squad never fail to deliver a fantastic project, regardless of its stylistic direction or level of complexity. Keeping things simple is sometimes the way to go, for sure, but that certainly wasn’t the case with the bike we’ll be looking at today.

It all started with a regular Yamaha XS650, which took 18 months to be transformed into the handsome chopper pictured above. As part of the workshop’s Signature Series, the build was an in-house endeavor with no time- or budget-related constraints, and it had to look like a million bucks upon completion. There’s one thing we can definitely say about Purpose Built Moto’s end goal, that being “mission accomplished!” Let’s see how the Aussies got here.

With the classic Yamaha placed on the workbench and taken apart, they first tackled some structural mods to get it ready for the chopper life. The frame’s rear section got taken out of the equation altogether, while the main structure got placed on the jig at a 27-degree rake angle. Then, the guys busied themselves with a good bit of intricate fabrication work.

A hardtail rear end was painstakingly built from scratch using chromoly tubing, and it shortens the XS650’s wheelbase by around two inches (50 mm). For extra rigidity, the entire framework got braced in all the right places before PBM moved on to the next step. They also tweaked the backbone in preparation for a new gas tank, which is an off-the-shelf item from an unidentified aftermarket brand.

Yamaha XS650 Chopper
Photo: Brandan Trudinger
Bolt-on solutions were used for the front suspension, too, in the form of narrow triple clamps supplied by Mullins Chain Drive. These bad boys hold the repurposed 39 mm (1.5-inch) forks of a Harley Sportster, but the aftermarket sorcery continues down in the unsprung sector. You’ll find a pair of Jonich wheels where the stock units had once been, with diameters measuring 21 inches at the front and 19 inches at six o’clock.

For braking duties up north, this XS650 chopper makes use of a small drilled rotor and a KTM’s two-piston Brembo caliper. There’s a slightly larger brake disc at the back, pinched by the retrofitted caliper of a Ducati Monster. An intricate, custom-made sissy bar works its way upward from that area, also acting as the support for an LED taillight and the license plate holder.

The PBM treatment at the rear involved the installation of a bespoke fender, as well, but no such item can be spotted up north. Now, one of our favorite things about this project has to do with the bobber-style saddle, more specifically the complex mounting system that supports it. Tom and his team came up with a very interesting linkage to offer some cushioning against road bumps and thus make up for the lack of rear suspension.

Yamaha XS650 Chopper
Photo: Brandan Trudinger
In the cockpit, we notice a low-profile handlebar mounted on a single clamp, both hailing from a downhill mountain bike. A KustomTech brake lever is located on the right-hand side, along with a modern throttle and minimalistic switches from Purpose Built Moto’s proprietary aftermarket range. The MTB handlebar also wears black leather grips, while the instrumentation lives close to the engine on the left.

As for the clutch, it is a premium Barnett module operated by foot, and gear changes are now performed via a hand shifter in true chopper fashion. Further changes to the motorcycle’s powertrain included a 700cc big bore kit from Hoos Racing, new valves complete with Kibblewhite springs, and a high-grade camshaft. We find an XSCharge E-Advancer ignition module, too, along with fresh Mikuni flat-slide carburetors sporting mesh-covered velocity stacks.

Handmade stainless-steel pipework takes care of the exhaust gases, and it sounds absolutely delicious in PBM’s presentation video (found below). Glancing back at the XS650’s front end, you’ll come across a 4.5-inch LED headlight placed inside a custom housing. The setup adds a bit of neo-retro flair to this otherwise vintage-looking machine, attached to the Sportster forks by way of bespoke brackets.

Finally, there is the simple, yet gorgeously elegant colorway chosen for PBM’s chopper-style Yamaha. A glossy layer of navy-blue was applied to the bodywork and frame, then topped with silver detailing that matches the unpainted metal bits. To everyone’s surprise, the finished bike tipped the scales at a mere 158 kilograms (348 pounds) with all the necessary fluids – a considerable drop from its original weight!

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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.
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