Yamaha XS650 Cosmic May Look Plain, But It’s Teeming With Intricate Details

Yamaha XS650 Cosmic 9 photos
Photo: MacVittie Motorcycles via Pipeburn
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Although Matt MacVittie hasn’t quite broken into the big league of motorcycle customization just yet, his ambitious projects are very promising, indeed. He still operates out of his backyard shed in North Carolina, building spectacular one-offs as MacVittie Motorcycles and never failing to impress. With a professional background in engineering, Matt knows how to create a fantastic machine from both a cosmetic and mechanical standpoint.
He has a total of eight fully-fledged builds under his belt at the moment, and the one we’re about to look at is the latest among them. Dubbed Cosmic, the specimen is based on a Yamaha XS650 from the model-year 1974, one of the custom bike world’s long-time darlings. The XS platform has served countless builders on projects from various different genres, as it has a ton of potential in the right hands.

Our protagonist is no stranger to Japanese machines, mind you, having pieced several custom Hondas together in the past. Cafe racer styling is Matt’s main specialty, and the Cosmic provides an astonishing demonstration of his skillset and creative thought process. Getting to this stage was far from smooth sailing, though, because the XS650 first needed some serious TLC in order to regain its former glory.

As a matter of fact, it didn’t even come as an assembled bike, but rather as a collection of parts stored in multiple boxes. What’s more, the subframe was damaged beyond repair and had to be replaced with a bespoke loop-style item. Oh, and the structural work at the rear went a lot further, as MacVittie’s to-do list included a full monoshock conversion to really spice things up.

First, a new tubular swingarm was fabricated from scratch, and suspension duties have been assigned to a premium Hyperpro shock absorber. Although the original forks from Yamaha are still in play, some very interesting mods took place at the front end, as well. The suspension items themselves were fitted with external springs and upper sleeves for a much beefier appearance.

Yamaha XS650 Cosmic
Photo: MacVittie Motorcycles via Pipeburn
In addition, the front wheel makes use of a 1972 Suzuki GT750 drum brake, linked to an Excel rim by way of stainless-steel spokes just like the rear unit. The repurposed braking system is operated through a hydraulic master cylinder, and so is the motorcycle’s clutch. On the other hand, its lighting is a mixed bag employing aftermarket LEDs and a Harley-Davidson's headlamp.

The taillights do double duty as turn signals while keeping the rear end as clean as possible. Moving on to the bodywork, we see an XS750’s bigger fuel tank taking pride of place center-stage, and the front fender is a bespoke item placed on thin brackets. At six o’clock, the only bit of metalwork comes in the form of a small cafe-style tail section, as there is no rear mudguard to speak of.

One may also find an elegant leather seat with diamond pattern stitching in that same area, working in unison with the tank and tail to form a stunning silhouette. As you can probably tell, Matt went to town when it came to the Cosmic’s cockpit area, too. Clip-on handlebars bring about a caffeinated ergonomic package, wearing plain switches, bar-end mirrors, and leather grips. Instrumentation comes in the form of a single aftermarket dial.

Yamaha XS650 Cosmic
Photo: MacVittie Motorcycles via Pipeburn
To keep things street-legal without cluttering the bike’s rear section, MacVittie installed a swingarm-mounted license plate holder on the right-hand side. In addition, he wrapped the rims in Bridgestone Battlax BT46 rubber for plentiful grip. Oh, and of course, the overhaul wouldn’t be complete without some notable changes in the powertrain department. The parallel-twin engine was first treated to an extensive refurbishment inside out.

It received a modern electronic ignition module in the process, along with countless upgrades to the charging system. The carburetors are now capped off with K&N air filters, accompanied by a handmade exhaust system on the other end of the combustion cycle. Fashioned out of stainless-steel, the piping terminates in dual reverse megaphone mufflers close to the rear drum brake.

Various bits and pieces were polished to a mirror finish, while others gained a layer of chrome plating for an even shinier look. With the project quickly nearing the finish line, Matt’s closing act had to do with the paint job. The upper bodywork was cloaked in a glossy off-white hue, topped with black pinstripes and Yamaha logos on the gas tank. Elsewhere, the Cosmic is all about chrome and bare metal.

Its frame and swingarm were painted black, directing one’s attention to what truly matters. MacVittie was happy to call it a day once the livery was done, so he sat back and admired the fruit of his labor. We’re particularly fond of the monoshock conversion, but there are so many other great things about this custom gem! Honestly, we could spend hours admiring Matt’s top-notch handiwork.
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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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