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XS650 Yamaha custom motorcycle
The Yamaha XS650 just will not die. The parallel twin appeared in 1968—like me—and thanks to cutting-edge unit construction and SOHC design, continued in production until 1985. That’s an extraordinary run for a motorcycle. And along with its SR400 stablemate and Honda’s CB series, the XS650 has become one of the most popular platforms for customization in the 21st century. So it’s not often one jumps out—but this particular XS650 did it for me. It comes from a lesser-known Japanese workshop called An-Bu, based in Nagoya. An-Bu is a small shop, with a somewhat ramshackle website, but these guys have impeccable taste in custom motorcycles. Their bikes are stripped-back and moody, and good inspiration for custom builders elsewhere. The bottom two pictures are of a Yamaha GX400, a model you don’t often see outside Asia.

XS650 Yamaha custom motorcycle
Yamaha GX400
Yamaha GX400

  • SR400? Wasn’t it a 500?

  • MIKE

    two things: cherry bombs, first time ive seen them actually look alright on a bike. wonder how they got them all the way in japan.

    two: check out that epic drag bar mount!

  • Emmet

    that is a MASSIVE rear tire on the black bike!

  • tm

    Surly, From my knowledge the SR’s were 400 in japan due to restriction laws and 500s in australia (and everywhere else I guess) due to less restriction. From what i know the 500 is the same bore, just a longer stroke…and consequently a bit more vibration!

  • econobiker

    Isn’t the Yamaha GX400 running the same engine as the XS400 2 cylinder Special? The early 1980s XS400 Special motor which, with the rounded fins, was begot from the XS400 standard with more square designed fins which was begot from the XS360 Standard which ( I think) was an XS250 in other parts of the world. The 1970s XS360 /XS400 Standard and 1980s XS400 Specials came in budget and full equipment- the budget Standard models having drum brakes front/rear, no starter just kick and the budget Special models having the same plus lacking extra chrome goodies. The full equipment Standard models had cast wheels, disc brakes front/ rear and a starter system. The full Special models had the same (later drum brakes on the rear) plus extra chrome.

    As for the XS650 the reason it is so popular is due to its high sales numbers, parts interchangeability, classic Triumph like engine, and the support of an owners group (Yamaha 650 Society) prior to the internet and aftermarket support at MikesXS parts just prior and with the advent of the internet along with multiple groups, websites, businesses on the internet today. Plus its racing heritage, ease of maintenance,over engineering, and model adaptability (withness that it has been a standard, cruiser, chopper, bobber, tourer, sport tourer, commuter, sidehack puller, dragracer, tt racer, motocross racer, road racer, offroad side car racer,) helped contribute to its longevity. With so many made these are still fairly inexpensive and still allows the common man to create a nifty custom costing much much less than a buying a wrecked 883 Harley Davidson Sportster or an unloved Buell 1200 to part out in order to create a custom motorcycle.

    Viva XS650!

  • @ Surly — SR500s were sold in the United States from 1978-81 (a black ’79 sits in my garage) and in parts of Europe until 1985 if I recall. The frame and engine came from the TT500 (sold 1975-80 I think), and they’re hard to distinguish from SR400s except the US-bound bikes had F/R disc brakes and cast wheels instead of spokes.

  • Trav

    to ecnobiker: yea, I was just going to say.. that gx400 looks ALOT like the 1980 xs400 special my buddy has! I bet it’s the same frame too.

  • yummigotchi

    hey, anybody knows where I can get that *wow* headlight (in EU) from the black xs? Would fit nice on mine…

  • sgeechee

    I think it`s here:

    the K2 “Knoscher”. But in the EU? I`m from Germany, and at least here I don`t know any supplier.

  • That black one just flat out rocks! I love it!

  • Thanks for the info. I’ve known many folks with SR500’s so I am familiar with them, I just never new about the 400’s overseas. Interesting.

  • This a great article, I too was unfamiliar with these, and it looks amazing. Might have to get one….

  • eldoryder

    I had heard that in the late 70s, there were so many unsold 650 Yamahas in American distribution centers, that it almost brought down the company, and if not for the audio and musical instrument division, Yamaha might not exist. The story I heard follows that they appealed to whatever agency in the USA that controls such things to allow them to make minor changes to the bikes, and re-title them as the next year’s bikes, which ended up saving their bacon. Nothing against the bike, mind you. It was a great homage to British twins, done up in standard overengineered Japanese fashion. It was the only parallel twin I ever saw that had MORE vibration that the Triumph that it was obviously emulating. I used to win bar bets on one claiming that it had a reverse. I bet a guy I could engage reverse, and back it two feet out of my space into the street. He said “sure”, and I kept it on the centerstand, leaned forward, and blasted the throttle until it “walked” itself out onto the street. I got that pitcher of beer, and it tasted GOOD!

  • Landon

    I need one of those tanks! Anyone know how to get one?