BMW Motorrad Spezial

Yamaha TX650 custom

Yamaha TX650 custom
Yamaha’s XS650 has become one of the ubiquitous custom platforms. With a production run of around 13 years from 1970 onwards, there are still plenty around. This custom is the second project from a new Australian outfit called the Modern Motor Cycle Company; it isn’t slick by any means, but it has a certain rugged charm. ‘MMCC 02’ is based on a 1974 Yamaha TX650, which was part of the XS650 model family. (The TX version was given a new frame and swingarm to improve handling, a larger tank, and alloy rims similar to those on the W-series bikes.) The bike was a non-runner when bought by its owner James Cecil (of the band Super Melody), and he briefed MMCC to create a rat-style custom that retained the original tank—with its beautiful porcelain-like, cracked paint finish—and the original brown headlight bucket. MMCC then fitted shortened aluminum fenders, clip-ons, new instruments, and a vintage-style taillight. A new wiring harness was built in-house, and the battery relocated out of sight. A serious performance jolt comes from a pair of Mikuni round-slide carburetors, free-flowing air filters and reverse-cone megaphone mufflers, plus a Boyer Bransden electronic ignition kit. MMCC’s next two projects are Honda twins from 1973: a CB350, and a CB175. Can’t wait to see what they do with them.

Build sheet
Avon Speedmaster 19 x 350 front tyre
Coker Diamond 18 x 425 rear tyre
Aluminium fenders by WM
Generic reverse-cone megaphones
Alloy indicators with clear lens by Daytona
Gum-coloured GT grips from POSH
34mm, chrome plated clip-ons
Mirrors by Daytona
60mm, polished stainless steel speedo and tacho
Early-style tail light from Nitroheads
Flat seat with horizontal tuck-rolls in brown from Nitroheads
Completely rewired in-house, with electrics relocated under the seat, and an SLA battery relocated under the swingarm.
Alarm system
Boyer Bransden electronic ignition
Tarozzi rear set with custom made magnetic reed brake light switch
Open-spring shocks

Yamaha TX650 custom by the Modern Motor Cycle Company
Yamaha TX650 custom by the Modern Motor Cycle Company
Yamaha TX650 custom by the Modern Motor Cycle Company
Yamaha TX650 custom by the Modern Motor Cycle Company

  • Keeping it simple, like it.


    What a gorgeous bike.

  • Sportster Cafe

    A friend of mine owns G&L Choppers, who specializes in XS650 customs, we both agree that if you can kick an XS650 through it will run with little work! Unlike my British bikes, where if you can kick it through, it probably means the rings are shot!

  • damo

    The word “understated” comes to mind
    I like it

  • Scott Brough

    This bike has a giant hole blasted right through the middle of it!

  • Thiago

    I like it but just can’t stop looking at that big empty space in the middle.

  • should put some vintage beer cans there!

  • Mattjr

    Christian over at Modern Motorcycle Company is putting out some really classy bikes, not over polished or worked like alot of the ‘bling’ rides out there. He really knows his stuff from a technical perspective and is only to keen to share his knowledge. I bought some parts from him recently and can recommend a trip to his workshop if you are a Melbourne local. It’s great to see some of his work on Bike Exif!

  • Derek Larsen

    Holy shit. I get a lot of inspiration from this blog, and yet here’s a bike that makes me feel like anything I could make would be a pale imitation. I do agree about the open space. I feel like even just a rusty steel box would look nice.

  • ian

    what is the world coming too, iv scrapped better looking bikes than this

  • Shawn

    To Ian
    I agree. I build bikes with the intension of finishing them and making them look finished.
    Its like a Hot rod, the matte black looks cool for a while but you’d hope that one day the thing will be done right.

  • D.

    Wanna replace the headers for me while you’re at it adding hipster dropbars and putting dry-weather-only filter pods on it? Ta.

  • mack-o-matik

    well THAT’S a real thing! I’m a big fan of Yamaha XS’, and my most liked customising is THIS way. I’m green, James! Really stylish!

  • AlwaysOnTwo

    Looks like something a pre-teen would cobble together. It’s not a “custom”, it’s a “beater” with a few new parts. I wouldn’t ride it, I wouldn’t stand next to it, and if it were in my garage I’d be ripping it down to the nuts and bolts to finish properly. With looks like that, why did he bother with an alarm install? Gawd-awful way to treat an XS/TS.

  • meerkat

    Slapping a few aftermarket parts on a running bike, a custom does not make..

  • joe momma

    ….this is what my grandma would call “scraping the bottom of the barrel”….this one is aboooot $11 diffo from the dead one parked down the block in the alley……say its a runner or mule or workhorse……custom…??……my old shoes are customs also…

  • Ethan

    I love it. I’m so sick of over-done bondo’d smooth super-chromed bikes. This is awesome. I’d ride the hell out of it.

  • wwalkersd

    Geez, guys, the brief was to create a “rat-style” bike, and you complain that it doesn’t look finished enough?

  • ron fairbrother

    I’m sorry, but I really cannot for the life of me, see where the skill lies in putting together something like this for sale or show. Getting a ratter, that should have been scrapped, get it running, and, sticking a few less damaged parts on it, is something I did in my teens. This is only my opinion, and I’m sure there are folk out there that dig this, but to me, this is like that modern art rubbish, the splodges of paint thrown at a canvas by a chimp that then sells to those that dont know any better. Sorry but this is junk at its best :o).

  • martin

    Bikes are (at the core at least) simple machines. This is simply done and I think fits well. Its not something I would be afraid to thrash. And therein lies the appeal. Looking at these pics gives me a sense of anticipation wondering what this machine is capable of once I throw a leg over. “Finished” does not always equal perfection.

  • WillyP

    Hey, c’mon now, you know it took a lot talent and skill to let it sit behind the shop just the right amount of time, in just the right weather, and think of all the time spent finding just the right aftermarket parts to throw on, looking like they were just slapped on without any thought to appearance…

  • Chesterton Pootay

    I can only imagine what billet-ed out, Xtreme fatty-rear tire, skull and flames behemoth Ronnie Fairbrother must be riding.
    Did I guess right?

  • Derek Larsen

    wow there is so much hate on this bike. “T`hey see me rollin’. They hatin’, patrollin’ cuz they know I’m ridin’ dirty.”


    Hey, c’mon now, you know it takes a lot of talent and skill to buy a new bike, with just the right paint job, and think of all the time spent finding just the right aftermarket parts to throw on, looking like they were just slapped on without any thought to appearance…

  • Mingh

    While i understand that one wants something different than the mail order customs with cat tail lights and federation flags sprayed over the peanut tank, and whil i don’t like the better than new restaurations, I don’t see the light in this one. There’s dozens of those bikes parked against trees, outside the football field, and near the low brow bar outside of town. All i see is a resprayed tank with the logos taken off, and missing side panels. I’m sure the owner’s glad with it (although ‘project brief’ seems a little out of place) but this isn’t bike exif material.

  • It’s almost in a class by itself: an “elegant rat.’ And the haters just don’t “get it”

  • mack-o-matik

    And I’m glad they didn’t – This bike’s LE rat élégant – it’s a “Royale with cheese” instead of a QuarterPound with Cheese. I’m hungry now.

  • db

    I think everyone is getting a little carried away. I don’t find it particularly inspiring but it fits the brief and that is important. I find the tank/seat a little out of proportion but the overall product is hardly as offensive as it is being made out to be.

  • Ben-bot

    Who would scrap a TX650, in any shape? Whoever you are, next time you’re going to scrap one, get a hold of me. I will save it from you.

    I am a big fan of this bike. I don’t think the hole in the middle is a problem. If nothing is needed there, why should anything be there? It comes down to aesthetics, which depends on the person, so like all art and design some will like it and some will not…there is no point in bashing someone’s work just because YOU don’t get it. If you don’t get it, just say you don’t get it. Don’t accuse the builder of “doing it wrong”. There is no “wrong”.

  • Ethan

    Totally Ben-bot! The more I look the more I like this bike. I do wonder how or if the kick start works with those rear sets. Trying to figure out a similar setup for my kz400.

  • Peter B

    Lost on me this one, you’d have to work much harder than this to make a 650 Yam appeal to me. Not quite “yuk” but with a bit more – or less – effort, could be….

  • I like that, unlike a lot of bikes on this site, this looks like the type of bike that I could (and would) build over the winter… It’s totally attainable with some knowhow, a little cash and a good sense of style…

    I’d ride the shit out of this moto and enjoy every second of it… Looks rad.


    Ouuch, what a personal attack by Mr Chesterton Pootay on my poor self.
    Yes you are very accurate, lots of gaudy chrome and billet with an over-indulgent amount of flames and skulls.
    But lots of hand made bits too……. and no pseudo rust to boot :o)

    Please indulge yourself and feel free to cast your critical opinion too.
    PS – I’m very thick skinned :o)

  • jesse c

    I changed the turn signals on my Vstrom. Does that make it custom?

  • Peter B

    This one is lost on me. The Yam 650 was a dog, but with effort and talent some wonderful specials have been created and some managed to get close to being ‘a silk purse’. This? Sow’s ear would be kind…..

  • The Model Citizen

    I’m torn about this bike. I understand the subtle changes made to it and the appeal of that but it is also what a lot of my friends and I did to our bikes in the eighties. We didn’t consider them customs, they were just our bikes.

    Maybe it’s a generational thing. We grew up riding in period of bevel drive Ducatis and early Japanese Superbikes. We made these bike handle and look like we wanted because we had to to get the bikes we wanted. Now, bikes are divided into so many sub genres that you don’t really need to do that now. Of course, there is the fact that bikes then were so much simpler and you could do the changes yourself. I would be interested to know how old the people who did this bike are. Are they from a period similar to myself and are harking back to a more romantic era in their personal motorcycling history or are they from a younger generation, brought up on CRB1000’s, R1’s and the like where the necessity to modify your bike (as an everyday reality) no longer exists. Then this bike may be considered a custom.

    Really, thinking about it whilst writing this, to me this is just an old bike.

  • gm

    Ethan, if you haven’t already found it, checkout the Kawasaki Twin Owners Forum.

    Lots of good information and people there. Its the only way I keep my 76 running.

  • AG

    I like this bike. If this is “custom”, then my bike with rusty headers and chipped paint on the tank is “custom”. Right? I even took the “custom” look even further and used black duct tape to fix a tear in the seat!

  • D.

    I don’t even understand how this is ‘rat style’. When I was into rats ten years ago you fixed a rat with whatever part was available. This bike has a $300 seat on it. If you had a ‘rat’ style the seat should be made of sponge and duct tape. What gives?

  • mule

    I guess when the fashion designers threw acid on jeans and cut holes in the knees and sold them for $200.00 per copy, there were people that just didn’t undertsand that either.

    The rust and crust on this bike looks sooo perfect, it almost looks like it happened naturally! Good job! The primer on the tank that doesn’t match the headlight is the frosting on the cake. Superb!

  • Tinman

    Looks like any number of $500 bikes around here. If the owner likes it thats fine, but hardly worthy of praise. P.S. 650 Yamis were just a poor imitation of the much better English bikes. And yes I used to own one myself, rude crude and ill handling, but very cheap.

  • This is a great looking bike. I disagree that XS650’s are poor imitations. They hold their own and their popularity as a base for custom bikes is a testament to this. The British bikes certainly weren’t perfect without a bit of tweaking. XS650s are bullet proof and packed with potential.

    Kudos to Christian at MMC for his creation…oh and by the way he’s a great guy. If you want some work done in Melbs he’s your man. He’s got plenty of sweet parts from Japan to make your bike that little bit different.

  • Aaron Burke

    Hmm, this one has me scratching my head a little. The XS650 by it’s very simple design can be made into a great looking bike.
    The bike here has highlighted the simple design, but I feel execution is not on the mark. For example the frame is revealed for all to see, but the large rear footpeg hangers are left in place and look heavy & clunky placed beside the neat new rear sets.There are more examples of this as you study the bike further. Good ideas, but the execution seems off. And yes I being more picky as this is a shop built bike, it is their job to do it right.
    However, I look forward to more MMCC bikes as they progress as a company. The Aussie motorcycle scene can always use more participants.

  • I like this bike. If this is “custom”, then my bike with rusty headers and chipped paint on the tank is “custom”.

  • turgut

    I can perfectly imagine myself on that bike, and live happily ever after..

  • Alex

    Прям на колхозный ижак похож, а так ничего для сельской местности пойдёт.

  • gobig

    For those of us who love the texture and personality that age brings to a machine, the patina of time and miles travelled, these more organic creations are a real sensory feast. Polished chrome and buttoned down tight styling works for some but for me, bring on more of these tasty slow-life treats ! very tidy work MMCC.