Silver Arrow: Crooked’s svelte Yamaha XS650 café racer

Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles
Despite the company’s name, there’s nothing misshapen about Crooked Motorcycles‘ latest custom bike. This svelte Yamaha XS650 from the German shop is straight as an arrow; a riff on classic café racer style, infused with a little bit of Crooked’s personality.

It’s no accident then, that the shop has nicknamed the XS650 ‘Silver Arrow.’ “Right from the start, it was all about creating a clear line and still making the bike as rideable as possible,” Crooked co-founder, Dominikus Braun, explains. “The concept was minimal weight, a monochrome design and a clean silhouette.”

Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles
Crooked started with a 1978-model Yamaha XS650. Most of the running gear was usable—but the engine and wiring were tired. So the guys rebuilt the motor, and rewired the bike around a Motogadget control box.

Next, a set of Mikuni flat slide carbs went on, fitted with K&N pod filters. On the exhaust side, Crooked built a pair of tightly-tucked headers, terminating in a pair of silencers from the German exhaust specialist, Hattech. None of this was plug-and-pray though; Crooked tuned the carbs to make sure everything played nicely together.

Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles
Crooked were dead set on eking as much performance as they could out of the 45-year-old Yamaha, but they didn’t want to bore out the engine. So they added lightness instead.

That meant ditching the stock bodywork and starting over. The team modified a dainty Honda CB50 fuel tank to fit the XS650’s frame, then fabricated a modular bikini fairing of sorts. The slim front fender, tail bump and discreet inner rear mudguard are all custom pieces too.

Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles
“Ultimately, this gave us a weight reduction of about 25 kg [55 lbs],” says Dominikus. “This has greatly contributed to an improvement in riding dynamics.”

Taking the concept further, Crooked upgraded the Yamaha’s suspension by way of progressive springs in the forks, and new YSS shocks out back. The stock hubs and rims were still good to go, but they were re-laced with fresh spokes. They’re wrapped in Heidenau K34s—modern tires with vintage looks.

Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles
Moving to the cockpit, Crooked installed a classy Motogadget Motoscope Tiny speedo. It sits neatly just in front of the triples, tucked into the curves of the custom headlight nacelle. Also present are new clip-ons, a mix of OEM-style and push-button switches, and Motogadget grips and bar-end turn signals.

Further back, the bike’s solo seat wears an Alcantara cover with contrast stitching. Lower down, you’ll spot a set of rear-set foot controls from Raask.

Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles
An LED headlight sits inside the front of the fairing, complete with a daytime running light ring that complements the bike’s overall vibe. The taillight is a small LED, Frenched into the back of the modified subframe loop. A quick survey of the bike also reveals a custom chain guard, and a swingarm-mounted license plate bracket.

As per the brief, Crooked went minimal on this XS650 café racer’s finishes. It wears an elegant coat of silver, with the shop’s logos delicately placed on the fuel tank. The rest of the components are finished in contrasting tones of raw metal and black.

Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles
The overall effect is subtle, which is precisely why it works so well. Silver Arrow doesn’t scream for attention, but rather rewards it with a plethora of tasty and thoughtful details.

We wouldn’t change a thing.

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Yamaha XS650 café racer by Crooked Motorcycles

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