1978 Yamaha XS650 Street Tracker for Sale
Alright, this might be another example of me using my editorial discretion to include a bike that doesn’t really fit into the traditional image of a “sportbike”: racy ergonomics, roadcourse pedigree, maybe a fairing to tuck in behind… But it doesn’t really take much of a stretch to include something that looks to be as capable as this Yammie on a twisting back road.
The Japanese assault on the US market is remembered now for the range of four-cylinder models from Honda and Kawasaki, but the supporting players were many and varied. While the European manufacturers were struggling through this same period, making evolutionary upgrades to their core products with a very limited range of engines, the Japanese continued to introduce models in a nearly dizzying array of configurations and displacements: two-stroke and four-stroke singles, twins, and triples all made their contributions.
The Yamaha XS650 parallel-twin was introduced in 1968 and featured very modern specifications: overhead cam valve-actuation and unit construction, with a reliable electric start added in 1972. The 360 degree twin was revvier than British contemporaries due to its lighter flywheel and the bike was made, in one version or another, until 1985.
This heavily-customized, flat-track styled machine is entirely appropriate, as the XS650 was used for a while by “King” Kenny Roberts in dirt-track racing.
From the original eBay listing: 1978 Yamaha XS650 Street Tracker for Sale
Has 07-08 Yamaha R1 wheeels. New tires 120/17-200/17. Swingarm off a Kawasaki ZRX1100,front end is a GSXR750. Pro Taper Bars and Platform Pegs. Gold Shorie Levers.L.E.D. Head Light and tail lights.Problem with starter gear,bikes kick starts.Front pipe is a Mac and rear is custom made.Paint done my Devils Candy of Daytona.Two into one intake with a 36mm Mikuni carb.Point style ign.Bike was Featured in Mays issue of Street Fighter Magizine.Stainless brake lines.Vortex rear sprocket and custom made 5/8 off set front sprocket.
While the paint is slightly… individualistic, it looks to be very professionally done and hey, it might be your thing. As they say: “that’s what makes horse racing.” Same thing with the headlight: the LED look might be a bit too modern, but that’d be simple to fix with something more classic, or more in keeping with the flat-track style. Say, a projector-beam poking through a number plate painted to match?
A switch to a classic red/white scheme would make for a classic-looking ride with modern levels of grip from the modern tires. And that swingarm looks terrific while providing rigidity to resist the forces the new wheel and tire combo can likely generate.
What’s this worth? Well the original XS650’s can be purchased for dirt-cheap, but plenty of professional work has clearly gone into this. Bidding is currently at $4,500 with just a day and a half to go, and that looks like a pretty good deal for the fun this bike promises.