Yahama XS650 Hardtail and Bratstyle Frames

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XS650 Bobbers - A Tale of Two Tails

The venerable Yamaha XS650, first introduced in 1970, has long been a popular platform for custom bike builders. The tail of any chopper or bobber is essential to creating the lines and flow of the bike, and most Yamaha bobbers have one of two tails:

  • Hardtail: no shocks; all shock absorption comes from the seat and rear tire
  • "Bratstyle" tail: a style derived from emulating the bikes produced by a custom shop in Japan run by a guy named Go Takamine, these bikes often employ frame modifications to lower the seat pan and tail but conserve stock suspension.

XS650 Weld-on Hardtails

Instead of purchasing a full-on custom XS650 frame, many DIY builders opt to purchase a (relatively) inexpensive hardtail designed to be welded in place of the stock rear frame on the XS650. Typically you can request the amount of stretch you would like. There are several vendors of XS650 weld-on hardtails, including Elswick Cycles, TC Brothers, and David Bird hardtails sold through Low Brow Customs - just to name a few. Most of these tails cost between $200 and $300. For a bit more, many vendors will allow you to ship your frame and they will do the hardtail conversion for you, then ship back your frame.

XS650 Bolt-on Hardtails?

If you want to hardtail a Triumph, there are several options for bolt-on hardtails; however, these are not really available for the XS650.

XS650 Bratstyle Tails

Many build do a one-off build for their bratstyle frame. That said, there are some Bratstyle kits on the market, such as the $85 Brat Kit offered by Visual Impact (visualimpact2.com) out of Glenside, PA. Like a weld-on hardtail, you will have to be comfortable with chopping and welding your frame (hey, you're building a "chop"-per, right?).Visual Impact offers a step by step tutorial on their website, and you can watch a video of their XS650 Bratstyle kit in action below.

If you don't have a lot of welding experience, it's always best to have the work done by a pro. You don't want bad welds compromising your safety at freeway speed.

XS650 Brat Kit

XS650 Bobber and Chopper Frames

There are quite a few shops which sell full XS650 bobber frames and chopper frames. Typically, these will run you $900 or more, but you won't have to chop up your existing frame. Most of these frames, such as the ones sold by Ardcore Choppers out of Indianapolis, come with an MSO (Manufacturers Statement of Origin). This allows for registering and titling your bike in most states; HOWEVER, an MSO is NOT a VIN. Check with your local DMV about regulations concerning the registration of custom bikes.

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