Jacks XS650 Chopper


I’ve been sat at this keyboard for ages now, trying to think of a catchy, clever & witty title for this write up-
Jack’s black…
Jack the Ripper…
Jack the Knife…

click here to view larger imageNope, I’ve rummaged around in my bag of witticisms & come up empty handed on this one. Ah well, make up your own title. Whatever you call it, Jack’s black chop is a pretty cool machine.
Although still only in his late 20s, Jack’s already put in quite a few years as a hotrodder, running a Pinto engined ’23 T roadster, before turning his attentions to bike building. In keeping with the stripped, bare bones approach to his cars, the bike’s a study in minimalism. There’s nothing here that ain’t needed & don’t it look good on it. Less is most definitely more.
The basis of the bike’s a Halco Tuning XS650 Yamaha. Not one of Tony Hall’s legendary 840cc big bore conversions, but a standard 650. Tony shipped over old stock from American dealers, bench-tested them & sold them alongside his tuned motors. So the engine’s in standard trim, except for Boyer electronic ignition, a pair of Mikuni VM carbs, also bought new from Halco, & a crisp sounding slash-cut drag pipe system, put together by young Jack himself from a collection of mild steel pre-formed bends & wrapped in high temp racing bandage. The original kickstart’s been reworked to clear the pipes with a Sportster footpeg as a pedal.
click here to view larger imageThe tidy little hardtail frame was built 8 or 9 years ago by “Mad Dog”, using one inch O.D tube. Jack’s made a few alterations since, like welding in integral chain adjusters in place of the original Jap bike ones. He also turned the wheel spacers & various bits & bobs on a small lathe in his shed, from a lump of titanium picked up at his local scrappy.
The whole front end, including the yokes, was transplanted from Jack’s Harley Sportster, which now sits immobile, awaiting another unsuspecting donor. The tubes are pushed up through the yokes by an inch to give the desired ride height. Front braking’s courtesy of a tidy little Honda NSR125 caliper. The 19 inch genuine Akront front rim’s matched by a 16 inch Spanish Akront copy down back, laced to a standard XS drum, which was liberated from another XS chop, along with the Bates headlight & mini Cats Eye rear.
Suzuki Savage controls sit on w-i-d-e one inch bars with double bends, created by Jack by packing the tubing with click here to view larger imagefine sand, plugging the ends & using a borrowed hydraulic pipe bender. His Dad’s a bike nut too, being an original 60s rocker, & the forward controls were Z1000 rearsets, pinched from his parts pile. Jack says the brake cable sleeving’s been ground away by enthusiastic cornering so he’ll have a new cable guide TIG welded to the engine casing to lift it clear of the road. The side stand’s suffered similar tarmac re-modelling but acts as a handy gauge to the bike’s lean limit –he just pulls up a bit when it starts sparking.
The lovely little one gallon-ish tank, which suits the bike so well, is an original “Axed” Mustang, sold by the likes of Paugho & Drag Specialities many years ago, but sadly no longer available, probably because it gives a range of just 60 miles or so. Jack’s topped it off with a chrome wheel centre cap welded to a standard screw on filler cap. A nod to his hotrodding tastes & just wacky enough to be cool without going over the top. It was one of a matched set of four, so maybe that’s a good reason to build a trike now! The minimal ethos extends to the home-made brown leather solo seat & rear guard, both of which are pared down to the brink of non existence. Any less click here to view larger image& they wouldn’t be there at all. Any more & they’d ruin the lines of this little gem.
In keeping with the less is more theme, Jack had originally planned a plain black paintjob, but after having the frame powder-coated in gloss black, he accepted the offer of a workmate to spray the tank. The sprayer persuaded him to go for a pair of off-set white stripes, one half inch & one quarter inch. The guy obviously had vision as everyone agrees they set the simplicity of the build off perfectly. Again, just enough, not too much. Not bad for 40 quid. The whole bike’s been built on a shoe-string budget, rescuing & recycling as much as possible in the same way his cars were created. Like the spun ally dummy oil tank. It holds the battery, ‘leccy ignition unit & fuse box. Made from two aluminium saucepans, liberated from chalets at the Hemsby holiday camp rock n roll weekender. The catch on the lid’s taken from a cooker.
click here to view larger imageThis is one of the nicest little rides I’ve seen in a long time. I wouldn’t change a thing on it. Not flashy, not complicated, just built to enjoy.
There’s already a 50s style bobber, with fat 16 inch wheels back & front, in the making.
Let’s hope Jack’s back soon.



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