Dave Spooner’s XS650 Hard Tail
Words: Chadly Johnson/Dave Spooner
Photos: Chadly Johnson
I’ve had the honor of knowing Dave Spooner for the past several years and have been fortunate enough to own a pair of his custom bikes. A builder since he was a teenager, Dave has a lifetime of knowledge to apply to his creations. Since retiring Dave shifted gears from high dollar Harley builds to much more affordable salvage yard finds that he alters into everything from café racers, bobbers, drag bikes, and hard tails like the one you see before you. I figured it would be easier to let Dave explain how his latest creation came to be.
“Like most of my low buck, home built bike projects, I started with a dirty, rusty, and unloved XS650 Yamaha. The bike was discovered in an outdoor storage area behind a local Triumph dealer. The engine kicked over, it rolled, and the $25.00 purchase price met my criteria. I like starting with XS650s as they are easy to work on, parts are available, and they lend themselves to several different styles. I began the build with a total disassembly and disposing of things like the air box, wiring loom, turn signals, tail lights, and seat. I then put the bare frame on my home made rotisserie to cut, grind, weld, sand blast, and finally do the molding, priming, and painting.
“My buddy Steve Milward made a frame jig for hard tailing 650s. It has adjustable fixtures for setting the wheel base, ride height, and neck rake. We reused the stock rear axle locators and mild steel tubing to fabricate the hard tail section. We used a Sawzall to cut through the tubing and gusset below the neck leaving the top frame rail partially attached. We then simply pulled the bottom of the neck out to determine a rake we liked.
“The engine on this bike came apart easily and was in surprisingly good shape, the piston to wall clearance, and ring end gap were within spec. I just honed the cylinders and did a quickie valve job with valve grinding compound and a cordless drill. I like to retain the electric start feature as at 73 years old, I no longer enjoy kick starting. I like to hide the electric components so I put the battery, regulator, and rectifier in the leather pouch. The LED tail light is a ‘37 Ford replica from Speedway Motors. The headlight is a swap meet item. The speedometer and super bike bars are from Mike's Xs. The gas tank and cocktail shaker mufflers were purchased from Cycle Exchange. The seat was another swap meet item with springs from J&P. For paint, I used DuPont Intense Blue with Croma clear. Pinstriping was performed by local artist, Sprocket.
“The bike was a lot of fun to ride, but had to be sold to fund the next project. The new caretaker is Talon Ganz, who is giving it a good home.”
As you read this Dave is likely in his shop turning out yet another amazing build. The last time I spoke with him he showed me a small super charger he pulled off a car he spotted in a salvage yard. He has plans to adapt the blower to his next XS650 build which I can’t wait to see. Plus, every guy in their 70s needs a blower bike…right?