With Chopped festival on the horizon, we happened upon Luke’s XS650 Chopper. A 1974 model that has been rebuilt from the ground up with a very distinctive outcome.
Luke picked up the Yamaha two years ago, trading out his super reliable Honda VT1100 on a promise of a solid daily runner that with a bit of TLC could become a really nice little chopper. That solid runner turned out to be a 3/4 assembled, shell of a bike with rats nest wiring and a strange intermittent problem that made it cut out after getting hot.
The cutting out issue was a combination of a faulty electronic ignition system and a hairline crack in a spark plug that expanded when hot.
Hearing Luke talk about the initial stages of the build, it was clear to see the detail and effort that went into making the XS into a stable and reliable work horse, before setting his sights on the aesthetic side of things.
The list of modifications in extensive, but below is a summary of the most interesting:
· Hard tail 4 inch stretch 2 inch drop
· Pamco digital electronic ignition
· Hughes hand built PMA kit
· Full re wire (thanks to my buddy Doug for helping me out and being patient with all my dumb ass questions)
· Custom made electronic canister/ box with removable shelf so all electrics can be easily worked on
· Sprung solo seat
· Custom handmade sissy bar
· Custom handmade tail light and number plate bracket
· Custom handmade handle bars
· Custom handmade speedo bracket
· Leather belt battery strap
The paint job on the bike is clearly the highlight. Drawing inspiration from Gen Love Ear Art, a Japanese artist who takes his own influence from the Chopper art of the 1960’s, and turns a blind eye to the influences of the modern day. A combo of lace inlays, colour fades, wild west silhouettes and pin striping, the panel work on the tank lines up with the panel work on the frame to help create a more flowing look.
“The paint on the bike was matt brown when I got the bike and just did nothing for it. I use to be an automotive spray painter and also worked as a TAFE teacher, teaching others how to do automotive paint, so I couldn’t deal with riding around with someone elses paint job on my bike.
These days im a uni student and a surfing coach at Bondi Beach so I only paint friends bikes/parts and do stuff for myself. The problem was I had a crazy paint scheme in my head with some techniques that people don’t usually see and none of my mates were keen on me experimenting on their stuff, so I decided to use my bike as a guinea pig and went to town… Whats the worst that could happen?”
With a 4 month rush before Chopped Festival 2014, Luke set out to buy and complete the build to ride to the show. Unfortunately the dream didn’t stay alive for long as the more uncovered, the more of a mess the bike was in. One year on though, and all is well. The bike is finish and the trip is planned.
“This year my mate Doug and I have been pushing to get our bikes done and were going to make it. Doug has a 1969 triumph t100 that was full original and now has a hard tail sissy bar new tail light, new oil tank, bars and too many other parts to list. I’ll be doing its paint work after chopped.”
“The plan is to spread the ride out over a few days and meet up with some mates on the way. Leaving Wednesday morning riding to Albury and crashing the night. Then from Albury down to Ballarat to meet up with a few mates and crash the night there, finally leaving with the whole crew from Ballarat and role into Chopped on Friday morning.
The ride home is chopped to Albury, then next day Albury back to Sydney. Our girls are flying down so were pretty much on our own for a good slab of the ride, plenty of tools will be packed and a few spares as it will be the furthest either of the bikes have been since the completion of their builds.”
Whilst it might not be to everyone’s taste, taking the risk on the paint job paid off in our opinion. If you’re hitting Chopped this year, even in a lineup of hundreds of bikes you’ll be able to spot this one a mile off.