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John Glimmerveen

Yamaha XS650

By July 21, 2012

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It was never a pretty bike, but looks are not everything. And judging by the sheer number of these bikes sold, the Yamaha XS650 was a great success.

What made this bike special for many was the reliable parallel 4-stroke twin-cylinder engines. This engine has been used in everything from world championship sidecar MX bikes, to helicopters!

Originally developed in collaboration with Toyota cars, the Yamaha engine was unique in one critical area, its bearings. No doubt based on their 2-stroke experience, Yamaha used needle bearings for the big end bearings, and ball bearings for the crank--even the camshaft of the OHC engine was supported in ball bearings.

Today, the Yamaha has a large following in the classic community, and with around 500,000 units produced between 1969 and 1985, there are plenty of examples to choose from. Also attracting classic buyers is the spares' availability for this bike which is plentiful.

July 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm
(1) Pete says:

I was working for a multi line (Y, H, S) dealer from 79 ~ 83. The 650 was a great bike…stone axe reliable, excellent value, easy to maintain and enough different ‘styles’ to satisfy all but the edges of each genre.

Kawasaki had a 650 twin around the same time….it was OK, but the Yamaha was twice the bike.

And you’re quite right about chairs! ….There’s a fairly large group of side car racers / enthusiasts in Ontario and there’s lots of them based on 650 Yamahas.

March 28, 2013 at 4:54 am
(2) Thomas says:

I think it looked great except perhaps the factory “Custom”.

Clean lines without fake race appearance.

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