Contact me to tell me that you customized a Yamaha and that it’s called “Chicken Salad” and the probability to be featured in my Blog will be extremely low….until I see the bike and like it very much! Teased by the fact that this custom 1979 XS650 Yamaha was customized by Jeremy Cupp whose work at LC Fabrications is mostly on Harley Sportsters and modern Triumphs, I asked him how he ended up doing this project. Here is the story of “Chicken Salad”. An inspiration to all those, pros or amateurs, who have the urge to customize with a very limited budget.
“Late last summer, the shop was in kind of a dead spot,. We had a lot of big ideas of what to do for a winter project including a salt flat racer and going back to the AMD Championship. Unfortunately it all hinged on selling our beloved Panster. We try to keep our personal projects separate from our parts business, so the creation of a new bike is always dependent on the sale of another one. Meanwhile, on the other side of town our good friend Bruce Walker Jr. a guy so cool the temperature drops 10 degrees when he walks in the room, the one with the big black trucks , sweet little roadsters, and all the fine women and picked up this ’79 XS650 from one of his drivers for cheap. This bike was near mint condition with only 11K on the 31 year old odometer. One late night filled with good ideas, Bruce did a nice hack job on the frame, that is where the bike sat for over a year. This is where we tie it all together…
One day, Bruce pulls up outside with the XS-half on his truck. Bruce said “Man it’s just a f-n Yamaha” and he donated it to the cause. The “Beerhaulers are pretty hardcore into traditional American style chops, and just weren’t that interested in this Yamaha. At this point I still had bigger ideas in mind, and it took a few months to finally decide to do something with it. The Panster was still not sold and time to do a bike so we decided we’d just do something quick then turn it over on eBay. By the time we had our XS to roller status the Panster sold to a guy in Germany and we had cash flow to do another build. I began working on the engine and wheels for my next big project, but it bugged me that the XS was half finished just sitting around. Plus it was starting to come out pretty cool. So I decided screw it, let’s do this yamaha and see what we get.
Still trying to keep it smiler to our other bikes we “hard tailed” the stock frame, kept the stock front end, and moved the front wheel to the rear. The offset brake disc and small rear sprocket seemed the perfect setup to run both on the same side, so the front wheel was modified to accept both and moved to its new location on the back of the bike. To keep both brakes on the left side we got an XS1100 dual disc front wheel and left side caliper then shaved the unneeded stuff from it as well as the right leg. The stock front end was bolted up using tapered bearings and custom trees which were designed to work with the front shroud we cut from a piece of aluminum sheet. The bars were then stubbed right into the thick aluminum upper tree, eliminating the need for clamps or risers of any kind. For the tank I used an old CL360 Honda tank that I had re-tunneled and cut a 3” wedge out of the center. The seat section was a small piece of a flat rear fender that I wedged to match the tank, then I built the rest from 14 gauge sheet. The LED tail lights were made to fit in the rear.
The original plan for the engine was to just split the cases, clean, inspect, and reseal everything. Once I got inside I was quite impressed by just how well engineered this engine is. I hated to let a good opportunity go to waste so I dug into some of our new found cash and ordered up a beautifully re-cast 750 cylinder kit from XS Performance. For a carburetor I swapped the stock Keihin for 36mm Mikuni round slides. I did some mild porting, replaced all the gaskets, seals, timing chain and guides then dressed up each piece as I reassembled my new found engineering masterpiece. The paint color was chosen by our local paint store, this color was a mis-match left over from another job but worked well with the black wheels. All the other details and doo-dads were done out of my head as the bike came together. Some of which went on to make up our new line of XS parts. In the end I decided to name the bike “Chicken Salad”, a good explanation of what I thought I was starting out with versus what I was able to transform it into” Jeremy Cupp at LC Fabrications.