Small Bike. Small Budget. Big Result.

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.

33 Responses to “Small Bike. Small Budget. Big Result.”

  1. 1 Eric Maurer Jul 6th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    nice bike…. but what is the difference is pros and amateurs anyway? Does ANYONE just build motorcycles (some sell parts, build cars, maintain, etc). Just becuase someone doesn’t work at a shop, but builds a bike…. does that not make him pro? Who decides? Is there a pane;, a board, a secret society with a secret handshake? Do you get a license that say you are a professional bike builder.

    If the only rule is that you make money doing it, well then yee hawww…. I be a pro bike builder 🙂

    But seriously….. I am still drunk from the 4th…. this bike is awesome and he deserves some serious attention. This cat is a pro in my book, now let’s see if the grand pooh baahs agree and give him the gold key and the secret handshake..

  2. 2 Brandon Jul 6th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Eric. I agree. You still must be drunk from the 4th. Where did you read that LC Fabrications is qualified as amateur? I don’t see it. Go to sleep. Then read again when you will get back all your mind. By the way, nice little bike.

  3. 3 Eric Maurer Jul 6th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    sorry….. not a comment against LC or the builder, but in reference to Cyril’s comment “An inspiration to all those, pros or amateurs, who have the urge to customize with a very limited budget.”
    My comment was about who defines pros vs. joes….. not that this bike was, or that LC is, amatuer.

    btw…. I still want to know what the secret handshake is

  4. 4 Jose Jul 6th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    The bike is cute. Like it. I am sure women would find it very friendly.

  5. 5 LCFab Jul 6th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Jose…that kinda hurt…..actually if a bike doesnt weigh 800 pounds due to its 360 rear and tons of chrome everything covers, it doesnt need a huge ultima box motor to get it into rolling status, not to mention I live in the blue ridge mountains, and we like to ride through them! No harm intended, its all in fun…had to take a stab back though! amateur vs pro…..not sure what to call myself….we will be competing in the Artistry In Iron show at vegas this year, and it is an absolute honor to be asked to attend, but I did find it strange to be picking my schedule for the “Master Builder’s Autograph session” I build bikes, i make parts, sometimes i make money at it, sometimes they put me all over magazines, and its all a huge blessing…but I still work 40 hrs at a “regular” job too.

  6. 6 Eric Maurer Jul 6th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    LCFab…. very well put!
    Again, this is a beautiful bike, can’t wait to see what you do for Artistry and AMD. Best of luck!

  7. 7 just my opinion Jul 6th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I am not sure why anyone bashes any bike. I have owned and riden everything from the newest HD to Honda’s, Yamaha’s and mini bikes and every one of them was fun to ride. I say if it get the wind in your hair and you like it. IT MUST BE GOOD. Nice job on this build. Shows that you can build something cool on a small budget. I like it, pro or not does not matter. Great job.

  8. 8 Darin Maltsberger- Instructor@MTI Jul 6th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Great bike! Those XS bikes are a whole lot of fun to work with. My students found themselves with a very tight budget last january as well and I had a friend donate a “junkyard find” to my class with the understanding that they “make something out of it”. The boys kept their out of pocket expenses to around $2500.00, begged a few donations and recycled parts from farm equipment to lawn mowers to pull their build together. But they did an awesome job. If you get a chance, check them out at or they are taking the bike to Sturgis to show it in the Backstreet Chopper Show sponsored by The Horse magazine. Again…..a really sweet bike and I bet it’s a fun ride as well.

  9. 9 A 1 CYCLES Jul 6th, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    lc fab, you build excellent bikes, and you eye for detail is great…i just get jealous when i work 65 hours a week at my shop barley breaking even in this tough time for a bike shop..when you work your 40 get benefits and vacations and get to go to your shop after hours and really spend qaulity time building…many many home shop guys like you have great attention to detail and are very creative..where as us shop owners have to change tires, rebuild motors, dyno tune and at the end of the day sometimes im not in the mood to build bikes….inspiration must be there and i guess my rant is 15 years of doing this as a shop owner “pro builder” i wouldnt mind a step back to a regular job and a nice little shop behind my house….your bikes are nicew and the moniker “pro” is only in other peoples becuase you love becuase you make money at it…build as if no one will ever see it but you, and build it so if the whole world sees it, it will still stand on its own.

  10. 10 thelma Jul 6th, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    IF I was just starting to learn to ride a motorcycle, this cool little bike would be the hot setup! I believe woman riders would at least demo ride it.Maybe you could bring it to Sturgis?

  11. 11 John Green Jul 6th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    LC left amateur status in the dust with panster
    Great bike love to see it this year
    Keep turning them out you are on a roll

  12. 12 Don Jul 6th, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Doesn’t look like a girls bike to me. Love the minimalist look of a RACER. Reminds me of those Nixon & Romero Triumphs and BSA dirt trackers. I get it and like it.

  13. 13 LC Fabrications Jul 6th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    A-1 you said it…matters not what they say, if I like it its perfect, if I dont it gets cut up and reused!
    Dont be too jealous though, 40 hrs at work, plus design/manufacture/package parts, plus dealing with orders, this all totals 65-80 hrs per week, plus 3 kids and a wife, and a good sized garden to boot! seems like I hardly find time to do what I really want to do…….lock myself inside a shed and build bikes! I actually envy those who get to at least work on bikes all day…….and am trying my hardest to lose the 40 hr job to pursue your line of work. Like they say the grass is always greener on the other side!

  14. 14 Peter Soley Jul 6th, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Love this small bike, small budget big result bike. Congrats LC.

  15. 15 Geny Jul 6th, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Great job Jeremy. Continue to feature more bikes like that Cyril. You are a pro in my books!

  16. 16 Josh Kemper Jul 6th, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Bravo. Job well done. Enjoy it. Sell it. Repeat.

  17. 17 Dar - Brass Balls Bobbers & Choppers Jul 6th, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Saw this bike in person a few weeks ago and loved it. Great job!

  18. 18 martin Jul 6th, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Now that builder has talent and class…….

  19. 19 krugger Jul 7th, 2010 at 1:23 am

    Great job, cheap, tasty , light and must be very fun to ride!

    Well done guys!

    See you in Sturgis!

  20. 20 Tom at Franklin Church Choppers Jul 7th, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Nice job Jeremy, your bikes never cease to amaze!!

  21. 21 Kyle Alane Jul 7th, 2010 at 7:07 am

    LC, I’m a female, and the first thought that I had when I saw the photo in the blog, “That is so cute” But it was a compliment. I love it! After reading the full story, I completely appreciate your talent and the work put into it. It’s beautiful!

  22. 22 Bigal Jul 7th, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I think it is all part of the great , great question: What comes first the Chicken or the Egg? The Bike is Kool < how much?

  23. 23 maroco Jul 7th, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Great bike, i belive the diference betwen amateur or pros. is that the pros. have licences to build, garanties,
    T.U.V aprovment etc, one amateur can be good buiding bikes, but needs certifications.
    Because if anyone start build bikes whidout know perfectly what are doing, we risk to have more acidents.
    So the guys wo have talent, should be try to do it the rigth way.Segurity first.

  24. 24 LCFab Jul 7th, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Thats sort of like college educated vs working man…….Ive seen some folks are orn with the ability to see what works, others go to school, get lots of fancy paperwork, then “engineer” a total disaster. If I was gonna pay someone to do a bike for my firstborn, Id go with the old schooler who’s done everything long before id go to the lateset T.U.V. approved motorcycle manufacturer.

  25. 25 Darin Maltsberger- Instructor@MTI Jul 7th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I totally agree with what you are saying. I now teach at a Technical School, but I also spent 21 years “doing it”. I am not an engineer, I’ve been told by engineers that the things I built would never work………and yet here we are…..decades later and those machines still function like the first day. I teach my students that the books,the Lab time and the experiences that they get in my classes are only the beginning……..learning is a life long experience. It never stops for any of us.

  26. 26 maroco Jul 7th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    LCFab, i agree with yours statments, because i live an identical situaction, but if we want be sucecefull, we have to work whit some rules, we can build many bikes during our lives but if aren´t street legal they have to stay at our garages. At least we can express our ideas and see our work reconize by others,that like us simple love bikes. Whit hard work ideas and some luck, people can make dreams true.

    Best regards from Portugal!

  27. 27 Steve 'brewdude' Garn Jul 7th, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    very sweet Jeremy! As always!

  28. 28 LC Fabrications Jul 7th, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks Steve…I kinda thought you might like this one!

    also to Fred…Good to hear from you, send me an email!

  29. 29 nicker Jul 7th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    You have the right idea.

    “…a lack of three things: money, experience, and the proper equipment….”

    That’s how most of us got started. And the original objective had nothing to do with making money.
    Here’s the master at coming up with something from nothing, moreover doing it with nothing.
    (and did it right up until the day he died)

    As A1- said:

    “…build because you love because you make money at it…build as if no one will ever see it but you, and build it so if the whole world sees it, it will still stand on its own….”

    Once building becomes your primary source of income, chances are that will drive the “bloom is off the rose.”

    Remember, all the great artists had to have a Patron to support them in a “style to which they wanted to become accustom.” Those that didn’t had to either spend their time cranking out crap to pay bills or live knee-deep in shit to do whatever they could afford to do.

    And for those who think retirement from a full time job is the answer, if you’ve managed to accumulate enough $$$s to let ya do what ya want, looks like you’ll likely spend the rest of your life fighting off the Socialists who are now trying to redistribute it.


  30. 30 live2rideaglide Jul 8th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Hey guys, The idea is that it doesn’t take a lot to create a lot. The difference can be made up by imagination , creativity and ingenuity. It certainly is nice to have a CNC to make those one off custom parts but it is only a tool in the hands of the craftsman just like a hacksaw and benchgrinder. When you look at a certain bike it may not be your cup of tea and that’s alright , we all have our different tastes. But even if you dont particularly like the style you can appreciate the craftsmanship and vision of the artist. ( I wax poetic) . This particular bike sure reminds me of the old flat track days on a DMR , ( Dick Mann Replica ) OSSA. and the 501 Husky motocross bike we modified to run the short flat tracks. Many a factory xr750 pilot got to see the butt end of that creation.
    The banter, a bike like this gives birth to , is a testimony to it’s uniqueness and outside the box creativity, Let’s face it, if it was run of the mill ” undifferent ” we would not be talking about it. Pro or amateur who cares, as long as it teases my eyes and causes my vision of what a bike can be, to go where it has never been before , it is cool. Remeber the imortal words of Gunny Highway , in
    Heartbreak Ridge , you can beat me you can kick me just don’t BORE ME. Hey LC , thanks for not boring me. Flat track-slide-an-glide. Peace bros from live2rideaglide.

  31. 31 live2rideaglide Jul 8th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Hey guys , showing my advanced age; correction it was a 501 MAICO not Husky. My apologies. slippin-n-glide.

  32. 32 Pete Jul 9th, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Nice bike, I love the parts on your website. Glad to see innovation like this for these old bikes. I keep a 69 triumph bonneville around just for the fun of customizing it. I like my V-twin too, Ive got the best of both worlds. I wouldnt let go of either.

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