Garage Built Custom Yamaha XS 650

Everybody in the industry debating a lot about the ways to attract youngsters into motorcycling and possibly into the profession. But nobody’s talking about those who abandoned the sport (of course, wife, children, mortgage, climbing the professional ladder or all of the above are the most often mentioned reasons) and who re-enter it at mid life, as a rider or even as a custom builder. Quantitatively, not enough of them to insure the future of our industry, but comebacks always very interesting to observe to know what these returners want to ride…and build.

An interesting example is Mike McFadden who, at the age of 45, decides to be again a Garage Builder, old school style, meaning challenging his own skills in building bikes without any outside help, doing everything by hand or with very simple tools, never sub-contracting any fabrication job, any welding, any body and paint work, even doing his own seat upholstery!

With little money and an enormous dedication to building bikes the pure and traditional way, Mike ends up producing customs that many top builders and their crews wish they had built. An example is this superb old school racer built from a Yamaha 1980 XS 650 platform. After replacing the frame backbone, the bike was stretched 5″. Then, Mike hand fabricated the entire steel tail section now holding and hiding the battery and all electricals. The exhaust system was conceived to be as discreet as possible to avoid visual distraction from the overall bike lines. Although the pipes exit below the frame, they are hidden in a one-piece stainless steel box. Mike was proud tot ell me that the system sounds like coming from a 50’s Gasser… To reinforce the minimalistic look of the Yamaha, a pair of Invader wheels were mounted and dressed with Pirelli Scorpion tires. Paint was left simple as it always should be on this type of bikes. Just PPG bBlack mixed with vanilla shake & white paint to break color monotony.

The bike is so cool that it is currently on loan to the Yamaha Corporation and being shown in the Progressive International Bike Show across the United States. Eventually Mike hope to get it out to Bonneville and open her up to see what she can do. He is also trying to find a way to get his creation to Europe for an entry into the 2013 AMD World Championship Of Bike Building to be held May 10 to 12 in Essen, Germany . Any sponsor among my readers? You an contact Mike McFadden at M&M Customs 270-925-5607 (Kentucky) or by email at: (photography copyright Jack McIntyre courtesy to Cyril Huze)

24 Responses to “Garage Built Custom Yamaha XS 650”

  1. 1 Ronnie Jan 7th, 2013 at 9:20 am

    A project that many youngsters can approach with a small budget, even if the end result is less nice than this one. Great bike.

  2. 2 Shifter Jan 7th, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Very cool.

  3. 3 Steve Carr Jan 7th, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Very clean, nice bike. I want one!

    Steve Carr

  4. 4 Brent Jan 7th, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Love it but wonder how strong are these wheels?

  5. 5 big woody Jan 7th, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Invaded whdeels were very popular in the impot chop phase . Had a set on a cb750 honda.
    Usual chop were built off an Amen frame.

    AMF chased many Harley rders away with their corporate atttude.

    Image of Harley was destroyed. Bought a new superglide an amf creation. Kept it three months. Paid $2100 got fifteen hundred. Like a boat cheap out before the more severe problems arose.

    Never rode a Harley ago until the evo’s came out .

  6. 6 Darin Maltsberger - Instructor@MTI Jan 7th, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Great looking bike and a lot of cool details! I am showing this to my class today as a referrence to simplicity and design. Thanks for sharing it with us.


  7. 7 Laurence Zankowski Jan 7th, 2013 at 1:12 pm


    This is so me. Great piece of work. Looking for more work from mike.


  8. 8 Marc Mazerolle Jan 7th, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Now that’s cool.

  9. 9 GuitarSlinger Jan 7th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    This is truly one of the nicest builds I’ve seen lately : Professional , Amateur or otherwise .

  10. 10 Manxman Jan 7th, 2013 at 5:47 pm


  11. 11 Dave Blevins Jan 7th, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    A really good looking bike.

  12. 12 izadore007 Jan 7th, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Wow, now that’s movin’ & grovin’ ! You Melokes look at those Hindu Bikes and think wow! I look at this Bike and this XS-650 Motor and it will dance around that Hindu 1000 cc ” mucka mucka, Bike!

  13. 13 RUB Jan 8th, 2013 at 12:16 am

    but would steve McQeen have rode it ? I say YES !

  14. 14 Sean Kellum Jan 8th, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Whoa! I can’t believe that this is custom built. It looks so great that it can even pass for a concept vintage motorcycle. It sure looks like it packs a punch and has lots of power to give a wonderful ride.

  15. 15 Red Jan 8th, 2013 at 8:03 am


  16. 16 Dale Jan 8th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    She’s a beauty

  17. 17 GuitarSlinger Jan 8th, 2013 at 9:04 am

    BWTM ;

    I keep coming back to the photos of this bike ; First studying the details looking for a flaw … can’t find a single one ; Then the overall design .. looking for something out of balance or not quite right … and keep coming up empty handed .

    So my only conclusion can be … this bike is painfully perfect …… oh but it hurts so good . Could it win at the AMD ? That’d all depend on who the judges are and what they’re wanting this year . But I’ll tell you what . In my book this bad little bike is a winner all the way .To be honest I’ll be surprised if I see anything better in 2013 .

  18. 18 Drew Jan 8th, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Very nice & clean design.
    Judging by the rear sprocket it looks like he may have Bonneville in mind?! Ha

  19. 19 TopCat Jan 8th, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Great build and I would love to see more bikes like this than the $50-150K builds that garage builders cannot typically approach. Its a beauty!

  20. 20 THUG Jan 8th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    nice job…

  21. 21 A 1 CYCLES INC. Jan 8th, 2013 at 4:30 pm


  22. 22 Ben Jan 9th, 2013 at 11:17 am

    the invaders make it. with out them it’s pretty boring.

  23. 23 nicker Jan 9th, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Ah yes……. here we are back where it all started………. 🙂 🙂

    But: RE:
    “…Quantitatively, not enough of them to insure the future of our industry,…”

    You missed the point. Garage Builders were never about an “industry.”
    The “industry” evolved to service the legions of non-builders who wanted in on the action.
    And some garage builders stepped in to “fill the need.”

    “… [want to see] the $50-150K builds that garage builders cannot typically approach…”

    You need to get around more.


  24. 24 Steve The Producer Johann Jan 10th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Where are the front brakes? Or am I missing something?

    I prefer to see bikes with real world applications and front brakes are needed in the real world.

    Otherwise very clean and well crafted bike.

    Just my penny’s worth.

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Cyril Huze