1981 Yamaha XS650S (Special) - Project Bike #5


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After completing the 1977 Yamaha XS650D project bike #4 for my friend Scott, I decided to purchase a similar bike from the same seller. It is a slightly newer 1981 Yamaha XS650S (Special) with under 9,000 miles on it.


I have torn it down pretty far, assessed things, and ordered parts, etc. So far, I have completed:
  • Mount new Avon Roadrider tires
  • Clean and paint the battery box
  • Assessed that I can probably make a spare 2008 Triumph Bonneville seat work on this bike because I hate the stock seat! I will recover the seat with a nonbranded cover.
  • Cleaned the frame, engine and dirty, grimy bits
  • New chain
  • New Euro-style handlebars
  • New Biltwell grips

The 1981 XS had solid-state ignition from the factory, so I will not have to make that conversion.


It's amazing how similar these are to the Triumph Bonneville's!


Staff member
I'm thinking about adding the second caliper and rotor to the front fork like these Specials had when they were sold in Europe. I will probably keep the original metallic silver paint, and either just buff it out, or possibly clear coat and then buff... leaving the imperfections and age spots there. I may bob the fenders a bit. I also plan to use modern flexible LED lighting as I did on one of my Bonneville project bikes. It creates a very clean, streamlined look! New Ikon rear shocks are also on the way.


Staff member
Well, the 1981 Yamaha XS650S project bike is now nearly completed and running! I've integrated a Triumph Bonneville seat and an LED rear taillight/signals product. The front turn signals are also LED. The new exhaust is a Delkavic all-stainless 2 into 1 system. The tank color is Triumph Bonneville Warm Silver from 2002.

I already have a buyer who will be riding this as his first bike this coming Spring 2021.


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Sal Paradise

Hey man, there is probably no one here anymore. I barely made it back in by finally remembering my ancient password. Its amazing how good that bike looks with the Triumph seat.