1976 Yamaha XS650-C
French Blue they called it. I have had this picture of Bob Dylan on the wall of my office for the last few years. He is riding a classic 650 Bonneville with his quote:
“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”
I found that image and quote went so well together as a symbol of freedom and living life. I loved the idea of having a classic bike, and could only dream of having something like an old 650 Bonneville.
Fast forward a few years and I was sitting in an airport awaiting to board my plane home from a business trip. I was texting with a close friend about classic bikes and the Yamaha XS650 came up. I didn’t know much about them, so I did some research and soon found a pretty good specimen not to far from where I lived in VT.
By the time I landed I had struck a deal with a guy I found on Craigslist. I met him in the town of Lake Placid, New York, home of the 1980 Olympics. I followed him up a long winding dirt road to his cabin in the woods and found a garage full of bikes. I looked the bike over and it appeared to be in good condition but the engine needed some love. We loaded it up and back to Vermont I went.
Over the next few winter months I combed through the bike. I replaced the clutch pads, clutch springs, the clutch hub cush springs and the starter gear. I adjusted the valves, rebuilt the carbs and electronically balanced them. I switched out the ignition to an electronic one, and changed the shift linkage for a more reliable set up. In addition to all of that I replaced all gaskets, seals and tubing. The bike now runs and starts like a dream, one kick and I am off running. I have enjoyed many great late summer days cruising down a Vermont road with the sun setting in my mirrors. Motorcycles really do set you free.