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Glad to be here and the XS that was meant to be...

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by AmbientMoto, Sep 18, 2020.

  1. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Glad to be here at the XS400 forum. Thought I'd share how I ended up here...

    Five years ago I was at my friend Mark’s house, he’s a moto guy and had a few bikes in his garage; he had this old Yamaha motorcycle that he needed to sell. It was old and ratty and the price was right. It kicked over and sounded fantastic.
    This was before I ever had my first bike, but I was looking, and man... that was a great bike. I knew it was well cared for, I knew the history. It was a 1981 XS400. Stock but with a 2-1 exhaust and pods. I bought a Yamaha hat that day because I thought it was the right bike for me.... but it turns out it wasn't. We were in the middle of an adoption so all extra funds went that way. So I unfortunately had to pass, and he sold it to someone else. I ended up buying a CB650SC (Nighthawk) a while later that I took apart, rebuilt, rode and sold, back when café/scrambler builds were all the rage.
    The Nighthawk was a great first bike, but I'll always remember that XS.
    Fast forward to present day. My daughter and I are going to rebuild/restore an old bike for one of her homeschool electives. She will learn a lot in the process, plus it will be great time together. She's excited about the idea, and my wife wants a smaller bike she can ride (she is a bit short for my Versys). So it's a win-win-win situation.
    I called another friend who seems to know everybody and everything and asked if he knew of any old bikes that would be right for the project. He mentioned a guy who had a bike that needed to go because of a move. An old Yamaha. So I call the guy, ask a few questions, and drive out to see it. Way out. In the country, to a barn in the middle of nowhere. This guy has an engine, a frame, a tank, wheels, and boxes of all the parts. And a title. We ended up knowing a few mutual friends as he was in the same industry as me. Then suddenly it clicked. I said “wait a minute... did you get this bike from (my friend) Mark?” He said “yes, how did you know...?”
    It was THE bike. The very bike I had seen years ago in my friends garage, the bike that started my love of motorcycling, sitting in boxes in a barn out in the country! The 1981 XS400. This guy had bought it back when I had seen it, and had gradually been taking it apart to do a bobber build. Fortunately he never got that far... He was also a rider and knew how to take a bike apart properly; everything labeled and separated.
    Needless to say it's in my garage now! And for an amazing price. It’s the perfect bike for this project. The engine has great compression and no leaks. The wheels, forks, carbs and tank are in decent shape, and it even has a few spare parts. It'll need some TLC and new consumables but I'm so excited to bring it back to life. My daughter has already been researching the bike; I've given her some basic specs to look up. She gets to choose the colors but she has great taste so the end result will be awesome!

    Yes, you can fit an XS400 in the back of a 4Runner...[​IMG]
    spectra, BBS360 and motoTrooper like this.
  2. motoTrooper

    motoTrooper XS400 Addict

    Congratulations on the reunion, looks quite clean which is always a huge boost in the early bike building process. Awesome that you have a family that shares the love of bikes. Keep posting your progress!
  3. xschris

    xschris XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    It's going to be a project for sure as it's been modified from stock so much. Most OEM stock parts won't fit/work on the frame.
  4. amc49

    amc49 XS400 Junkie

    All mounting tabs removed is going to cause a lot or trouble there.
  5. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Right! Fortunately, we aren't going for a 100% stock restore. Part of the deal of this bike was a few welding chores; I was bummed that the PO removed them but he's going to help replace a few of the things that were removed. Mainly the exhaust hangers/pillion pegs as I really want a non-annoying exhaust. I've done this once before so I know it will be a journey; finding the right jetting and so-forth. But I enjoy all of those things.
    Gra900 likes this.
  6. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Thanks for the vote of confidence:) Should be a fun project.
  7. Gra900

    Gra900 XS400 Addict

    I had exactly the same issue, no exhaust hangers or pillion pegs. Welded on bracket for exhaust and made bolt on pillion pegs
  8. Looking forward to seeing this build. Keep posting progress pics.
  9. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Update: So far we've been doing tasks like rebuild/clean the carbs, clean the engine, clean the wheels, find and replace bits and bobs we need etc. And all from a learning perspective. I've been giving her "assignments" such as measuring things, looking up part numbers and torque values, etc. She received a set of metric sockets for Christmas which we promptly used. She's enjoying it and it's great time together. I'll start posting pics soon; we've been documenting as we go.
    spectra and motoTrooper like this.
  10. spectra

    spectra XS400 Junkie Top Contributor

    Sure hope they came from the Snap On van........... :D

    Good to see a father daughter project....... you still need some spokes ?
  11. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Hahaha. Found some spokes from an awesome member here while buying a few other bits from him.
  12. spectra

    spectra XS400 Junkie Top Contributor

    Good to hear you got it figured out.
  13. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Been a while since any posting... we've been SLOWLY getting everything back together. We've got to hit a certain number of hours to get class credit so there's no rush:) The frame is a rolling frame now; engine going in this week!

    The forum has been invaluable; all of the parts (and lots of helpful info) have come from members.

    So far we've:
    -cleaned and rebuilt the carbs
    -cleaned, repaired, and painted the wheels.
    -found new OEM exhaust:)
    -cleaned and painted the engine, repairing some of the outside wiring as well (oil sensor etc wires were in need of some TLC)
    -forks have been cleaned, filled with new fluid, and painted, with seals and circlips replaced.
    -found a new frame with nothing cut off. The original frame had all of the tabs removed:( So now there's a spare XS frame in the garage.
    -cleaned and re-lubed the steering column and bearings.
    -installed new bars.
    -sanded tank down to metal, cleaned, and painted. It had a few layers of paint so best to start from scratch.

    This is as much about the time spent as it is the bike... but she's still excited about the project, which makes me happy.
    spectra likes this.
  14. xschris

    xschris XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    Great score on a new stock 80-81 xs400 exhaust!! I took me a while to find a set myself. One was still in the factory box with the foam for shipping still in tact. The other from another seller was only wrapped in the yamaha bag. Won't say how little I paid for them but I know speed and sport many years ago wants like $500 for just one side. I feel like I stole them. :D
  15. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    @xschris awesome! Yes I found a guy parting a bike out that just happened to be selling a (titled) frame and exhaust. It's got a few dings and such but it's free of holes or major rust.
  16. CaptChrome

    CaptChrome XS400 Addict

    What a great project to be doing with your daughter! Hopefully, she is absorbing some the mechanical skills knowledge transfer that is no longer taught much today. Plus it is going to be a great story for her to tell when she is older. Good on ya!

    I look forward to seeing your progress as the bike goes together. You are much farther ahead than I am with my own project, so hopefully I can gleen some pointers.
  17. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Posted a question separately but thought I'd put up a photo of where we are! Many hours to go but getting closer.
  18. CaptChrome

    CaptChrome XS400 Addict

    Lookin' pretty nice! I wish I was at this point, but it is some nice motivation for me. Are the handlebars the Euro model from MikesXS?
  19. sir hc

    sir hc XS400 New Member

    looking good, love the blue.
    Mine's been on hiatus for almost 9yrs between grad school and having 3 daughters...
    time to get back at it! thanks to you and your daughter, I might try to get the oldest interested...
  20. AmbientMoto

    AmbientMoto XS400 Enthusiast

    Again... thanks to this forum, we're moving forward.

    Also, @CaptChrome the bars are a pair I had sitting around. Emgo Street Bar.

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