Renegade's Phoenix Build


XS400 Enthusiast
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Southernmost New Jersey
In 2006, at the young age of 18, I bought my first motorcycle: a black 1982 XS400J Maxim. I didn't even know how to ride at the time. I learned to ride on that bike, I learned to wok on motorcycles on it, even customize motorcycles on that very bike. I loved it. I rode as often as I could, even took a trip from Cape May, NJ, to Washington DC (200 miles one way) on it.

Then, tragically, on Thanksgiving morning, while I was drinking coffee and watching the parade, a young girl veered off the road and hit my bike, sending it bouncing the width of my yard, and totalling it.

I being the junkyard dog that I am, saved as much as possible in case I could ever use the parts again. The Yamaha badge from the glovebox now lives on the tail of my new bike.

Why do I tell you all this? Well that is the back story to what's to come.

I bought another bike, a 93 XJ600S and did a custom build on that, and though I love that bike, after all these years...the thought of my XS400... I miss it,

Soooo..... to paraphrase the 6 Million Dollar Man: We can rebuild it. We have the technology....Better, stronger, faster...

AND thanks to modern technology, and my current projects: I can do it all and put it on YouTube as a series! Ok, shameless plug. I will of course be going through the whole thing here, but if you want to watch it, thats an option too. Just click HERE

The plan here folks is to rebuild the bike, but to also customize racer style. Now, not the way that a lot would thing to do it, one seater with the flat seat, that little hump thing... but to do it my way; fusing my background as a junkyard dog, what I learned on my sportbike, and my love of the cafe racer style and the XS400J.

The first thing to deal with was the frame. Now I could repair it, maybe use a donor tail...but the insurance company deemed the bike totaled and paid me out for it (less money because I opted to keep it than if I turned it over as it was). I never got any paperwork to change the title....but if I rebuild it, what legal issues could I have? I dont like legal hassle.

So to the internet I went, and on eBay I found it: a 1983 XS400 good frame, with a title. 200 BUCKS! Now thats a great start. Only one little catch that I hadn't noticed.. The listing said XS400, the photos looked right except for this weird thing on the tail what I assumed was a mod from the P.O. Ignorance will get you....

Its the frame from an XS400R...the Seca. So its not exact. The rear gas tank mount is about 2 inches furthe back than I need to use with the Maxim's tank that I got and the tail is different, and its longer. Bugger..

Its ok though; Im modifying it anyway! So I put it into a roller (using the parts I had, included the detroyed rear wheel)

I moved the rear tank mount bar, and did a rough fit of the tank, the stock seat, and the clip-ons I will use.

By the way...put that airbox in BEFORE the swingarm...I had to take it back off to fit the airbox.

Now by this point I had an idea of what I roughly wanted the finished bike to look like. But before I go doing anything major, I want to make sure I know where everything is going to need to be. So using some cardboard, I make a mock-up of the tail that I want. I used the new tail light that I got as a guide for the size of the rear panel, cut a spare seat foam I have in half, and went about connecting the two.

This is of course a very rough shaping. The plan is to cut the frame shorter and pair the front of the rear piece to the contors of the stock side panels. I'm also going to make the cushion for just the one rider, but want the tail to allow for the OPTION of a passenger. Just in case.

And this folks is where we sit for now. I will be updating this as I go, and trying to work as qickly and diligently as I can. Hopefully it goes well and hopefully those of you reading this will enjoy it
Wow...I forgot to update this at all... So lets catch up.

Obviously Im still alive, and still working. Sadly the days Im able to work on the bike have been limited, but I've been making progress. If you are subscribed to My Youtube this is probably a rehash for you.

Last time I posted I had the basic idea of what I wanted to do mocked up in cardboard. Using some scrap metal I had, I cut out the pieces, bent, and welded them to create the tail piece. Its a little rough in the photo, but shaping inst fully complete and it wasnt fully mounted.

I also got the tail light that I will be running; an LED unit with integrated turn signals

I also got the heel plates I needed to fit the Seca's frame ( had the ones for the Maxim), cut the seatpan to fit how I wanted it and got the left side panel I needed to make sure all my body lines flowed properly. I am however still looking for the right side panel (the L shaped small one), I made a replacment out of metal, but I would really prefer to have the real deal. If anyone has a line on one, please let me know.
Also during all this I have been fixing the wiring, but that is boring to take photos of. lol

With most of the wiring set up again, and a lot of the basic parts switched over onto this frame, I set out to get the front end figured out. Some things I learned from my previous build and knew that I had to repeat them on this one. For instance, steel braided brake lines are now a "must have" to me, and the same can be said about adjustable levers (I prefer the shortys). So I got a steel line, and went with the adjustable shorty levers package from Neverland Motor which is great because they came with the perches and master cylinder as well. (I used them on the last build too).

My idea for this bike is that I want it to be sleek and streamlined, so I didnt want funky "sticky-outy" bits like stalk turn signals. To get around this I purchased a headlight unit that has turn signals inside the housing. It still maintains the classic look like I wanted, but with a modern flair, so perfect for my plan. As I looked at it more, I loved the look, loved the idea, but worried about the safety factor of the turn signals not being seen from the sides as i got barends that are turn signals and installed them into the ends of my clipons. Even when my bike was bone stock, I hated the mirrors that the bike came with; the looked classic sure, but didnt really sit at a place where they were much use to me, so bar end mirrors it is. Luckily I found a set that will clamp onto the bars so I can run both the mirrors and my LED bar ends.

The last part of the front that I needed to set up was the cluster. My previous one was smashed to bits (as was most everything else) when the bike was hit, and I wanted to go a slightly different direction if I had to buy a new one. So I bought one online that is an all-in-one digital unit. i read a lot of good reviews on this unit before I bought it, so my fingers are crossed, though Im prepared for the worst. I wired as much of it as I could to plug and play into the stock harness (Yay for keeping smashed pieces with goof connectors) but I have a few last things to set up before the gauge will be usable.

I still have some wiring to figure out and finish, still have to order a new tank, rebuild the motor, but I ordered (what I think is) the last big bit of parts to do this rebuild from Mike's XS, so when that gets here I will be able to do more.


She is coming along, and the further I go the more excited i am to see the bike done and on the road again. Hopefully progress wont go as slowly now and I will be trying harder to keep this updated for those who want to see