XS650 Cafe – ‘The Beast MK2’ from the Limey


XS650 Cafe “The Hornet”

Well, I thought I would share my ongoing cafe project with the chopper world. I believe that form should follow function, so I started this little thing after my last build (the flat tracker beast… which can be seen on my finished projects page at www.limeybikes.com.. which was so much fun to ride that I nearly wet myself every time it started up. Soooo… this is basically an XS650 Special… or most of the frame is and the lower half of the engine.

It has Excel 18 inch rims, stainless spokes, fork damper valves, progressive springs, alloy swingarm, Brembo brakes (except for the front caliper… incidentally, the rear brake is a work of art from Banke Racing), 750 kit, Shell No.1 race cam, titanium valve tops, serious gas flowing, stainless valves, race clutch, Mikuni RS36 smoothbores (what a bitch to link up…

it’s so tight that I can’t use intake gaskets), a gorgeous megaphone from Apollo Cones welded to 1.75 inch stainless pipes (thanks Matt), Yoshi rearsets, all electrics are under the seat (and it even has blinkers built into the headlight), Scitsu race tach…. blah blah blah… the list goes on and on.


XS650 Café Racer_0727

XS650 Café Racer3

As you can all see, the bike is sporting some extreme stopping power with a 320mm Brembo front rotor, Tokico caliper, the rear is completely Brembo, Aluminum rear sprocket, X-ring chain, the lovely aluminum rear swingarm, S&W shocks (I used to deal in those back in the 80’s), Integrated turn signals front and rear (yes, the front ones are built into the headlight), Stainless 2 into 1 exhaust (thanks Apollo Cones and Mattt for sticking it together)… and last, but not least… the paintwork is back from Full Custom Fab. It looks very smart indeed. I hope that this will give a few people inspiration to do something mechanically wonderful… even though this one is lacking in any chrome whatsoever!

XS650 Café Racer_0726

As it happens, I did do all the work on the bike and I specialize in XS650 engines and electrics (I build engines for a couple of the chop guys in Austin too). I also used to own a bike shop in London, so I like to bring the true meaning of a cafe racer to these shores. The only parts of the bike I can’t take credit for is the exhaust (although my design) and the rear brake hanger… apart from that it’s all me.

XS650 Café Racer_0728

Well, the last 2 parts arrived and after a small earthing issue… it fired right up. I still have to dial those Mikuni RS carbs in, but it sounds amazing so far… like an angry rottweiler with an amplifier.

XS650 Café Racer_0730

Ted > ” Cool, how long have you been in the states. Are you set up with a bike shop in Texas?

Well, I have been in the US for 7 years (love the weather here in Texas) and no, I don’t have a proper shop yet (that will come soon I hope). I work from my home in a 2 car garage at the moment. I grew up in a cafe racer environment and used to race liquid-cooled RD350’s when I was a kid, so I really built this thing to perform as it should and let the looks of the thing become secondary.

XS650 Café Racer_0731

> That is a beautiful looking aluminum swingarm. I saw it on eBay a while back. Was it a direct bolt on or did you have to do some modifications to get it to fit properly?

Yes, it does bolt on (as it’s for an SR500), but the rear axle on an XS650 is 20mm and the SR500 is a 17mm, but as I was using a front hub in the rear, the 17mm worked out perfectly with some creative spacing.

> A stock xs650 runs about 450 lb. With all the aluminum’ The Hornet’ must be pretty freaking light. Do you know what she weighs in at?

Actually, a stock Special is over 480 lbs. The last flat tracker I built (on my www.limeybikes.com site) weighed in at 365 lbs with fluids, and this one is a lot more weight conscious… I would guess at 340-350 lbs with approximately 70+ rear wheel horses. I’ll have to get this on a dyno soon.

More from the The Limey – Strawberry-shortcake-from-limey-bikes..

Chris; AKA ‘The Limey

tel: 512 909 1542

Leave a comment below!



  1. Hans from Holland says:

    Outstanding job Chris!!!! Really like everythin’ bout it. Good choise on that black rims and ahhhhh, that swingarm is superb!!!!
    The joy, love and craftmanship drips of this project, congrats!

  2. Ted says:

    Yo Hans, I am loving this bike to. The swing arms insanely cool. Some good inspiration before I head out to the garage for the evening.

  3. Eric says:

    I love how you said you let the “look” become secondary to the function of the bike. Strange how that mentality turns out some of the nicest bikes around.

    IMO it’s gotta work well to look good! Everything else is just posing.

  4. Hans from Holland says:

    Well Ted, ah, next shift is comin’. I just came out of the garage.
    Did some ignition timing, tommorow gonna take my baby out for a ride. Finally the freeze is over here!!! Good weekend to all of you.

  5. Tech7 says:

    I’ve been doing everything all wrong! This is what I should have done! I love it. Next XS will be this way. Outstanding. Thanx for sharing.

  6. The Limey says:

    Thank you all for the kind words!
    I thought I would update on its running, as the carbs are now balanced… although it seems to be running a touch rich, it revs like crazy and I can’t wait to road test it properly. The tach is amazingly stable and almost worth the price tag.
    The nice thing about Mikuni RS carbs is that you can adjust the needle height by only taking the top caps off… so it’s off out with a small allen wrench, a pair of ear defenders and a few main jets tomorrow to see how it goes.
    Wish me luck!

  7. I bet this bike rips. Good work. I’d enjoy watching a video of this thing ripping up some streets. How’s it run on the new rice rockets?

  8. reynoldburton says:

    Thats some far outstanding caferacer! Just how it should be – love it.
    Function over form? To me it seems just perfect in both ways…. o.k., can´t say anything about function, but I believe in 🙂

  9. Steve says:

    Great looking build , nice job !!

  10. Gig III says:

    Holy shit… beautiful.

  11. Puker says:

    Fukin gorgeous!! Wow that thing’s a rolling token for the cockwash. All the cafe-riding blokes around Austin are gonna be taking Captain Picard to warp speed over this one. That one’s done proper… no fretting about looking like a nonce passing out candy on a Halloween bike. Congrats! Time to get pissed and enjoy the spoils! -A

  12. kenb says:

    I so would love to hear it and that bad ass tracker wow some sweet ass eye candy, nice work limey!!!

  13. Tim crash81 says:

    Way cool! Love the racer bike look. I did the same thing last year with my 650 but went for the flat tracker rat rod look. I’ve been meaning to get it posted her on the board. Got to say that swing arm is the Kat’s ass.. I gota have one. Nice job all the way around on the bike,, everything has that clean functionual look.

  14. Starchild says:

    One of the coolest Cafe racers i have ever seen.

    Where did you get the brake og clutch asamblies?

  15. Starchild says:

    I’m new to this.

    And the clip ons?

  16. The Limey says:

    Seems like the swingarm is popular! It’s available from Motolana and it’s very nicely made. I also have an original Profab alloy swingarm… which I might let go for a pot-load of cash.

    To answer Starchild’s questions… it’s all a mixture of stuff from Ducati, Hondas and Suzuki bikes… It’s a case of knowing what will work and how well.

    To list a few things: Front caliper = Suzuki SV650, Front caliper mount = custom made, Front master = XR650R, Front rotor = Ducati something, Rear rotor = CBR1000RR, Rear rotor carrier = custom made, Rear master = Yamaha R6.
    Clip-ons = Vector 35mm. Clutch lever = Yamaha YZ125

    Hope this helps!

  17. wagemakers ben says:

    graet sit can you help my on adres aloy swingarm for xs 650 drum brake end oil fitting cooler on enginne greethings ben

  18. tom says:

    eez beautiful. chrome is overrated.

  19. Carbon-arc says:

    That really is Sweet – Frpm a Pommie to a Limey ;-))

  20. benjy says:

    u hit the nail on the head.function 1st.that’s how choppers started+look at them now!your flat tracker is also great

  21. Alex Armstrong says:

    Im workin on an xs 650 and can only hope to have it as cool as this.

  22. Alex Armstrong says:

    youtube vid??
    think its time.
    thanks for takin the time to post all the info..Great Job on my dream street bike!
    I raced motocross since i was a kid with my dad..(from Ireland). So i love fast light cafe racers…wow gets no better Great Job!!!!!

  23. Kelly Good says:

    Hey Chris, that is an awesome looking bike. You did a great job on it, and the colors definitely resemble a “hornet”. My friend used to own a Yamaha Virago 750 air cooled bike back in the late 80’s.

    Enjoy riding it!!!