This is Emma- ‘77 XS650/750cc’s

Funded by firearms

This is Emma, my ‘77 XS650.  I bought her a year ago after about two years of planning out what I would do with an XS and searching for the right donor.  Fortunately, she’s turned out pretty much exactly as I envisioned.  She was funded almost entirely by me selling crap that I wanted less than I wanted her; the bulk of the money coming from firearms, bike parts, and vintage skate and punk t’s.

I’m Lang and I’ve owned and ridden bikes all my life; got my first dirt bike at six and my first street bike at twelve. In fact, I never did own a bicycle.  But this is my first ground up build (well really assembly) and as you’ll see, I had a lot of help from some very talented folks at The Chopper Underground.


My friend Dirtnap did the +2″ hardtail and 36* neck rake. He also turned the brass rods for the brake arm and stay and made the fender struts.  The bike wouldn’t exist without his help and friendship. CCgirl (Brianne) of Cycle Cosmetics covered my seat and did a fantastic job of  tooling in my design – yes, there’s a meaning behind each element on the seat, but I won’t bore you with them. Southernmenace (Kevin) of Bartertown Bikes made the brass risers for me and they fit better than any set of risers I’ve ever held.  Scrapmetalart (Craig) from Front Street Cycle made the peaked fender and bent the bars to my specs. Craig’s work is top notch.  G&L Choppers did the brass pegs and mid-controls; really great folks to deal with and they were happy to accommodate my suggestions.  And finally, Blacksmithbilly made my 1.75″ pipes, which contrary to their appearance, were a real bitch to get bent – the guy is an artist. You can find all these folks on TCU.




Now if you’re still with me, I’ll give some more details. When I got her, her compression was low and the poor girl had been sucking in the remnants of her air filter for the last decade or so, so I had Thomas Racing Service in Indiana bore out the engine to 750cc’s w/ Wiseco pistons and install a #1 Shell cam.  Then I popped on a set of 34mm Mikuni round slides.  She also had a cooked rectifier, but rather than just fix what needed fixin’ I went a little overboard and threw on a Sparx three phase alternator and a Pamco ignition.  She’s got decent pep now.




The front end is a hodgepodge of Yami enduro parts: stock 34mm XS trees, DT400 forks, an XT500 hub and some Yami 21″ shouldered rim (to match the rear 18″ stocker).  The headlight is a 105mm CEV moped bucket that I fitted with a mini speedo, push button dimmer, and a tractor headlight.  The gas cap is an old diesel truck cap that I cut and mated to a vented Harley cap. The electrics bags under the seat are French sniper scope cases I found at the local Army Navy – one’s got my battery and the other has my fuses and ignition switch – I rewired her from scratch.

Well, that’s about it so thanks for listening and honk if ya see me on the road!

And if you’re thinkin’ “who the hell are all these people”, well, here ya go:

Good luck w/ your bikes – I look forward to seeing them finished!



  1. blackchop says:

    this bike is badass !

    can i have it back now?

  2. Ted says:

    Hi Joel,
    Your bike turned out freaking rad!! I love everything about it. The brass risers look sick with the wide bullhorn handlebar’s. The leather bag underneath the seat looks perfect and the seat is badass to. I’m digging the front-end the most with the 36% raked neck and the headlight. RAD bike man.

    It sounds like the Velvet Underground playing in the first video.

  3. Lang says:

    Thanks guys. Good ear Ted, that is the Velvet Underground. Blackchop, what’s that expression, something about cold dead hands? 🙂

  4. hooversama says:

    Awesome bike! Vintage look with an amazing attention to details. I love it. One of my favorites. Great photos as well.

  5. Ted says:

    @Lang- I was pretty sure that it was the velvet underground. I have all of Lou Reed’s albums.I will have to post them up. Good stuff for sure…

  6. joe says:

    whoa baby that is what i am talking about! kick ass bike there. really came out great. congrats on your build.

  7. Dirtnap says:

    About time you got that thing finished!!! Loving it, the attention to detail is sick, you guys need to see this bike in person to really appreciate it!

  8. bykerbrad says:

    Hans should like this one…I know I do! Great job man.

  9. Blackwidow says:

    Nice bike it looks awesome

  10. tadd442 says:

    I just do NOT tire of looking at it!….one of the best!

  11. Well done Joel. I really like how it came together.
    You got a good eye for detail!
    Enjoy the machine

  12. jSv says:

    This bike kicks so much ass it’s unreal. You nailed it, man. When can we expect a magazine feature?

  13. JD says:

    That bike is F’n awesome.

  14. kenb says:

    Like many have said nice machine! The vintage look and those bars work very nicely and the sniper box nice touch, yea if in your in the couve I would honk but no horn. Be Well, Ken

  15. Lang says:

    Thanks all – It’s awesome to put in so much work into a project and have it be appreciated. JSV, I’ll try for a mag spread – how cool would that be!

  16. Denis (fong bros) says:

    Well there goes my next bike. I had pretty much this setup in mind, but I guess not anymore. Beautiful work!

  17. Gearbanger says:

    Beautiful build there Lang…

    I’ve got my 3’rd. XS650 under construction as of now. As I looked at you’re video, I think I have your old tank sitting in my living room if that’s the one you sold on eBay. It will be going on bike #4.

    (Damn…these XS650’s are addictive)

  18. Lang says:

    Gearbanger – small world! Yup, I did sell that tank on ebay. It’s pretty distinctive with the custom gas spill design on it 🙂 I’ll be into seeing what you do with it.

    Denis, sorry man, if it’s any consolation, your cream xs kicks ass. I got to see it live at the Mid-Atlantic show.

  19. joel mekolites says:

    NICE! how does she handle with the rake in the neck? does she feel heavy in the front end

  20. Lang says:

    at a 36* rake, she handles well and turns quickly. I can do a much tighter u-turn than I do in the one vid (I discovered that my kickstand arm drags pretty easily – I’ll deal with that). IMO, anything under 38* will keep you flicking about fairly well.

  21. Capt_Zoom says:

    Awesome bike. I love the brass accents and the use of the sniper scope cases. What tank did you use? It looks perfect.

  22. Lang says:

    it’s a Detroit Bros Instigator tank, which is just a Wassel repop w/ bungs for 3/8″ petcocks and a harley gas cap.

  23. Finney says:

    Great Job on the bike !!! Were did you purchase the side covers to remove yamaha ? looks really good.

  24. Lang says:

    I belt sanded the yami off the right cover and I bought a plain cover from mikesxs for the left side.

  25. PJ says:

    How do you feel about thomas racing? We bought a rebuilt engine from them with the 750 conversion and am wondering if your satisfied with them. We still have to wire ours before we can drive it.

  26. Lang says:

    @PJ Yeah, overall very satisfied. The good: the engine runs great and has balls to spare and the vm34’s I got w/ the engine were tuned decently (I’m considering swapping the pilot one leaner, but it’s pretty close with just the needle up a notch and the mix screws out 1.75 turns). The bad: he stripped a couple bolt holes for the left side engine case, there is a small oil leak where the oil delivery pipe attaches to the head, he claims he runs every engine and tunes the carbs before it leaves, but neither my carbs nor my engine had ever been run when I got them; and he threw out my brand new Iridium plugs that I asked him to keep. On the balance, my complaints are pretty mild, I feel like I got what I paid for. Communication was ok – the guy is busy and doesn’t always answer the phone. How was your experience?

  27. PJ says:

    I never meet him but my father did(He actually drove from Virginia to Indiana with his trusty chihuahua to check out the shop before he bought it) and he said he did seem to be in a hurry. He was supposed to have one waiting for pickup but it wasn’t ready for another week(why I couldn’t go). He did run it for my father before he bought it. When we got it home we noticed one of the choke levers was broke and the the place the mechanical tach screwed in seemed to have issues. We have not been able to run or ride it yet.(Wiring and need a throttle cable still) but when I do ill let you know. So far all i can say is so so, but maybe that well change after I get it riding.

  28. WannaXS says:

    I F’ing love it!!! Thanks for sharing.

  29. dusty says:

    Hey Joel killer bike, killer pics! I just bought a donor (no title) for 40 bucks! motor is locked up. Im not trying to use your post as a forum but this seems to be the only place I can get any info from. I was wondering if i could use the frame on a build….dont know if #’s on frame have to match the title any input would be a big help thanks guys and keep choppin!!!

  30. Lang says:

    @dusty: frame vin number has to match the title. Older harleys use the vin off the engine, but not the yami’s. You can get a new title through Broadway title or ITS, but you might want to look for a different titled frame, it’d probably be easier and cheaper. I’d recommend The Chopper Underground as a forum to post this sort of thing.

  31. dusty says:

    thanks lang, really just bought this bike to kinda learn from. Its alot easier to see what must be done when your looking at one of these in person. The motor is junk so I can tear into it and look inside plus it was 40 BUCKS!! how could I not buy it. thanks again Lang and my search for a donor continues.

  32. Denis (fong bros) says:

    I noticed you were looking for a magazine spread. Try sending your pics and text to It’s an upstart mag with 2 issues so far, but all about handbuilt machines. Tell em the Fong Bros sent ya.

  33. Lang says:

    @Denis: great minds and all that – I know Rich from TCU and I had some fresh pics taken for him last month. Hopefully it’ll be in the 3rd issue!

  34. Mark says:

    Great bike! I like the brass/black combo. Was the front end completely redone for the rake increase or just “tweaked”. Would like to use that same stance on my future build. Thanks and great build dood.

  35. Lang says:

    @mark – as far as the stance, I didn’t have to do anything to the front end – they’re just stock length dt400 forks (which are essentially the same length as xs forks) w/ the 21″ wheel. I figured I’d have to lower them some but was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to.

  36. denengine says:

    yeah, really love this one! it’s got that nice line the british bikes usually have, instead of the xs frontal collision.
    i’m starting on a 72 xs2 any time soon and i was wondering where you got the hardtail section? is that really only 2″ stretch?

  37. Lang says:

    yup, just 2″. I really think 2″-3″ is the best stretch on these bikes. I’ve seen several kickass 0″ stretches as well. And I agree with your “frontal collision” comment, the xs’s really do well with a little bit of rake. Dirtnap over at the Chopper Underground did the hardtail and rake. He’s done a boatload of xs, so he really knows what he’s doing. He’s in Philadelphia where I’m at, but you can ship a frame via Greyhound bus for about $50 if you’re in the US but not local.

  38. sweet bike!

    what type of shock are you running for the seat?

  39. Lang says:

    it’s from chopper shox – if I hadn’t wanted the copper spring I probably would have gotten a west eagle. As long as the spring rate is decent (ie something under 300lbs) I don’t think it matters what brand you get. It rides really nicely – except for big bumps (b/c there’s less than an 1″ of travel) it rides as well as a sprung bike.

  40. REEB! says:

    Did u make lowside for sure?

  41. chevy53 says:

    well emma is a classie lady, nice bike

  42. Lang says:

    @REEB! I guess I won’t know for sure until issue 3 is out, but Rich told me he was definitely putting her in.

    Thanks chevy 🙂

  43. jrollo says:

    I thinks she is worth alot more that you gave up for her.

  44. shaydaddy says:

    Really dig your bike man. It has a real ww2 harley feel to it. I love the old military bikes that were turned into bobbers. Thats what started people chopping back in the day. I was wondering though how well do your electric bags hold up against moisture.

  45. Lang says:

    we’ll see – she hasn’t been thoroughly soaked yet – but the bags themselves are waterproofed and all the components inside are weatherproof. I figure they’ll hold up better in a down pour than the pod filters will.

  46. Ian Summers says:

    I absolutely love everything about this bike. Gorgeous.

  47. Steve says:

    Very nice build .

  48. Mason says:

    Classic design and engineering. The bike is amazing. If you ever put it up for sale let me know.

  49. bloodhound says:

    I still like that bike.

  50. ChrisB says:

    This bike looks like it’s ridden by an arch-villain. Luv it.

  51. Shawn Dennis says:

    is this emma from the video “Emma’s first ride” if so se is a real beaut.
    great job….

  52. Brandon says:

    What amount of drop is in the hard tail? I know you said it was a +2″ stretch but how much drop was built in?

  53. Lang says:

    Thanks Shawn – it is the same bike, she’s just painted now 🙂 The kids at my local vo tech school agreed to paint it – they did a great job, and just charged me materials.

    Brandon, I think what you’re ultimately asking is what’s the ride height – it’s a little over 5″. I don’t know what a stock yami has.

  54. Dale says:

    Lang; The guy that did your hardtail is he out of Fishtown? If so, what the hell happened to him??? I was in touch with him to build mine and poof! nothing… Sucks big time, I liked his work, liked the fact that he shipped on Greyhound, to save his customers a bundle on shipping. Had to go another route because of the lack of contact on his part. If it isn’t the dude you need to check this out (his sites even down except for the photo gallery):

  55. Lang says:

    yeah, that’s him. Life caused him to shut down shop. Sucked big time. I got to buy his mig welder and drill press though.

  56. Dale says:

    Damn! That just blows, I really liked his work. Well at least some good came out of it. Thanks for the info. Nice ride she looks great.

  57. fanoboss says:

    Love your bike, the bars take on a different character when looked at from the rear, very artsy. I like Artsy.

  58. Whisperingeye says:

    Where or what kind of mid controls do you have

  59. Lang says:

    G&L Choppers made the mids for me

  60. scott says:

    very nice. just right IMO. great subtle design touches throughout but nothing overboard. i’d love to know what u have in it if u don’t mind sharing?? i’m on my second bobber build and am amazed at what it’s costing to turn one out! and

  61. DaveO says:

    Lang….can you tell me where you got the brass kick pedal…or did G&L customize it for you?….Great Bike!

  62. Lang says:

    Thanks! G&L made the pedal along with the rest of the pegs and then I ground down and threaded the original pedal on the kicker arm so the new pedal could be screwed onto it.

  63. DaveO says:

    Thanks for getting back to me…I should have pics of my xs soon!

  64. norm younger says:

    nice bike. its got a cool classic triumph vibe to it but yet very unique.

  65. Thomas says:

    Dirtnap hardtailed a bike for me about 2 years ago, I’m looking to get another one done but can’t find his number, do you know if he is still hardtailing and how I can get in touch with him?

  66. Lang says:

    Sadly, he closed up shop and sold most of his equipment.

  67. m7ke says:

    this is exactly what i want to build.. hardtail badass but with class and style !

    so, i read that dirtnap doesnt do this anymore, but i was wondering what weld on he used, or did he make it from scratch ?

    any more details on the seat ?

    and details on the handlebars – those are awesome ! would you be willing to give specifics on length, radius’s,etc?

    I’m gettig a pile of parts from two xs650’s and I need to start fabrication soon.


  68. Jason says:

    Been hauling a 77 basket case around for years. Just started on it, and hope it turns out half as nice as yours.

  69. Ингвар says:

    хорошая тема получилась. мне понравилось.

  70. tadd442 says:

    still one of my fav’s…..

  71. buster says:

    Satan rides one just like this one!

  72. Emeraldcopnj says:

    Nice job !! I am in the middle of a build of my 1977 also. What did you use for the headlight bucket/brackets?? ( I searched the one you mentioned here and was not able to get any hits) What speedo did you use? I like that look ! Thanks !