Low, Down, & Shifty XS650


Kurt – She was a mess of a machine; 350 lbs of heroin chic executed in cro-moly tube and hand-formed aluminum sheet. Her tremendously overbuilt Yamaha® 650 parallel twin, now sporting 750cc of displacement and grossly optimistic cams, stood proud within her handcrafted perimeter frame. Dual Mikuni’s vaporized the dwindling petrol supplies as fed to them by a trio of daisy-chained Pingle petcocks. Agreed, it wasn’t a pretty arrangement, but these weren’t pretty times.



This bleached earth, with its sun-cracked asphalt veins and disintegrating infrastructure, had taken a brutal toll on most forms of motorized transport. Those that remained were an odd balance of necessity versus availability. Shifty was one of these. Sporting few creature comforts – oblique ergonomics, kidney-rupturing suspension, limited lighting and almost no fuel range – she existed on the fringes of a broken society. Low, Down, & Shifty was nothing this new world needed but everything it deserved.


Q – How does it ride? 

A – The ride is pretty much what it looks like it would be – brutal. The ergonomics require some serious stretching prior to riding and the you have to be very careful when upshifting as your toes are hovering scant inches above the tarmac. Those may not be ideal qualities for most bikes, but they fit Low, Down, & Shifty’s personality perfectly. Riding her is like humping a garage built cruise missile – a very loud cruise missile.
Q – How long did it take to build?
A – I drew the initial concepts for Shifty while on a business trip in Shanghai in 2006. I’ve always been a fan of the initial Zero Chopper gooseneck style bikes. The goal was to blend that geometry with a perimeter frame, modern sport bike componentry, and a compact unit motor. The donor XS was secured out of a Wisconsin barn and shipped out to the ICON garage in Portland. From there it was lots of cutting, bending, welding, trial, and (many) errors. It was my first attempt at a complete build including the frame. Many painful and expensive lessons were learned along the way, but I absolutely loved the process.
Q – Interesting facts or details?
A – The exhaust tips where salvaged from the original MotoCzysz GP bike and are as obnoxious as they are cool. The gas tank/seat is all hand fabricated aluminum housing two separate fuel compartments. Virgin Mary paint job is actually an oil painting but Tanner Goldbeck, applied directly to the tank and then clear coated. Battery and electronics are located behind the chin spoiler/gut shovel. The front end is from a Suzuki Hayabusa and the wheels are forged aluminum units from Galespeed Japan.
Q – Is the engine rebuilt?
A – The motor got a complete overhaul by a local XS motor guru. It’s bored out to a 750, cams, porting & polishing, etc. Honestly, it’s more motor than this bike can use. Eventually, I’d like to swap it into a flat track frame where it could truly shine.

Kurt Walter


  1. usp222 says:

    Wow! This bike is pretty damn sick. Totally original!

  2. mookie says:

    the only part of this that makes sense is the bit about putting the engine in another chassis…
    wretched excess indeed.

  3. DENNI$ says:

    yo yo yo motopsycho!! all I can say is ‘wow!!’ love the writeup, i really wanna finish that book, or movie, or CD, maybe??? tires look badass, total whackjob, love to walk around it so i can look real close. amazing concept, a jaw dropper.

  4. CruzBoos says:

    Finally!!! Something totally different and outside the norm. The bitch looks like she’ll smoke anyone who tries to push her outside of her comfort zone and I bet that she’ll bite back at the first opportunity. Put Jason on her and lets see what happens.

  5. ICON says:

    Hey Denni$ – if you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes take the red pill and head over to;




    Trust us, the rabbit hole goes very deep indeed.

  6. Previously employed writer for the J. Peterman catalog? (Seinfeld) Entertaining, nice to have Q and A’ed yourself. Q, Johnny,,,, do you like this bike. A, Yes,,, Yes I do. Looked at your facebook page. Well done logo. Fashion that could be from the game, Killzone. The female models are all pouty because all the malls are blown up. Do they make guns that weigh the same as a curling iron? Fair is fair, I made my own ‘Boba Fett’ costume and metal cladded leathers. Refreshing style change for the 650.

  7. DENNI$ says:

    Hey, I checked out yer site; very amusing!! I wish the world would crash tomorrow! LOLOL! Oh, well, back to the J-O-B………

  8. DENNI$ says:

    Buy the way, what brand of skins are those? thanks.

  9. ICON says:

    Continental Rain Slicks

  10. Deweychop says:

    When I first looked at it, I didn’t like it. Then the more I disected it, the more I liked it. Now I think it’s pretty sweet. Very innovative and creative. Well done!!

  11. mark says:

    Hell Ya!!

    No offense but I have seen enough sporties on TC’s….

    Way out side the box, luv it!!

  12. pickles says:

    Great write-up, and even better build. This thing looks effin crazy! Killer work!

  13. turdherder says:

    Looks like it should be in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome! Not saying that’s a bad thing, and your quality of work looks nice.

  14. fanoboss says:

    As an owner of a XS650 w/TC Bros. hardtail with a sporty tank I can’t fully agree with you Mark. One thing we may agree on is that this is a TOP 20 bike.

  15. RJ from the ole school says:

    I have ridden for decades,,,been to bookoo bike events,,,never seen anything like this one,,,I’m amazed at all you’ve done ,,,,I especially like the CAT CATCHER scoop and all the trick hose work,,,would love to have that engine on my ride,,,,,keep building!

  16. mark says:

    Fanoboss, Certain common themes can be collected from many of these bikes, ( I built one too). I like many of them but custom is a bit of a loose word when many are very similar. As we both agree, this bike break a lot of new ground…..

  17. El Gaucho says:

    OK, now you got my attention……….Very fierce and original. Sad to hear the ergonomics suck. Looks like a fun toy to wind through the backroads. A hardtail with slicks…….that’s a new one.

  18. matt dunn says:

    i saw this a while ago, killer bike! i think if the ass end, and the goose neck were both a bit shorter it might be more rideable without loosing the look. i love seeing this kind of concept bikes/cars/anything.. could be used in a movie, dude riding it better be pretty bad ass!

  19. Amanda Sundvor says:

    I live in Portland too. Who is this XS motor guru you speak of?

  20. Joshua says:

    Holy Rat shit Batman!!!! That is

  21. Joshua says:


  22. DEMON DAVE says:

    badass , perfect thinking outside the box