The Illegal Immigrant


I didn’t want to put this up until it was finished and after the second version, I think it’s done now other than a few minor details.  Your site was so helpful for ideas and techniques that it wouldn’t be right to not give back a little.

I’ll put all the details I can because those details from everyone else are what helped me so much.  It was my first ever bike build, but I have a fair amount of experience with classic cars and hot rods and I had access to a MIG welder. My bike started as a 100% stock ’79 special that I picked up for $600.


It has a TC Bros hardtail, stock special mag wheels, stock motor except for pamco ignition, rebuilt/rejetted carbs, pod filters, new coil, plugs (autolite 63’s are lifesavers), and shorty pipes that are damn loud.  The front forks were lowered a few inches thanks to the perfectly crafted tech article on this site.

The seat is a vinyl job with 3″ springs that work very well.  My first version of the bike had the original rear springs/shocks and a fixed seat and the hardtail ride is WAY SMOOTHER than expected.  Tailights are from my first car, a ’56 Chevy pickup.


I used the radio shack rectifier/automotive regulator setup that you’ve probably seen.  Bars are TC Bros drags.  The grips were like 5 bucks on ebay and they are super.  Headlight is from Demon’s cycle.  Front and rear brakes are stock special discs. Gas tank is a sportster piece and I know people complain about everyone using them, but I have yet to see a tank I like on xs’s more than those.


The hardest part about building the bike was having to wire the turn signals, brake lights, and running lights all into the tailights I used.  I just can’t stand a tailight on only one side and I wanted to use the old lights I had laying around.  It was cheap, but took a lot of research to figure out and it added a lot of wiring.  As for color, the entire bike is powercoated.  I wanted a durable finish and it was probably cheaper than paint.


Pictures will never be able to show how good a 3-stage translucent powder looks in the sun. Its space invader silver underneath 2 coats of translucent OSU orange. Once again, thanks for the site and everyone who contributes to it.  I hope my post helps someone out there.

If you have any questions, ask away.  I have saved all my diagrams, receipts, etc.  And don’t be surprised if the bike ends up for sale.

I’m ready to build another one.



  1. Barney says:

    Nice bike. I’m also doing translucent powdercoat in a red with metalflake. The spokes i had painted turned out pretty cool so I can’t wait to get the rest of it done. I’m also doing the sportster tank. If i had a second choice, i think i would go with the dished tank. Your mirror seems a little square but other than that, great job!

  2. Sean from boston says:

    I like the bike a lot and for a first build it’s great! Very clean I love the tail lights I think they were worth the effort only thing I don’t like Is the color, don’t get me wrong it looks great but when I see bikes I think of me on them lol and well the color clashes with my red hair and sun burns haha great bike man!

  3. Chris says:

    Great job…how much did you lower the front forks…My bike has a TC Bro hardtail and I’m running a front tire 21 and rear tire 16 and the bike sits nice and level. I want to lower my front forks but the front frame will sit lower making the bike sit uneven I would assume…Does your bike sit uneven? anybody have any ideas?

  4. Mikey G says:

    Great job Matt. I agree with you about the Sporty tank, I think they look the best on these bikes too. I know lots of people say that it’s overdone, but hey, that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla, right? I also love the translucent powder coat paint job. I’m powder coating my bike frame, (YamChop, posted just before you on this site) and I was wondering how much and what kind of prep you did to the metal prior to spraying it. I want the same sweet results as you got. Also, did you do any internal wiring at all? I’m looking for tips on pulling wire thru the frame. Anyway, AWSOME first build!!

    Mikey G.

  5. Brett says:

    Love it! Can you tell us more about how you mounted the foot pegs?

  6. fanoboss says:

    I dig it !!! Looks similar in stance to mine…I bet the color definitely looks better in direct sunlight, it doesn’t look bad here btw.

  7. patrix says:

    WOW…there is so much life in that color…..very nice work!! IT DEMANDS attention !

  8. tadd442 says:

    Great build….remember the sporty tanks are popular because they look good.

  9. fanoboss says:

    I would never run another tank…SPORTY TANKS RULE !!!

  10. fanoboss says:


  11. joe speedboat says:

    Great job! Very clean bike. Just one minor point, I don’t like the fender having a too big radius. It should hug the tire all the way. But a nice bike!

  12. Matt says:

    Thanks for all the comments! You guys sure are thorough. I’ll try to answer all the questions…
    1. Mirror is definitely square. Original mirror, currently looking for another.
    2. Front forks were lowered approximately 2 inches. It’s real easy to do. Follow
    the tech article on this site. Mine sits perhaps a little nose low, but better than
    the other way around.
    3. I did not do any internal wiring. The look is great when it’s done, but for me
    personally, it’s not worth the hassle and having holes in your frame. You have to
    be careful with protecting the wires too because they can definitely rub through
    the insulation and cause a short. Had it happen on my hot rod.
    4. Top Dog powdercoating in Omaha did the powder work. They glass bead blasted
    everything before spraying. They also burned off old paint from the tank and
    frame first, then blasted, then sprayed. All the orange parts were done by “hot
    spraying” which means the parts were heated to 200 degrees before powder
    application. It makes it stick more uniformly and prevents runs, so they say.
    5. The footpegs were kind of a weird mount. I welded a 3/4″ socket to a 2-3 inch
    piece of tube to the rear lower motor mount on each side. Then I cut the original
    foot peg arm after getting my placement right and welded a 3/4″ nut to the end of
    the arm. Slid the nut into the socket at the appropriate rotation, and then ran a
    threaded rod all the way through with two nylocks on either side. Hope that
    makes sense…It’s all powdercoated orange in the pictures and all the peg parts
    used were from the stock bike.
    6. Good eye to joe speedboat on the fender radius. I had a heck of a time finding a
    fender with the perfect radius, so I went a little bigger. It definitely made
    mounting easier, but I agree that a perfectly radiused fender has a better look.
    Personally, I like em better without a fender at all, but I got sick of having water
    and mud all over my back.

  13. Catfish says:

    Did you paint the lower jug on the motor? If so, What did you use and is that okay to do on that part of the motor if the bike is going to be used for serious running all over the country… Heat issues…?

    I like the way you cut the chain guard off the alternator cover. I did the same thing to the one I’m building and I feel it just looks better.

  14. Matt says:

    Hey Catfish, I did not do any painting to the motor. As it sits is the way I bought it. I have had no heat issues so far. I agree with you on the chain guard. Easy task, well worth it.

  15. vern sowers says:

    great frist build i cant wate till i do my frist build im looking for the bike now and im saving your picks so i can go yours for the looks i was looking for a bsa till i price a few then i dag the thought of the then i had the thought about the xs650 because they looked a like never realzing how many people had the idea befor me lol but its all good because this is a great site to be able to fall back on for ideas lol ok well anyway great build love everything about the bke and i think ya schould keep it

  16. Chad says:

    Any chance you could post up or email me the wiring diagram for the tail lights? I am a wiring newb and want to rewire my 650 soon and I really like the two tail lights on your bike. I wanted turns on the rear anyways so this seems like a great idea and project. Thanks.

  17. Chad says: