Kevin Jakubczak – Life for me started out as a fairly clean stock blue 1974 xs650. The previous owner had laid it down at one point with his wife on the back of the bike, so he decided it would probably be best to sell it. Luck would have it, I found it listed in the local classifieds, so I decided to drive up the mountain to go have a look. I wasn’t expecting much, and quite honestly I thought the guy would flake on me. It was a very wet, foggy day. Took me three hours to get up the hill and to locate his house, but my aggravation was alleviated as soon as I pulled up to his driveway and laid my eyes upon it. Freezing cold, snot running from my nose, I asked to hear her run. The owner obliged, went inside his work shop and grabbed the key. With a quick turn of the key she shook to life. I was ecstatic. $800 later it was mine.
My first bike. My first project.
I have always loved early motorcycles, especially the old board track bikes, so as one may guess, I modeled mine after them. I didn’t want it to look like something it’s not, but I knew going into it just how I envisioned the final build to look. I wanted to run 21″ rims both front and rear. I wanted a thin narrow bike, something completely different from all the other bikes I see in my area. I wanted a mix of shiny and raw. Hand made imperfections that I admire the most on any build. After the CHP inspection and a trip to the DMV, I started to strip her apart.
This being my first project, it took me much longer than expected. Not having electricity in my shop due to a permit battle with the city doesn’t help matters. So my good friend’s garage was to become her new home for a while. Carefully studying and researching other people’s builds, I found myself immersed within forum posts and pictures for months on end. To keep the electronics, or to ditch them. To keep the points, or ditch them… the list went on and on. In the end I wound up swapping everything over to a PMA/Pamco and small battery pack. I knew from the get-go I wanted this bike to be as minimal as I could possibly make it. No blinkers, no starter, just kick and go.
There were many firsts for me with this build. Learning to re-locate petcocks on the gas tank and pressure checking for leaks. Hand shaping the seat pan to learning how to hand sew my leather work. Prepping the tins and painting from start to finish. Drilling the rotor and fabricating many parts to get this thing rolling. Over eight months had already passed and I was still not done with the bike. It was put on the back burner many times during the course of the build, but roughly a year later I finally took it for a shake down run around the block. You could not wipe the smile from my face.
It’s not perfect by any means. I still have electrical gremlins to contend with, so I can’t ride at night… or enjoy to anyways. I am still perfecting the jetting/gearing ratio. It could use an engine rebuild, but for now I am enjoying it. I have many parts I am still working on fabricating for the bike so I can remove a lot of the stock parts. I am also building a small forge, so soon enough I will be able to cast for myself and for any future projects. The bike currently runs Avon Speedmaster both front and rear.
New lathe tools are also in the works, and a second bike already in progress- my ’78 Shovel, and in the near future, my father’s old 1969 CB750 (non sand cast). My father decided to quit riding when I was a child and parked this bike in our garage around 1985. So there it sat, years and years of rust accumulation and neglect, almost making its way to a salvage yard at one point, but it will live again.
Until next time….