No man is an island - First-time builder and his XS650.

[nggallery id=52] In a world littered with moto blogs and endless streams of sexy bikes, sometimes we lose sight of the inspiring tales behind them. I was reminded of that when I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Eddie Chavez and his exquisite XS650. You may have seen this custom Yamaha featured as a Dime City Cycle’s “Motorcycle Pic of the Week”. Eddie told me when he set out, all he wanted was “something different, not too fancy, clean, simple, with nice lines and no clutter.” I am fortunate to work in an industry where I look at fantastic motorcycles every day. What sets most builds apart, and what tends to be missing from those blogs, are the people and the HEART behind each of these builds. I’d like you to meet Eddie Chavez, first-time builder...

Since I began working for a motorcycle magazine, I can tell you I haven’t quite met someone like Eddie. He’s a humble, big hearted guy who loves life, his family and refers to his friends in the moto community as his “brothers”. He’s a role model for everyone that dreams about doing a garage build - but puts it off - thinking they do not have enough money or time. Eddie socked away a grand total of $1200 for this build and began on Craiglist like many of us. Soon, a 1973 TX650 caught his eye.

Of course, for kind-hearted folk, pity often gets the best of us. As Eddie says, “this thing would not go past 55 mph going downhill”. No surprise, the bike ran poorly. But builders often carry the ability to see what others can not. Before laying out the cash, Eddie did his homework and built his confidence, as the word on the street was that these suckers were bullet proof. XS650 gurus appeared and told him about how great the ‘73 engine and its original cam were, but insisted he go with a later year model, better suited for the type of riding he had in mind. Eddie’s vision was a fast motorbike, able to handle turns better than the stock model. He wasn’t expecting modern handling or speed, but wanted it to handle like a ‘73 never could. Feeling challenged, Eddie forked over the cash, deciding to integrate some of those better handling traits to the bike’s earlier year frame.

At the same time, Eddie had caught site of one of Dime City Cycle’s first CB450 builds. When he saw the rear cowl resting above the frame which had a bit of a kick at the back, he knew he wanted that look for this bike. Being a family man however, meant practical thinking. Eddie could see there would be a time for a solo flight on his new creation, and a time to put his son in the saddle with him. After modification and recreating the rear hoop part of the frame, he was able to build a two-up brat style seat which can be removed in less than three minutes by simply loosening some winged nuts beneath it.

“My idea was to build a fiberglass seat reminiscent to DCC’s but have it be fully removable so I could swap seats easily if I was riding with someone else. I wanted it to be convenient, even if the bike was not made for long trips.”

Eddie says that building this bike has been a great outlet for him. Although she is not finished yet (are they ever?), Eddie is happy with the results of his wrenching efforts thus far. More important to him, however, are the many irreplaceable connections and great friends that he’s made during the past two years. As we talked, Eddie spoke often of the impact DO THE TON has has had on his builder experience. Eddie said, “DTT is more than an online forum…not exclusive to a particular brand of motorbike or people for that matter. There are various ages and classes, and we all relate to one another. It’s not a club you join; it’s the people you become a part of. Some come and go, some take, others give. However, there is a core group, who go beyond the forum walls, who not only share their knowledge or tools, but open their homes and hearts. They make DTT an open house for those who want to be a part of it.”

This hit home more than ever after an unfortunate wreck last fall. As luck would have it, while enroute to Barber Vintage Fest in Alabama, Eddie and his bike were involved in an accident in Deals Gap. Sore, banged up and feeling really bummed out that his bike was trashed to the point of being unrideable, Eddie still decided to attend, assuming he would be riding in his truck while everyone else rode bikes. A short while after arriving, Eddie was in amazement as DTT members and moto friends came together - contributing resources, parts, labor and love to help him get his bike riding again.

Eddie asked us to to give special thanks to the boys at Dime City Cycles, DotheTon, and Johann Keyser from MotoMotivo for their guidance and friendship along the way. He also wants us to remind all garage builders that you too can build cool machines regardless of your situation. Eddie pieced it together in a small shed in his backyard with little funds or knowledge and the support of new found friends.

Highlights:

  • Avon Roadrider tires 130/80-18 rear and 100/90-19 on front
  • A pair of Mikuni Round Slide VM34 carburetors
  • Modified (braced) Swing Arm
  • Custom made rear cowl and upholstery
  • A ‘78 XS750 gas tank
  • A Danmoto Hall Sensor Speed/Tach gauge combo and custom bracket I build for it
  • ‘72 CB350 headlamp
  • Clip-ons
  • Rear sets made by a local fellow in NC and DDT member Durgam_K
  • Stock motor with upper end rebuilt, cylinders bored 40 over, and new clutch
  • Front brake rotor drilled by me with a press
  • Custom battery box made by me with Shorai battery
  • Lots of bloody knuckles, sweat, ruined shirts and pants
  • Lots of new friends
  • Lots of heart

You can see what Eddie had to work with by following the DTT thread here.