Yamaha XS650 ‘Mustang’

An XS650 / Mustang hybrid

Martin called me in regards to his Yamaha XS650 wanting to change it and make it more unique. He explained that the bike was previously built by Deus but was in need of a face lift. Martin rode 3 hours to deliver the bike with no real specific idea on what he wanted except for more of a tracker look, with longer rear shocks and a rear cowling. He then left everything up to me.

I had always wanted to build something based of a 1968 Mustang, and after searching online I came across the housings for a 1968 Mustang tail light. I sent a picture to Martin, with the idea of building a rear cowling around the Mustang tail lights. He replied with “Let’s make it happen!”

From this point the tail lights and housing were ordered, and while waiting on the parts I did a rewire of the bike, fitting mini switches into the clip on handlebars, rewiring the ignition system, moving the headlight switch to the back of the headlight – and now it was time to start designing the rear cowling.

Once the lights arrived I realised they were taller than expected, which was going to cause an issue because if they stood tall the cowling would be too high and not match the lines of the tank.But if they laid back too much, they wouldn’t be visible to any cars following. A lot of time was spent working on angles to get everything lined up just right.

I wanted to design the cowling to match the shape of the Mustang rear end as best as I could, to be like a shrunken version. They had to be visible, but also recessed like the car. After days of designing, scrapping and redesigning, making cardboard templates, everything finally fell into place.

The cowling was made from 1mm mild steel sheet metal. Once the cowling was made, a candy red colour had to be custom made to match the existing paint. The next step was to design custom decals to match the existing decals on the tank but also allude to the decals seen on a 1968 Mustang. Next I had to design my own lighting stop tail to go inside the cowling. From this point I had to design and make a rear number plate holder which  floats over the rear wheel, so the cowling could be removed if needed, separate to the number plate.

A 3mm aluminium seat pan was bent up, fitted with nut serts, foam laid on top, then a black vinyl with white diamond stitch cover was made and fitted to create a seat.

The rear cowling was sent to paint for it’s last coat of clear over the decals, new tyres were fitted, and taller new rear shocks were fitted. The bike was now complete for stage 1 and ready to be collected, until it’s time for stage 2 when it will be getting new spoked wheels.