After having a week or two to trip over the motorbike in the garage (it was even used as a step ladder at one point to put up some better lighting), it was about time I thought about what I want to do with the bike…(no comments about burning it please).

Key objectives are to get the bike running – there is little point in spending time and money on the project only to be disappointed when it doesn’t turn over. Imagine the irritation of meticulously putting together the freshly painted bike only to have to strip it down again….much easier when it’s a piece of shi…rough around the edges.


For those of you less technically savvy folk (myself included!), the obvious things to look for are whether the engine will turn over, the tank is in good condition, any hoses are perished and whether the parts that are meant to move i.e. wheels, throttle cables  are free and moving.

A quick once over showed that the bikes engine had seized with sitting for so long. The bike had recently been rebuilt and hadn’t put many miles on since the rebuild prior to it getting laid up. A quick analysis showed this was an engine issue and not the bike being stuck in gear, confirmed by the bike moving freely in neutral.

Loosening the engine was next. This involved taking the spark plugs out. Try to get a spark plug wrench if you can. The spark plugs can be awkward to get to depending on the engine set up so the better fit and leverage you can get on the plugs; the less likely you are to damage the plugs. A quick spray of WD40, oil and releasing agent down into the  cyclinders was left sitting  for half an hour. The next task was to try turning the engine by using the kick starter. Slowly using the kick-starter by hand meant excessive force was not applied to the engine, crucial in case it was still seized.

Success, we got the pistons moving!

Spark plugs out – release agent in!

I now have to get the engine running. To do this, I want to open the fuel tank and check its innards to make sure it’s not corroded to buggery….problem being, I bought the bike without any keys….woops… Sourcing keys initially looked like it would be a costly, time consuming event. I thought I was going to have to change all the locks on the bike, which include the ignition, fuel tank cap and helmet/seat lock. Luckily further googling showed that a man in England can cut me a key as long as I have the code on the lock and don’t ask too many questions…now…if I fancied the very nice 1980’s Ducati that resides down the road and was able to have a 10 second look at the bike, I would be able to get this code…worryingly (or not) all I had to give was a code and a tenner and a new shiny key was on its way….I still may end up with that Ducati…The (Yamaha) key arrives tomorrow so will follow up with whether it worked or not in the next post…

The assessment continued looking over the rest of the bike, the below images show that it is fairly tired looking, but reassuringly, it’s solid. The hand controls will need replaced, the brakes and front shocks will need rebuilt and the rear shocks may get a tasty upgrade. Some of the parts unlikely to make the cut include: Headlight, front and rear mudguards (although some of them are salvageable), spark plug leads & caps, seat and rear tail tidy (as it looks dog shit).

Something I don’t have a lot of faith in is the condition of the electrics…electrical gremlins can kill a motorcycle. A lot of parts will be getting a good look over or binned.  Luckily there are a lot of guides and information on the motorcycles electrical loom and how it’s wired up.  I am weary to spend too much time just now looking over the electrics, as I hope to change/simplify/change out a lot of the tired corroded components.

With buying an old bike that has been sat for a number of years, the elements have not been as kind as they could to some of the nuts, bolts and other gubbins….my new favourite dismantling friends below have been a great help for soaking and releasing some of the rusted bolts so far. Inevitably there will fastenings which just need cut/drilled/heated/sworn at until they loosen. Combine this with the fact there is a lot which will not make their way back onto the bike, I am not too concerned about broken bolts. I will follow up in another blog post specifically what I plan to do with replacing fastenings and where to source.


My new best friends…

Whats next?

Once my key arrives, this week will be spent getting the bike running so expect some detail and hopefully a video soon! Stripping the bike down will be the next big ticket item after I have it running. I have already started to dismantle a few of the parts that play no part at all on the functionality of getting the engine running i.e. rear mud guard, mirrors.

The look 

The majority of my inspiration comes from looking at other, much more skilled builders on the likes of instagram, bikeefixthebikeshed etc. all of those websites are a great resource for a high level overview of the bikers build.

I find there are lots of features I instantly like when I see a custom build, but to create my own I had to go further with the thought process. What specifically do I like on a certain build and why? The things I like to see – simplistic minimal builds, clean lines and dark colours with bright colour accents.

Why do I like that look? Who knows….I am still asking the question….I will get you an answer in due course… regardless of the features I like or don’t ,  I think the ability for a bike builder to put their creativity into a build that ultimately reflects their personality and individuality is one of the most interesting aspects of these projects.

The picture board below shows a few of the XS750’s I am currently using for inspiration. These show what can be done with my bike. I love the minimal look of the builds; they have removed the battery housing and airbox and replaced with stylish K&N filters. The seats are slimmed down and the frames de-lugged, painted and modified to suit the new seat. If I ended up with a bike in a similar theme to this, I wouldn’t be disappointed….hell I may even sell the Harley!

I will try to create a render to show what I am looking to achieve (please don’t judge me by my paint skills…) but I think my tank paint and seat colour are chosen…for now.

My past few cars have been dark grey, and my most current one has a stark contrast of red leather. I love the way the red leather stands out against the dark body work. I don’t recollect seeing many, if any, bikes with a bright leather seat…In contrast the tank colour I quite fancy is frozen grey. This colour was release a few years ago on the mighty E92 V8 M3 – I personally think matt colours are overdone on cars….but, dear god that BMW looks good. I think the matt really shows off the body creases and I will get a similar effect with the scallops on the side of the XS’s tank.

I also want to paint the engine, so keep your eyes peeled for a full guide on how ruin an XS750 engine with paint contamination in a few posts time…

Thanks for reading, to be continued…