650 - out of storage after 4 years

I still remember the day my bike stopped working... I was driving from Indianapolis to Terre Haute after my junior year internship was over. The bike started stuttering. It was leaking oil. All of a sudden it stopped. I started it again, got another 100 feet, then it stopped again. I called a friend for a ride and had to leave my motorcycle there on the side of the road until I could get back there with a trailer.

In the time it took me to get back there to pick up the bike, someone had seen it on the side of the road and left me a hand written note offering to buy the bike. I am just glad they didn't just steal it.

I was not new to working on the bike. After all,I had already rebuilt the engine once.  Once I started tearing things apart I realized that my ignition pickups had melted to my stator. I am still not sure exactly how that happened. I needed a new ignition so I opted for a Boyer digital ignition system. This was a pretty penny, especially for a college student, so it took me a little while to get the money together. I installed the ignition system and.... nothing. The bike still wouldn't start. I couldnt figure it out. The bike sat in my garage the rest of the year, collecting dust.

When I graduated college I moved several states away. Even though the 650 had not worked now for about 9 months, I couldnt let it go. I had it moved to my new apartment out on the east coast. Once I got all settled in at my new place, I set about fixing the 650. Before my bike stopped working it had a few issues:

  • There was a horrible rattling coming from the engine case due to a worn crank bearing
  • The engine leaked oil due to the bottom end case halves being slightly warped
  • The side engine cover was cracked and leaked oil
  • The stator was out of spec

To me all these issues lead to one simple conclusion.... get rid of the bike? No that is what a normal person would say. No, I knew I needed a donor engine. I did some searching and found a place only 2 hours away that sold used 650 engines for $100! What a steal!

When I drove up there I was blown away to find about 20 used xs650 engines sitting on the floor. I found a couple that were the right year. Only one of them had a stator that was within spec... that was the one for me.

I got home, tore apart the donor engine, and set about combining parts from the two engines to make one that worked.

Long story short, the engine didn't work. I couldn't figure out what was keeping it from turning over. By this point, I moved out of my apartment and into a house. The 650 took up residence in the corner of my garage. There it stayed for 4 years, waiting for me to get around to fixing it.

As time went buy I felt more and more guilty that it was just sitting there wasting away. I just couldn't find the time or motivation to work on the 650 when I had so many other vehicles that required attention also, but were at least running still.

That was until May of 09. I finally decided to do something about the 650. I took the motorcycle cover of and was dismayed at what I saw.

The last 4 years had been tough on the 650. The garage takes turns as a woodworking shop and mechanics shop. The 650 was covered in saw dust and years of neglect. The rear tire was flat and permanantly warped from sitting too long.

  • The front brake caliper was dangling... I dont even remember why
  • The rear brake didn't work (a drum brake no less, its just springs and a lever, what the heck)
  • Both front turn signals were broken off.
  • The battery was bone dry and completely shot
  • The engine wouldnt not turn over even with the kick starter
  • and to top it all off... I couldn't find my key.

All in all the bike was in bad shape. The bike had not run for nearly 6 years and it showed. I should elaborate on the key situation. I could not find my original key. I did find a cheapo spare key I had made. The key is made out of tin foil but its enough to turn the ignition on. Unforutnately its not enough to open the gas cap. Doh!

How could I let the bike come to this.

As you can see from the pics the bike was filthy. My motivation for working on the bike comes in spurts. During this spurt, I got the bike cleaned up and started doing more research on the most pressing problem, why won't the engine turn over. The pistons can't be siezed so what is it. Stay tuned for more on that.


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donor engine had nasty corroded engine case, but at least it was not cracked
i dont even remember why this not attached
i also dont remember the tack face plate screws being loose

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