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1982 Yamaha XS650 – Stout 33

Posted on August 1, 2012 by Scott in Bobber. 28 comments

Like most brothers, the Chappell Brothers have different tastes. Rob prefers to live in Ontario, Canada while Chris chooses to live in Los Angeles. Their taste in bikes is different as well. Rob’s style leans more towards racing and café racers while Chris loves bobbers and choppers. So when they decided to build their latest project they chose (after much debate) to build a bike in the middle – a board track influenced bike that would have a custom frame, traditional girder front end and tall skinny wheels. If time allowed they would also tackle their first custom gas tank! (which they did). They found the perfect donor bike in the form of a 1982 XS650 Heritage Special and got to work on this project that was really going to challenge these part time bike builders.

Over to the brothers to describe their ambitious project: “One of the factors regarding timing on this build was that Chris was due to be a first time father right in the middle of it, so the scramble was on to cut the original frame, plan the new design, and get as far along as possible until garage time would be cut drastically. Before cutting into the frame Chris built a frame jig and engine jig to mimick the stock angles of the original XS in terms of headstock angle, engine position and wheel base. He began cutting away the stock frame being sure to keep the original headstock so the bike could still be registered. “We believe the final bike should always be as rideable as it is cool looking, not just a display piece” says Chris, so with that in mind a few photos were sent over to Rob and he whipped up some photoshop mock-ups of potential frame layouts. A selection was made and the tube bending commenced.

In order to get the stance just right they went with two XS 19” front wheels Chris drilled holes in the wheel spokes for some added flare, then used an aftermarket front wheel conversion kit to fit it on the rear of the bike. On the front they used a Harley style girder front end and had to modify the headstock for fitment, wheel bearings were sourced, and front wheel spacers were machined by Chris to fit the XS wheel to the girder.  The seat design was going to be tricky because “we wanted to create the illusion that the seat is floating in mid air where the frame ended,” says Rob. They figured out with some paper mock-ups the design and the seat brackets were plasma cut and mounting points added to the frame. After looking at the completed frame and a lot of photos of old board trackers they decided that aftermarket gas tanks just wouldn’t cut it, so the fabrication began on a custom tank that would fit the frames lines.

A custom leather seat cover was created by their friend Luis over at Luis leather stuff showing the traditional 33 logo (3rd letter of the alphabet is c = cc Chappell Customs) and stained to look vintage. The build then moved over to the engine while Rob was in town to help with the tear down.

The engine was recently rebuilt but still got cleaned, degreased, soda and walnut blasted, fitted with new piston rings, honed cylinders, valves re-lapped and all gaskets and seals replaced. Chris also machined a custom tach plug to eliminate the stock tach gear that sticks out of the right side cover, and a custom hydraulic clutch was fitted into the left side cover. For electrical the bike uses a Boyer ignition system, a Sparx Capacitor, and a PMA (permanent magnet alternator). This bike is capable of running battery-less. Chris also designed and fabricated a custom 2 into 1 aluminum intake system running a single 36mm carb. Chris, with help from wife Jessica, made some custom leather grips and a matching battery bag also stained in the antique style of the seat.

With the arrival of a new baby and time at a premium the build stalled for a while over the winter, small components were being created by Chris in L.A as well as a 200 square foot garage addition to help make room for the expanding machine shop and Rob was busy on his own builds back in Canada. Fast forward 7 months to July and Rob was back in L.A. to help get the build finalized.

Many of the parts Chris had already powdercoated so a lot of the bikes theme discussions were based around colors already selected. Once Rob was there in person, things started to change. They stripped the first color of powdercoating off the wheels so they could finish the bike in the new theme’s direction as dark wheels no longer suited the build. “We had been discussing themes for the bike over emails and phone calls and knew we didn’t want to go with a flashy paint scheme that would detract from all the work put into the bike, but those dark wheels weren’t cutting it” says Rob. “I wanted it understated and classic, not disco, something like a pint of my favorite dark beer,” says Rob and “Stout 33” was born.

From the cream wheels nestled inside the dark metallic bronze frame with copper accents, the dark engine rising up to the frothy head of cream on top, we think we achieved our goals on this build. Classic Custom built Cool – indeed. While it took much longer than our typical builds we feel the end product was worth the wait. We weren’t trying to go over the top or “strange for strange sake,” but remain elegant and functional with extreme attention to detail and that overall ride ability we strive for in every build. We hope you like it – Chappell Customs.”

  • Zundap

    Nice. ..Z

  • arnold

    Excellent build, top notch photography. Carburation routing seems unique and interesting. Many wonderful details. Even the license plate holder is good. thanks.ald

  • The 2-into-1 intake manifold is nicely done. A lot of skill and thought went into this build. I also dig the clever seat suspension.

  • revdub

    Outstanding work. The complete appearance of the bike is well-balanced and really great. The intake and seat suspension are works of art by themselves. Beautiful bike.

  • Richard Brandt

    Absolutely beautiful work here, guys.

  • $20707106

    Nice build but Indian girder, not Harley.

  • davmo

    Stunningly beautiful. Great design and execution. I am still a fan of fenders if you are planning anywhere other than the boardtrack, though.

  • Oldnbroken

    When I saw “Chappell Brothers” I thought for a second that a couple of old Aussie Cricket legends had taken up bike building. I am not so sure about stout but would certainly run with elegant.


    • Well they have done the Ton a few times

      • Oldnbroken

        You might say, that just like the Aussie Chappell Brothers did in a match V NewZealand these guys have scored a double century with their partnership on this bike

        • glenn

          And then rolled a an under arm.

          • arnold

            I find cricket difficult to understand. Is the number of chirps in 14 or 25 seconds that gets you the temperature?

  • talkingbird

    rad. question, does a 2-1 intake that long affect throttle response/anything at all?

    • With the correct jetting throttle response shouldn’t be a problem. The longer runners should increase torque but it’s not that simple. Intake tuning can be a black art but I think there are formulas for determing intake length and diameter for specifice applications. Of course for this bike it’s like asking if Angelina Jolie’s lip size interferes with kissing. The intakes are beautiful (on both this bike and Angelina) – I love to have them for my bike.

  • mridul


  • Sad_Dad


  • tbone

    love the frame, front end, engine…hate hate HATE the white mag wheels. Spokes would have put it over the top for me. Just my .02

    • I’ve got a love-hate thing for mags on customs. I can’t agree with you on this bike though, I think the mags flow well with the bike, and that a set of spokes would possibly make the bike look like 99% of ever other board-tracker throw back. Good work guys!

    • White spokes.

  • OFL

    What pains me the most is that we all were unforgivably sentenced to just visualize this elegant “pint of dark beer”, except for the two inexorably master skilled brothers and the lucky buyer. The rest is just perfect.
    I would say: the nicest bike in Pipeburn all time.

    Well done boys!!

  • Gulfer

    Bike of the year 2012

  • Aynsley

    How does the front suspension work? It´s a miracle for me. This bike is damn hot. I love it!

    • I think if there were any shots of the front, it would be self evident. Basically, the forks are a girder set up. The two pipes work in tandem to pivot at the top and bottom of the neck. The springs on the front provide dampening. It’s a very elegant set up and is basically like taking the springs out of the forks and mounting them behind the headlight. Hope that helps.

    • Here’s a pic that might help.

  • mallee

    beautiful girder front end

  • KC

    This is the nicest I’ve seen in 2012….very well balance of the Trad & Modern look….Bike presence is amazing!

  • I was just taking another look and really appreciate all the work that went into the leather, both the styling and the effort to match the finish. Good job guys.

  • bryan kerswill

    Superb bike, as good as anything i,ve seen here or elsewhere, a classic.