Cafe Racer Newfoundland Style

xjbikes 83 SECA 650 Cafe ProjectMost of my posts are about me and what I have been doing. While they are typically motorcycle and XJ650 related sometimes they are more of a rant to keep me out of the clock tower with the bottle of Southern Comfort and the high powered Italian assault rifle.

I go through pretty much every motorcycle website that has anything to do with Yamaha Maxims and Secas. Recently, I checked out a build page titled "83 SECA 650 Cafe Project". I have seen some nice rebuilds and some crappy ones but never one that deserved to be praised publicly, until now. When I clicked on the link the first picture I saw was this (the before shot):

Elvis' Cafe Racer

xjbikes 81 XJ650 Maxim Cafe Racer on Sibenik Castle CroatiaThis has got to be one of my favorite motorcycles. Mainly because it's mine. But also because I know that no detail was overlooked in the building of this custom Yamaha XJ650 Maxim Cafe Racer. This bike was built for a 'round the world trip starting in Europe. The entire bike was stripped down to the frame and built up from scratch.

Reliability was the number one priority when this project began. The exhaust has been ceramic coated, the carbs fully disassembled and balanced, and the engine rebuild from the crank up. To conserve the charging system the OEM tail light and turn signals were replaced with LED lights.

Silver Surfer

xj650 blog 1983 Silver Special XJ650 Maxim frontThis is a 1983 XJ650 Maxim Special. This bike is pretty close to stock with the exception of the silver upholstery on the seat. This motorcycle was exported from the United States to England back in 1989.

Rhymes with Orange

I spend far to much time searching the Internet for anything to do with Yamaha XJ650 motorcycles. My love for this motorcycle is obsessive. I come across pictures of these beautiful bikes all the time and I've seen a lot of custom builds. Some good, some bad, and some ugly.

Here's a rebuild that really caught my eye. The builder's attention to detail really stands out on this motorcycle. Notice the custom battery cover and license plate holder. The frame and rims are painted to match and rear fender has been modified to accept a custom rear brake light and turn signals.

This is one awesome ride.

xj650 blog Custom Orange 1981 XJ650 Maxim Front View

xj650 blog Custom Orange 1981 XJ650 Maxim Front View

xj650 blog Custom Orange 1981 XJ650 Maxim Front View

I never thought I could like orange this much but it really stands out on this 1981 XJ650 Maxim

HOW TO: Install an aftermarket fuse box

This is a How-To on replacing the oem fuse box with a more reliable aftermarket ATO-style fuse box. Before we get started, we'll need to collect a few pieces. We'll need a fuse box. I picked mine up from the CARQUEST store where I work. It's a reboxed Littelfuse brand going by the part number 350417BP

xj650 blog Littlefuse 5 gang fuse box

In addition, you'll need a couple of mounting screws (8x1"), electrical tape, a couple zip-ties, a box of female insulated spade terminals, and fuses (ATO10 amp x 3 & ATO20 amp x 1).

Tools? Phillips Screwdriver and Wire Cutters/Crimpers/Strippers.

Okay... Ready? Here we go. Let's meet the patient:

xj650 blog My wife's '82 XJ650J Maxim

My wife's '82 XJ650J Maxim.

Here are the steps...
1. Remove Seat.
2. Remove Right-Hand Access Cover exposing battery.
3. Disconnect battery.
4. Unscrew old fuse block.

xj650 blog Yamaha XJ650 OEM Fusebox

5. Note fuse sizes and wire colors.

xj650 blog Yamaha XJ650 OEM Fusebox Diagram

6. Pry open metal wire retainer ring at the base of oe fuse box.

xj650 blog Yamaha fuse box wire retainer

7. Place zip-ties around left- and right-hand wire bundles and unwrap tape.
8. Cut wires at crimp joints.
9. Take new fuse box and position it for mounting, making sure all the wires will reach their respective terminals.
10. Strip wires and install female insulated spade terminals.

xj650 blog Yamaha fuse box wires prepared

11. Tape wires bundles and attach terminals to fuse box.
12. Using the two #8x1" screws, mount the fuse box.

xj650 blog Yamaha fuse box with wires and fuses installed

13. Install fuses and dust cap.

xj650 blog Yamaha fuse box complete

14. Reconnect the battery.
15. Install side cover and seat.

That's it. You're done!

(Editor's Note) It occurs to me that if you have a tool caddy you'll want to make sure you allow room for it

xj650 blog Yamaha fuse box complete next to tool caddy

Notice how I've bent the spades a little to make the connections a little more convenient. I still need to label the fuses. From left to right, they're 10A IGNITION, 10A SIGNAL, 10A HEAD L., and 20A MAIN.

(Written by Don Bangert Author of several How-To's and the blog, The Path Less Traveled.)

HOW TO: Install a fuel filter

For those who've requested a "How-To" on installing a fuel filter, here you go. This one's actually pretty easy. I had mine installed in about ten minutes. That includes the time it took to take pictures and notes. The fuel filter we'll be installing is a Primeline part number 7-02357.

xj650 blog Fuel Filter
You should be able to pick one up at any CARQUEST or NAPA auto parts store (Note: NAPA sells it under the Balkamp# 740-1158). You may even be able to find one in you local hardware store. Look in their small engine department (think: lawnmower). You'll also need a couple of clamps, a pair of cutters, a flat-headed screwdriver (for prying), and a 12mm wrench.

We'll be working on my 1981 Yamaha XJ650 Maxim...

xj650 blog 1981 Yamaha XJ650 Maxim
Here are the steps...

1. Remove the Seat.
2. Loosen and remove the Retaining Bolt at the rear of the Fuel Tank using a 12mm wrench.

xj650 blog loosen fuel tank retaining bolt
3. Turn Fuel Selector Valve to "On".
4. Remove the Fuel and Vacuum Hoses from the Fuel Petcock.

xj650 blog petcock fuel and vacuum lines
5. Remove and set aside the Fuel Tank.
6. Cut the Fuel Hose in an appropriate location for your new Fuel Filter.

xj650 blog cut fuel lines
7. Install the Fuel Filter with two new clamps.
8. Re-install the Fuel Tank but don't install the Retaining Bolt.
9. Lift up on the rear of the Fuel Tank and carefully re-install the Fuel and Vacuum Hoses.

xj650 blog cut fuel filter installed
10. Re-install the Retaining Bolt and Seat.

That's it. You're done!

(Yes, I know... I forgot to get hose clamps. I'll put 'em on later.)

(Written by Don Bangert Author of several How-To's and the blog, The Path Less Traveled.)

HOW TO: Clean the Enrichment Circuit Well

Do you have a bike that won't start when cold no matter how much choke you give it? Does it take a bit of starting fluid to get it to spring to life? Does it then start right up after it has warmed up? It sounds to me like you've got a plugged Enrichment Circuit Well and it needs to be cleaned.

Where are we going to find the Enrichment Circuit Well? Unfortunately, it's located in the fuel bowl which means--yes, you guessed it--the carbs have to come off to clean them. So, pick a nice rainy day when you wouldn't have gone riding anyway and let's get to it. Besides, the first time you hit that starter button after the cleaning has been done and the bike starts right up, you'll be glad you did it.

You're going to need a couple of tools to complete this task. There are people who sell extra long drill bit for reaching down and clearing out the Starter Jet at the bottom of the well. I personally used the smallest rod from a cutting torch tip cleaning set. I laid it against a grinding wheel to make a long tapered tip. (If you do this, be very careful with it. It's like a very long needle.) Aerosol carb cleaner is a must, too. Something with the little plastic nozzle on the can, too. I'd recommend filling the well with the carb cleaner and letting it sit to soak for an hour or so before you get after it.

Now to the Enrichment Circuit. After you remove the carbs and their fuel bowls, you'll notice a brass tube sticking up (down) from the bottom of the carb body. This tube extends down into a well. This is what we are after. When you apply choke, a valve up above opens and pulls fuel up from this well to enrich the fuel/air mixture entering the engine. This enriched state is what helps get the bike started when it is cold. If the passage way into the well becomes plugged, fuel won't fill the well and you won't be able to start the bike with out adding some fuel from an external source (starter fluid).

That said, here is an overhead shot of what a typical Hitachi fuel bowl looks like and where we'll be concentrating our cleaning efforts:
xjbikes blog Enrichment Circuit Well
The upper port bisects the well at about a 45° angle. Fuel from the bowls flows into the lower portion of the well from the fuel bowl. Due to this downward angle, sediment and crud tends to collect at the bottom of this drilled boss. Here's another sectional view to help you better "see" how these two holes intersect. (Note: this picture depicts what I "imagine" they look like. I've not cut one in two to find out for sure.)
xjbikes blog Fuel Bowl Cross Sectional View
With your tool, you'll want to carefully probe and remove any obstructions in these two passages. You can use the carb spray to help flush debris out of the hole, too. The acid test to know if you've got it properly cleaned is to place the straw from the carb cleaner can up tight against the passage leading into the well and spray fluid into the hole.

xjbikes blog Use Eye ProtectionIf you've done a good job cleaning, carb cleaner will literally spray out the well in a stream about ten feet. It has to be in a stream--like from a squirt gun--to be considered cleaned.
Oh, and remember while doing this...

(Editor's Note: Always wear eye protection when doing any kind of mechanical work. Follow safe shop practices and keep your work area clean. When working with solvents always make sure your room is well ventilated and you wear proper respiratory protection.)

xjbikes blog Use Eye Protection
Here's a picture I showing a properly cleaned well using a bright pen light.

But, remember, the Enrichment Circuit Well is only half the Enrichment Circuit. While you're at it, you might as well finish the job by making sure the tube that drops into the well is also clear. Once you're satisfied you've done a good job, put her back together and be amazed at how easily your bike will start.


(Written by Don Bangert Author of several How-To's and the blog, The Path Less Traveled.)

HOW TO: Test your starter circuit

Start with the bike on the center stand with side stand up and the transmission in neutral. You will also want the ignition switch turned to on and the kill switch turned to on. The numbers in the picture coincide with the steps listed below.

xj650 blog Wiring Diagram

1. Test the voltage at the battery. It should read at least 12.5 volts. Charge and retest as needed.

2. Using an old screwdriver, short across the two large terminals at the starter solenoid. This will bypass the solenoid and allow the starter to crank the engine. If the starter doesn't crank, perform a continuity test between the negative battery terminal and the engine case. If you read no resistance (or almost no resistance), repair or replace the starter. Otherwise, repair or replace the ground cables and retest.

xj650 blog Solenoid Shorting

3. Locate the pigtail from the starter solenoid and unplug it. Using a jumper lead, hook the Red/White wire from the solenoid to the battery's positive terminal. Using another jumper lead, hook one end to the solenoid's Blue/White wire. Momentarily touch the other end of this lead to the battery's negative terminal. If the solenoid is functioning properly, the solenoid should click and the starter should begin cranking the engine. Repeat this step several times to ensure the integrity of the solenoid. If nothing happens, repair or replace the starter solenoid.

xj650 blog Solenoid Pigtail

(h/t the bap3826)

4. If the solenoid checks out, hook your continuity tester between the battery's ground terminal and the Blue/White wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter solenoid (solenoid pigtail unplugged). It should read an open state while the starter button is not pressed. When you push in the starter button, the tester should then read a closed state. If there's no change, inspect, clean, or replace the starter button switch and its ground and retest.

5. Using your voltmeter, hook its ground wire to the battery's negative terminal and its positive wire to the Red/White wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter solenoid (solenoid pigtail unplugged). The meter should read 12 volts (approx.) if the bike is in neutral, and/or the clutch lever is squeezed and side stand is up with the key on and the kill switch on. If not, inspect the wire coming from the starter circuit cut-off relay for any breaks or chaffing. If the wire looks good, go to the next step.

6. Remove the left-hand side cover to gain access to the starter circuit cut-off relay. Using your voltmeter, hook its ground wire to the battery's negative terminal and its positive wire to the Red/White wire coming from the kill switch (starter circuit cut-off relay pigtail unplugged). The meter should read 12 volts (approx.) if the ignition switch is on and the kill switch is on. If not, you will need to inspect, clean or replace the 20A Main fuse, the ignition switch, the kill switch, or the wiring between them. If you measure 12 volts (approx.), go to the next step.

xj650 blog Starter Circuit Cut Off Relay
(h/t the bap3826)

7. Hook your continuity tester between the battery's ground terminal and the Sky Blue wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter circuit cut-off relay (relay pigtail unplugged). It should read an open state while the transmission is in gear. When you shift into neutral, the tester should then read a closed state. If there's no change, inspect, clean, or replace the neutral switch and its ground and retest. If it checks out, proceed to the next step.

8. Hook your continuity tester between the battery's ground terminal and the Black/Yellow wire coming from the bike's wiring harness for the starter circuit cut-off relay (relay pigtail unplugged). It should read an open state while the clutch lever is released and/or the side stand is down. When you squeeze the clutch lever and the side stand is up, the tester should then read a closed state. If there's no change, inspect, clean, or replace the clutch and side stand switches and their grounds and retest. If they check out, proceed to the next step. (Note: some models may not have a side stand switch.)

9. If all previous tests have passed, replace the starter circuit cut-off relay and try to start the bike again. If it still doesn't start, have your bike exorcised of demons by a Catholic priest and retest as there's really nothing else that would keep your bike from cranking over.

(Written by Don Bangert Author of several How-To's and the blog, The Path Less Traveled.)

HOW TO: Replace instrument cluster light bulbs

You see it every time you climb on your bike. It sits there providing you with a mountain of information for your riding pleasure. It does its job without complaint. But every once in awhile, something goes wrong and you're forced to open her up.

xj650 blog Cluster Shots

Well, that's the case for this latest installment in my "How-To" series. When I bought my bike, I noticed that the tachometer light wasn't working. It was mid April heading into summer. I was a new rider and had no plans on riding at night, so I didn't bother fixing it.

Well, times have changed. Here it is the beginning of October and I'm fighting tooth and nail for every riding day I can get. I've embraced—with open arms—the idea of riding at night. But, that burned out tachometer light has got to be fixed. I've just got to know what's going on in the engine room.

Enough of that. Let's get started with our project.

Here are the steps...
1. Remove tachometer cable (if so equipped).
2. Remove speedometer cable.

xj650 blog loosen tachometer cable nutxj650 blog loosen speedometer cable nut

3. Remove instrument cluster mounting bolts.

xj650 blog loosen right cluster boltxj650 blog loosen left cluster bolt

4. Remove headlight from headlight bucket.
5. Unplug and fish through the wiring harnesses for the speedometer lights, the tachometer lights, (the tachometer head, if so equipped), and idiot light tree.

xj650 blog remove headlight

6. Remove the instrument cluster.

xj650 blog remove cluster

7. Remove the screws from the rear of the instrument cluster.

xj650 blog remove housing screws

8. Remove the chrome housing.
9. Remove and replace the light bulbs.

xj650 blog light bulb locations

10. Perform any other work that needs to be done (cleaning, lubing, etc.)

xj650 blog lube clusterxj650 blog lube cables

11. Reinstallation is the reverse process.

That's about it. This one's pretty easy to take care of.

Bonus Tip: if you scroll back up and look at the instrument cluster you'll see a small digital clock affixed to the tachometer. That's held there by a piece of Velcro. This allows me to remove it when I wash the bike or find myself in a heavy down pour. Underneath the head cover (that plastic piece surrounding the ignition switch) you'll find another piece of Velcro. I can stick the clock there until the wet condition passes.

(Written by Don Bangert Author of several How-To's and the blog, The Path Less Traveled.)

HOW TO: Change your fork seals

You noticed it sometime back, but ignored it hoping it would go away. But, it hasn't. In your embarrassment, you quickly wipe off your fork tubes when meeting friends for fear that they might say something. Worse yet, it's gotten so bad that your front brake pads have become contaminated with fork oil and you've got oil spatters all over the front of your riding pants.

Well, my friends, it's time to do something about it. Today, we're going to tear into those troublesome forks and replace those pesky seals. And then you can ride in confidence knowing that you've got a clean looking machine.

(Note: These instructions were developed while working on a 1981 XJ650H and should be adequate for all 650 models up to 1983. Other models will very in design.)

Today we'll be working on my trusty steed:
xj650 blog 1981 XJ650H
Before we get started, let's quickly review all the parts to a front shock:
xj650 blog Front Fork Parts

As I step through the directions, I'll refer back to this image by placing in brackets each part's corresponding number. For example, if I say to remove the cap bolt, I'll follow it with [15] so that you can look at this picture for clarification.

Here are the steps...
1. Place the bike on a level surface and on its center stand.
2. Using a jack, raise and support the bike so the front tire is off the ground.

Note: you will want to make sure the bike doesn't rock back and forth on the center stand with the front wheel off the ground.

3. Remove the front axle cotter pin and discard. Loosen and remove the axle nut and washer.

xj650 blog Remove the Front Wheel

4. Slide out the axle, tapping gently with a hammer if necessary.
5. Remove the speedometer gear and remove the tire.
6. Remove the bolts holding the front fender and the brake caliper(s). See arrows for locations.

xj650 blog Remove the Front Fender

Moving to the top end of the forks, we'll next need to remove the handlebar to gain access to the cap bolts[15], circlips[17], etc. Note: if you have a fairing, you may need to remove it to complete the following steps. Also, on some models, removal of the handlebar isn't required as it doesn't cover the end of the fork tubes. If this is your case, skip to Step 9. Another option is to break the shocks down after removing them from the bike. If you choose this option, skip to Step 13. You may need to refer to Steps 9, 10, 11, and 12 for information on removing the fork springs[11].

7. Remove the plastic center cover and the handlebar clamp bolt dust covers. Loosen and remove the handlebar clamp bolts and clamps.

xj650 blog Remove the Handlebars

8. Remove and set aside the handlebar.

xj650 blog Set Aside the Handlebars

9. Remove the fork caps[16] covering the cap bolts[15] and circlips[17].

xj650 blog Remove Caps

Note: On some models, the cap bolts[15] will have an air valve for filling the shocks with air. If you have this style, you will want to let the air out by depressing the valve before removing the cap bolt[15].

10. Using a clamp, compress the fork spring[11] by pushing down on the cap bolt[15]. This will allow you to pry out the circlip[17].

xj650 blog Compress Fork Springs

11. Remove the cap bolt[15]. Replace the o-ring[12] if it has become damaged. Remove any rust that may be present on the cap bolt[15].

xj650 blog Remove Cap Bolt

12. Slide out and set aside the fork spring[11].
13. Remove the drain plug[18]. Drain the fork oil into a suitable container. Raise and lower the shock several times to remove any remaining oil. Replace drain plug[18] when finished.

xj650 blog Remove Cap Bolt

14. Next, we'll need to loosen, but not remove the upper and lower shock pinch bolts.

xj650 blog Loosen Upper Pinch Bolt

xj650 blog Loosen Lower Pinch Bolt
15. Using a wedge or large-bladed screwdriver, pry apart the lower pinch clamp to allow the shock to slide down and out.

xj650 blog Wedge Lower Pinch Clamp
16. Insert your cylinder holding tool (or something similar) into the fork tube. This tool can be purchased or one can be built from scratch using a spark plug socket turned upside-down.

xj650 blog Insert Holding Tool
17. Flip the assembly over and remove the cylinder securing bolt[20] from the bottom of the fork assembly.

xj650 blog Remove Cylinder Securing Bolt
Here you can see the three separate parts of the shock assembly:

xj650 blog Shock Parts
18. Remove and discard the old dust seal[6], oil seal clip[4], and oil seal[5], being careful not to damage the outer fork tube[2] in the process.

xj650 blog Wedge Lower Pinch Clamp
Here are the new parts we'll be installing:

xj650 blog New Shock Seals
19. Clean the outer fork tube[2], then install your new oil seal[5], oil seal clip[4], and dust seal[6].

xj650 blog Seals Uninstalled
20. Clean the inner tube[7]. Lubricate the newly installed seals with a light oil and slide the inner tube[7] into the outer fork tube[2].

xj650 blog Lubricate New Seals
From here, you'll just need to reverse the process to finish reassembling the fork assembly.

If you discover the taper spindle[9] has fallen out while working with the shock, don't panic. Hold the tube at a slight angle and slide it back down the tube. As illustrated, the tapered end faces up and fits into a boss at the end of the outer fork tube[2]. After you get it facing right-side up, push it into the boss with a long dowel. Also, when you're replacing the fork springs[11], you'll notice there's a difference in spring pitch, i.e. one end is wound tighter than the other. This tighter wound end faces up or goes in last. (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it.)

As you're reassembling the shock, you'll need to put oil in it. This should be done before you slide the fork spring[11] back in after it has been remounted on the bike. On my '81 Maxim, the factory service manual calls out for 262cc (9.24 oz) of Yamaha Fork Oil 10wt or equivalent. On later models, I presume with air-assist, the factory service manual says to use 278cc (9.4 oz) of oil. I used Castrol 10wt Non-Detergent in mine. Also, if you do have air-assist, the factory service manual says to fill with, but not to exceed, 1.2 kg/cm² (17 psi) of air using a manual air pump. Of course, you'll want to adjust this air pressure to suit your riding style.

Hopefully, I didn't miss anything in the directions as there were quite a number of steps. If you see a mistake or something I've left out, let me know about it so I can correct it.

That's about it. Good luck!

(Written by Don Bangert Author of several How-To's and the blog, The Path Less Traveled.)