XS’essively Nice: 1973 Yamaha TX650


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This beautiful 1973 Yamaha TX650 is located in equally beautiful Auburn, Washington, a half-hour northeast of Tacoma. It’s listed on eBay with one bid of just under $2,800 and there are three days left on the auction. This beauty was stored indoors for 30 years and has been recently “brought up to flawless mechanical condition,”

062316 Barn Finds - 1973 Yamaha XS650 - 5

In keeping with wacky, seemingly-nonsensical, naming conventions, the 1970 Yamaha 650 was designated the XS-1, the 1971 650 was the XS-1B, the 1972 650 was the XS-2 and the 1973 650, as seen here, is known as the TX. I don’t see a pattern there at all. Not to mention, the next two model designations are the TX-A and the XS-B. It’s like pulling numbers and letters out of a hat.

062316 Barn Finds - 1973 Yamaha XS650 - 3

You can see a chip or two in the paint on this bike, but it only has 7,274 miles on it. It looks like it’s been laid down, possibly, or somehow the right side exhaust pipe and muffler got scuffed up. The seat and seat pan both look almost perfect. I love these older bikes that had both kick start and electric start. This one has a decompression lever on the bottom of the right grip to ensure that you don’t end up in the emergency room if you should opt to kick it over instead of pushing the starter button.

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But, being original, it’s in great shape. Sure, the engine cases could use a polish but these XS650s are really popular right now and this looks like a nice one. A “recent service has included: New tires and tubes, new battery, new clutch cable, rebuilt petcocks, fresh oil change and filter, new fuel filters, carburetor clean/synchronization, brake service w/new fluid, new chain, and new fork seals w/oil.” This is an air-cooled twin with around 53 hp, good for a bit over 100 mph, but will cruise at 70 mph; although about a half-hour into it you may want to slow down or pull over for a rest. I could see this one selling for $4,000-$5,000 or maybe more. Are any of you fans of these Yamaha big twins or do you like to have twice as many cylinders?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Jeff V.

    Nice old ricer bike, I myself, in the military on a ship in Norfolk had a ’75 Kawasaki 900Z1B (fastest bike in its day), used it to get away from the base now & then! (76-79)

    Like 0
  2. geomechs geomechsMember

    This was a design that stuck around for a few years. It seems to me that Yamaha brought out it’s 650 Twin back in ’68. There must have been four of them showed up in my town almost overnight. Kind of a deep green metallic with black accents. Went pretty good too, but they were no match for a Triumph Bonneville. Didn’t even leak as much oil…

    Like 0
    • Kevin

      XS1 650 twin built in 1969 for it’s North American debut in 1970. Not 1968 and not at all a ‘leaker’.

      Like 3
      • Thomas Parker

        So true.The only issues those bikes had early was some electrical wiring problems that Yamaha fixed. I’ve seen them chopped, bare or set up for touring. Great machine made for 14 years.

        Like 0
  3. Rod Davis

    Mine was a ’72. Rode it until ’77. Hard on chains. My first bike with electric start, that was kinda cool. Vibration was intense. Forks and shocks failed early but Girling parts fit as replacements. Rings at 39,000 miles but the head came off without pulling the engine, a plus. Yes, it ‘could’ manage nearly 100 and I often got up to 90 …BUT…don’t do any high speed cornering ’cause she sure could make life interesting with a massive ‘head shake’. Michelin tires helped as did the Girling stuff…just did not “fix” the chassis problems.. Fuel mileage around 39mpg or so average…slow down and mid 40’s was possible…I could make it from Amarillo to Lubbock easily enough. I liked the bike but I liked the next one better, ’77 KZ 650 Sport.

    Like 1
    • Mel

      Frame was stiffened in 73, after Percy Tait rode one and convinced the brass.. 75-78 handle great, and are quite bulletproof.

      Like 2
  4. RexMember

    As a college student, I took my ’71 XS 650 up to 100 many times for stress relief. One time a friend wanted to see what 100 felt like on his face, so I bent over and let the wind hit him directly. Great bike, no oil leaks. Could cruise at 70 or 80 all day in eastern Washington. At 10,000 miles the stock mufflers sounded great. At 20,000, they sounded even better.

    Like 2
  5. Pfk1106

    Compress release? Electric start? My 70 bonne had none of that! And it always marked its territory.

    Like 2
    • Thomas Parker

      No Yamaha 4 strikes had compression release. Nor did all the other Japanese bikes

      Like 0
      • Cycle Salvage Kevin In Iowa

        Uh, yes it does have a manual compression release. IMO, it didn’t need it. I have a few parts bikes if anyone needs parts. I had a ’79 Yamaha SR500 single that most certainly needed a comp release. If not done perfectly, it’d kick back, at very least bruising your calf OR, break your leg OR throw your entire body over the handlebars. I’ve personally seen all 3. Note that the SR was the street version of TT and XT500 except the SR was a ‘hotter’ engine with bigger valves than the off road TT and on/off road XT. FYI, other Japanese models had comp releases for good reason. Some were integral not manual.

        Like 1
  6. Andy Frobig

    There’s no reason to put a compression release on any twin. The XS-1 and 2 were kick-only bikes, and like the British twins, unless your ignition timing was way off, kicking these over was a piece of cake. Bulletproof motor, sexy alloy rims, but they did have a rep for getting squirrely in the corners. These were Yamaha’s first four-strokes, and for a long time, the only ones worth looking at.

    Like 1
    • Thomas Parker

      I always wanted one. Either that or later a Honda CX 500 or 650 Interstate . Funny how Harley Davidson got sooo worked up when their Japanese competitors made V twin engines. Moto Guzzi never complained when Honda’s CX series bike came out.

      Like 2
  7. Tom S.

    I think this is a great looking bike. The Yamaha 650 engine is still very popular with the vintage flat track crowd.

    Like 1
  8. Dan

    The lever engaged the starter, no normal button.

    Like 0
  9. Marco


    Like 0
  10. glenn

    I have one that I bought new and is as good or better than the one listed. A great bike and definitely is fun to ride. BTW it’s for sale.

    Like 1

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