Good morning/afternoon/evening (delete as appropriate), I'm Paul and I'm one of the two guys running this site and here's the story of how I inadvertently got started.

If you Google "bored housewife" then you would likely receive a huge list of wholly inapropriate results for which I wouldn't be responsible. However if you Google "bored husband", it's my guess that you would only receive three results (in the spirit of the triple theme), and top of the list would be the story below.

Try to imagine the scene, a bored, disconsolate, middle aged bloke, just before his least favourite time of year, Christmas 2010. All that festivity, giving, incarceration, enforced happiness and spending... Aaaaargh. Anyway I digress. Having restored a couple of bikes, and a Triumph Stag, and sufficient time having elapsed for my finances to recover, my attentions were diverted to eBay. Now I like restoring bikes, relative to cars they're smaller for a start, more maneagable and there isn't any bodywork to deal with, so I started looking through the listings for a suitable bike.

When I mention classic bikes, everyone I know mentions BSA, Triumph, Matchless etc. But in 1977 I was fifteen years old (which calls into question the "middle aged" comment in the previous paragraph) and impressionable. This means that the bikes that I remember fondly now are typically Japanese bikes of the late 70's. Particular favourites being Suzuki GT750, Yamaha RD400 and the Kawasaki Two Stroke triple brigade. Now I can imagine that you're trying to work out where the Yamaha XS750 fits into this lot, it's four stroke for a start... well it doesn't. If truth be told, I don't remember the XS, other than a magazine article that drifts through my mind of a comparison between the XS750 and the XS1100 in South Africa.

However you're probably ahead of me now, and you've guessed what happens next... there it was, looking dishevelled against a wall in a poor quality photo... my future project. There must have been some allure, because I found myself emailing the seller to ask about the bike, then travelling north to see it, and then a week later, via the M6 and Barwell Trailer Hire, it was mine.


I'd firstly like to say how naive I was regarding XS's back then. I've slowly become more anal as time has progressed (note that the single use of that word will ensure our Google ranking as number 1, which is bad, as we're aiming for number 3). I should mention here the members of the UK forum, particularly Paul and Ralph, for tolerating my initial enthusiasm and lack of knowledge, and nurturing me until I can recite the first 23 pages of the parts book from memory, I owe you guys.

On the forum we regularly lament the concept of the "Previous Owner" (known as PO). My bike's POs had indelibly stamped their mark on my bike, while it was waiting 30-odd years to be owned by me. Not realising that their role was simply that of caretaker, they had the audacity to bend things, assemble things incorrectly, remove things and dispose of them, and paint anything they liked black. So the indelible mark of the PO was the mark of poverty, ineptitude, and desperation. When the XS finally made it home to me, it was in serious need of counselling, it had self-esteem issues and a Frankenstein complex. 

It's worthwhile mentioning here that the general aura of the bike was poor, its karma was at a very low ebb. The photographs don't show the red spots of rust on every black part, the quality of the PO's painting skills, the bent zinc plated parts, incorrect assembly, and obviously they don't show the sheer number of missing parts.

Recently, on holiday in New England, a Whale watching tour used the words "definitely possible" and "certainly likely" when referring to whether we'd see the aquatic mammals, and so in this spirit of vagueness, it's definitely possible, and certainly likely that the restoration to concours was going to be a costly experience ( a bit like the whale watching itself).

The XS had an MOT, which was amazing enough, and my friend Graham (though not the Graham of this site fame) offered, or was cajoled (maybe it even involved danger money) to ride the bike prior to its teardown. He reported back (which was good considering the amount of beta blockers he'd had to chemically conquer the fear prior to the ride) that the clutch was dragging badly, the engine was a s*d to start (involved jump leads), the brakes didn't brake, the seat was only retained by one hinge, the key could be removed in any position, although there was only one position as it was a Honda item. We then checked the compression and it was low on cylinder 3, and this made us happy. Any other cylinder and we'd have felt uneasy, but remember that we like the number 3.

Things I didn't know (well the visible things anyway) about the bike when I bought it (hindsight is such a wonderful thing)...

Black wheels sprayed with a rattle can. All black engine (should have alloy polished end covers and fins), headlamp "ears" the wrong way up, incorrect headlamp, instruments off an XS750SE. "E" engine in a 2D model bike, no air-box, incorrect chrome middle gearbox cover, incorrect (E model) rev counter, shouldn't have fork gaiters... 

And other things, in no particular order, that I have discovered since...

Rotten seat pan, fuel tank had been dented, then amazingly some PO had cut a slot in it to allow dent removal, and the cut welded up, seat mounting dremelled (is that a word) off (but kindly left with the bike), the most amazingly butchered wiring loom ever, rotten rear mudguard, headlamp adjuster bracket missing (wrong headlamp altogether), wrong (Honda) ignition switch. wrong fusebox, one of the three ignition coils was off an RD400, wrongly assembled clutch, one carburettor float fallen off, carbs not re-jetted for the K&N filters, wrong spark plugs fitted, oil smoke from the crankcase breather drifting everywhere as there was no air-box for it to be routed into. one carburettor diaphragm punctured.

Now my story is long and complex, and to be honest I haven't detailed it as I have gone along. This is mainly because my hands were filthy with oil and grease, and sullying my computer at this point to create the tawdry story of the day was therefore unlikely. And later, when clean with whisky in hand, tiredness was usually the excuse for no progress, and then as the days and weeks progressed, so much water had flowed under the bridge, there seemed no point.

So what I have decided to do is to post pictures of before and after for several random components and areas of the bike. Suffice to say that I'm still dedicated to a perfect restoration. Some areas aren't original, namely the wheels should be black/silver, and the exhausts 3 into 2 (though there are plans afoot here). Also the clock cups should be black, and I do have black ones, but preferred the chrome.

Anyway, here follows a random and small selection of before and after. Hope you get the gist of the standard of my work, after all, it's only money...

Picture below is Paul's bike, May 2013, location UK.



Before and After Photographs