Thursday, August 6, 2015
The Yamaha XS650 is a mid-size motorcycle made by Yamaha Motor Company. The standard model was introduced in 1968 and produced through 1979. The "Special" cruiser model was introduced in 1978 and produced through 1985. The XS650 began with the 1955 Hosk SOHC 500 twin. After about 10 years of producing 500 twin, Hosk engineers designed a 650 cc twin. Later the Hosk company was acquired by Showa Corporation, and in 1960 Yamaha had bought Showa with Hosk's early design of 650 cc twin.
When the Yamaha XS 650 was launched in 1968 it had one of the most advanced engines in its class of large parallel twin motorcycles. The engine and gearbox are unit construction with the crankcase split horizontally for ease of assembly whereas almost all contemporaries in its class in 1968 are either unit construction with a vertically split crankcase or pre-unit construction with separate engine and gearbox. The XS650's engine was used in AMA Professional Dirt Track Racing by national champion Kenny Roberts. In 1968 only the Laverda 750S, also launched that year, matched the XS 650's modernity of unit construction and SOHC valve operation.