Only the Essentials
Steve Simqu works throughout the day as a CAD manager and project engineer. In other words, he does a lot of mechanical stuff. In the evenings he tinkers in the garage with his many projects. We first ran into each other at the 2017 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which you’ll read about later in this issue. He led our group out of Oakland to start the two-hour ride on his custom-built Yamaha XS650.
We were able to meet up again later near McKeesport to chat more about the bike. Steve mentioned that he picked up this 1977 XS a couple of years ago for only $250. “My buddy told me about it, and I couldn’t pass it up. At the time, I already had a 1973 XS650 rat bobber, so this new purchase sat around for a while. Eventually, I decided to finish it for XS650 Fest and ChopOff, which is the largest gathering of XS650s in the US. It’s an annual event held in Defiance, Ohio at the Pandemonium Shop. The build started in February 2017 and was completed by summer. Most of the work I was able to do myself. When it became crunch time, I had some friends come give me a hand.”
The one piece of the motorcycle that stands out the most is the swingarm. Most people think it’s a hardtail upon first glance. “The goal was to make it comfortable but look different,” Steve said. “I really wanted the hardtail look but also preferred suspension because my ass was killing me on my other hardtail XS.” He started with the A-Frame but wasn’t a fan of the standard horizontal setup. Drawing on CAD at work throughout the day allowed him to stir up something fancier, and he thought the teardrop shape would work perfectly.
When it came time to select the paint, Toyota’s Sunset Bronze was the immediate color choice for the frame. BMW’s Imola Red was used for the modified SL350 fuel tank. He mentioned, “I’m not typically a fan of metal flake, but this tank felt right with a light coat.”
Some of Steve’s favorite parts include the custom sediment bowl and other small pieces he built himself. Washers, mirror bar ends, the choke knob, and wheel spacers were a few of the first bits made on his lathe. When bringing attention to the cables and wires, he pointed out the cloth guitar cable that was used. These details helped pull it all together.
Besides addressing a couple of small things over the winter, Steve made it known that he’s very happy with the bike. “It’s fun and feels surprisingly comfortable.” Before wrapping up, there was talk of some other exciting projects he had in the works. I have the feeling that this is just the beginning.