Charles “Randy” Creel Jr.
Randy’s Cycle Service & Restoration
An ASE certified Master Technician, Randy Creel’s been riding motorcycles since he was a kid. In 2001, he turned his passion for motorcycles into his career and opened Randy’s Cycle Service & Restoration. Specializing in vintage bike repair and restoration, Randy’s learned a thing or two about Yamaha’s iconic 650 twins, so we asked him for his input on the bikes.
Although he says there are no true dogs in the model range, Randy prefers the earlier models — up through the 1973-1974 TX650s — over the later bikes. “The 1977 and up are still good bikes, but the tank went square and the electrical system became more complicated,” Randy says.
Randy’s experience supports the model’s reputation for reliability, but he says there are a few things to look out for. Bad starter drives are common (a bad drive will emit a nasty growl from the bottom end of the engine when you press the starter button), and the gear they drive is integral to the crank; left alone, a bad starter drive can ruin a crankshaft. Oil leaks are also common, but rarely require complicated repair. Timing chains can rattle, and the front timing chain guide is known to break. Randy also notes a history of stator and regulator failures, especially on bikes up to about 1976.
For reliability, Randy suggests replacing all the gears and springs in the starter system as soon as it emits any strange noises. Upgrading to electronic ignition on early bikes is high on his list, and he also recommends keeping the charging system in good order by using a quality, sealed battery and paying attention to the condition of electrical connectors.
In addition to their deserved reputation for reliability, Randy points to excellent parts availability as a good reason to consider the XS. “Overall,” Randy says, “they’re a good choice for a reliable Japanese classic rider with style.” MC
Read more about the Yamaha TX650 in 10 Days with a Yamaha TX650.
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