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Yamaha XS650

yamaha xs 650se | jtbrothers

Meet Johan and Joris Theybers from Belgium. They go by the name JTbrothers.

Joris, the younger brother, was bit by the motorcycle bug on a young age and a lifelong motocross rider. One day, destiny came knocking on Joris’ door in unusual form: he broke his foot and ankle landing a big jump, earning him some plaster and some bolts. A few months with a brace and without walking, and Joris was getting bored. He bought a Suzuki Intruder to chop.

1979 yamaha xs 650 se by JTbrothers

Here’s where brother Johan entered into the picture. Johan has a rockin’ garage with all the tools and materials a man could need. A lathe, welder, molder, etc.  Johan likes to build and invent things. The Intruder build was a success and soon they bought another bike. Last year they made an old school Honda CB chopper and a Honda CB café racer. They don’t like to walk between the lines and mix different styles in their creations.


The story of the Yamaha XS begins with the Triumph (more on that later). Joris saw an unfinished project for sale on internet. The owner also had a Yamaha XS for sale. The brothers never intended to use a Yamaha XS as the base for a motorcycle build because of the bike’s immense popularity. The deal was just too good to pass up, and they decided that they could use some practice before building the Triumph. They struck a sweet deal and two ugly bikes ended up in the JTbrothers shop.

1979 yamaha xs 650 se by JTbrothers

For this photo shoot, JTbrothers chose an abandoned coalmine building and brought along photographer Silke Baens.

Joris says: “The first plan was to go for ‘brad style.’ But you see a lot off bikes in this style so I had another vision in my head.”

Johan fills in: “He came with a colored sketch and said this is how it needs to look, the rest we’ll see on the way… We agreed and this time we stuck to the plan.”

JTbrothers made nearly every part you see themselves. What they didn’t make, they adjusted to suit their mood and needs. Their creations and modifications were “the old school way with pretty basic materials in our garage. Low budget is the way we want it.”

1979 yamaha xs 650 se by JTbrothers

These guys are selling themselves short. Yes, they used basic materials. Yes, they kept it low budget. But these two custom builds are in no way cheap. I’m really digging them.

“The list of self-made parts and details is endless. The frame, the front end, the brake and clutch levers, the handlebars are included. The seat is made out of an old bicycle seat. The gas tank is from an old moped with some hidden mounts attached. The brake and shift pedal are really simple and clean like the entire bike. The meat hooks with speed holes and the front end are worth mentioning.”

“An old brass candlestick found in the trashcan was recycled and rebuild on the lathe to a tail light. Foot pegs are made out of brass just like the breather valve. The gas cap is made out of steel after Joris found a brass piece on the ground at a flea market. Every part has its story and we can keep going on…”

“The paint job was done by our friend, Olli. It’s pretty daring and a combination of metal flake, candy and normal white. The idea for the rising sun on the tank is simple, it’s a Japanese engine and so it became the name of the bike.”

Stay tuned as I’ll be posting the Triumph bobber that shared the spotlight with the Yamaha XS650SE in this photo shoot. For now, what do you think? Not bad for what JTbrothers called one of “two ugly bikes”, but then again, some of the best builds always start with ugly, right?

Adrian S.

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