XS650: What Could Have Been   Leave a comment

I don’t require a bike to be clean. Mine mostly aren’t. I do require the lines to be though. And the feel. That must be right.

Many of my bikes have been what most might call rats. Now I don’t take that negatively. After all, rats fulfil their niche conditions perfectly. Evolutionary survivors.


1 .. a prime example of what was being produced in the mid 70s...this 6T chop of my cousins took out the cold kiwi hill climb in 1977 when many specialised bikes failed

a prime example of what was being produced in the mid 70s…this 6T chop of my cousins took out the cold kiwi hill climb in 1977 when many specialised bikes failed


If form and function are observed, a bike is not supposed to remain clean.

This is one of the things I like about the XS650. And not just me. This is a machine that simply wont die. A ghost returning to haunt Yamaha.

3 clean platforms. None perfect. All with recogniseable soul.

You met Bob a while ago. He helped create the Ténéré 650 prototype. He came from Norton, NVT. Did little jobs for Yamaha.

“We were trying to create extra business. The British motorcycling industry was sort of collapsing, and tried to generate money by doing engineering contracts for other companies. We did several contracts for Yamaha while I was technical director at Norton. Yamaha wasn’t the big international company it is now, and they did not know about Europe as they do now.”

Development of the HL500.


2 .. HL500 .. cool singles

HL500 .. cool singles


“At Norton we did the HL500 motocross bike with the TT500 engine. We developed the chassis, it was the first one with an aluminium swingarm. It was a very exclusive bike, only 300 units were produced.”

And the NVT650.


3 ... NVT650

.. NVT650 … often called the Ascot TT, according to Ludy Beumer from Yamaha Netherlands ‘The Amercano’s (YMUS) had absolutely nothing to do with this project.’ Bob Trigg himself said that the american flat trackers – ascot – was only the design concept


“Also we did a good styling concept for the XS650, styled as an American flat-tracker, the Ascot TT. I still have the bike, it still works great, it’s a real pure motorcycle. When I ride it, people still ask me where they can buy it.”

I’m sure I’ve seen this bike. In the French Alps. Doing what it was designed to do. Leave me in the dust.

Halco, I believe, used to knock these off. Even caught some of the magic.

It’s not perfect. But. Bob is right. It would have sold.

Too bad the French were still to learn their rally marketing lessons.

What could have been.

…nicely written-up in Classic Bike Dec 1996 p102-5…

XS650TT Bob Trigg Ascot TT

Posted January 23, 2011 by xscafe in Frame - Design, Frame - Handling, XS Pics

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