Archive for August 2011

XS650: Vesco Twin 650 Streamliner   Leave a comment

A fine photo-essay. Rebuilt Vesco Streamliner. From The Motorcyclist Cafe. Hattip Jason.


Vesco Streamliner .. Twin XS650 Supercharged


on the move


brother-in-law Scott Foster and brother Chuck pushing streamliner off the starting line


Kent and Dusty … and baby


Rick Vesco had his ‘summer of ’69 too. Built this liner. Used Yamaha’s new fangeled 4 stroke twin motors…. tuned mildly for the ‘Pepco’ superchargers. Raced into the seventy’s. Crashed and may never haved raced again. Top speed around the high 170’s or 180’s…….not bad for two little 650 motors (stock: about 30 horse .. Supercharged: not more than 130-140 horse)

Builder Rick Vesco explains, “My brother Don was a Yamaha dealer and had been racing the 350cc Yamaha two-strokes at Bonneville. One problem with the two-strokes was that they didn’t have much torque, so when the overhead-cam four-stroke came out in 1969, I thought that two of these, supercharged might provide the kind of power we needed.”

The streamliner was campaigned only one season. Crashed in 1970 at over 175 mph. A short wheelbase +  no stabilizing fin = insability. Vesco said something about incorrect tyre selection.

“I had no money to put a lot of work into it, so we never rebuilt it or ran it again.”

Apparently Rick and brother Don had Yamaha dealerships. May have been indirect factory support.


engine side plate and supercharger drive mount


mounted and wired




looking like business


Kent Riches from Airtech  bought the derelict streamliner for $1,500 from Bonneville veteran Ron Secor in 2001.

“It was mostly just the chassis. Most of the body panels were gone, but Secor actually had the original molds. The engines and engine plates were missing also.”

‘Rick Vesco still had the engines. Don Vesco had the plates. One blower was missing, but was acquired from a man who had bought it from Vesco in 1974’.

Kent made new body panels and restored the machine to better-than-new condition.

Prepared for display, not racing.

He’s also involved in e-drag.

December 2010, collector John Parham displayed the vintage liner at the National Motorcycle Museum.


1 way pass of 179.084 mph


Riches-Nelson Racing and Southern Utah University (SUU) teaming up to create a 300 mph electric motorcycle.

Paul Thede and Lightning Motorcycles SuperBike, the first electric-powered motorcycle to break the 200 mph barrier.


Paul Thede and Lightning Motorcycles SuperBike, the first electric-powered motorcycle to break the 200 mph barrier


Lightning Motorcycles. 206.079 mph. Bonneville Salt Flats. Utah. Sunday, August 14. 2011. Smashed the previous Riches/Nelson E-bike LSR  (176.434 mph on the Airtech Lightning Bolt streamliner) . Heavily faired. Traditional sit-on design.  Previous best, 173.388 mph (2010 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials).


300-mph barrier buster. Yamaha Silverbird, Don Vesco. Two Yamaha TZ750 engines @ 240 hp, the Silverbird LSR, 302.928 mph


August 28, 1978. Don Vesco averaged 318.598 mph on Lightning Bolt. 21-foot streamliner. Two 1016cc turbo’d Kawasaki KZ1000 engines. Speed eluded him for weeks. Scored some high speed gears and clutch parts salvaged from World War II aircraft at neighboring Wendover Airforce Base. Inside 4 days they’d pushed the streamliner to two record-breaking runs. 315.441 and 318.598. mph. Stood nearly 12 years.


Don Vesco. Current custodian of the ‘Wheel Driven Labd Speed Record’ at 458.196 mph over 1 km … 470.444 mph over 1 mile. RIP.


the turbinator … lsr: 458.196 mph/1 km … vesco rulz


 Riches/Nelson E-bike LSR  (176.434 mph)… Lightning Bolt: Streamliner



XS650: Cagers   2 comments

Well. Got reminded just how mortal we all are. Again.

It’s now 01.30 here and I’ve just got in. Been at the local hospital since 18.00 yesterday. With my son. He’s 4. And just started developing a distaste for cagers. If the hydrocarbon economy survives long enough he will make a good biker. A natural.

He got run over. Twice. Before my eyes. Our mate Eddy had just given him a digger. He was sitting quietly in the hof playing with a pile of stones. Picking them up and putting them down. One of the lockup renters reversed over him then drove forwards over him again. And didn’t stop. Never saw him. Didn’t look. Claimed not to have heard his screams. Nor my yelling.

Had my mate deal with the cager while I sorted my boy. Didn’t trust myself not to do something that’d compromise my freedom.

We are lucky. He’s young. Flexible. Bones still soft enough not to break. Unbelieveably proud of him. How he fought against the desire to cry and the need to explain to the doctor what happened. Bottom lip a little wobbly, no tears.

It’s a wierd feeling. Observing, yet knowing you’re unable to alter the inevitable outcome. Reminds me of that ‘Oh no, here we go again feeling’. Just before impact.

So. What’s this got to do with XS650s?

2 things.

  • ‘Never saw him. Didn’t look’. How often have you had to deal with this as a rider? You either learn to read the road and think for others or you die. Same for kids. Traffic accidents, especially bicycles vs cages, are one of the biggest killers.
  • My emotions are XSive and I can think of at least 650 ways to deal with this.

I have a mate. Top bloke. Tongan Maori. World class cook. One of my kids is named after him. He once gave me a good bit of advice. Has saved my ass many times. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Take care out there.

Posted August 5, 2011 by xscafe in Uncategorized