The XS model has been a pretty iconic vintage bike to build a custom with. We saw a boom in the mid 2000's with XS650 bobbers and choppers. Now it seem's like the XS is making a comeback with trackers, scramblers and cafe racers. Columbus native Derek Horton of Electric Soul Cycles recently finished up this awesome build for a customer and we had to hear more about it!
Let's start with the basics, what's your name and where are you located?
My name is Derek Horton and I own Electric Soul Motorcycles in Columbus Ohio.
Electric Soul has been official for about a year now. I built my first motorcycle with my sister over the summer while in college, but we both started chopping up bicycles when we were 14. It's crazy to think that I've been cutting and welding two wheeled things for 16 years now.
This bike is an XS650. I think it's a 75 or 76? I can't remember exactly.
Evan brought a general vision and some parts he had stockpiled, like the seat, headlight, and bars. There was a lot of room for creativity within his vision, and I appreciate that. All the little accents like the side covers, headlight nacelle, and bash guard were developed as the build progressed.
This bike had been sitting for some time when it came into the shop. It kicked over but didn't run and was missing a few parts. It was full on pulled-out-of-a-basement project level.
Inspiration comes from so many places it can be hard to pin down sometimes. Evan wanted something with tracker/scrambler vibes and a lot of the design seemed to happen organically. I like that this bike could look at home in a variety of environments. It's grittiness lends itself to city streets and alleys, open desert, or a weekend at the track. It's the kind of bike that looks good dirtied up a bit.
I think it's just the versatility mentioned above. Stylish versatility.
This thing looks like a blast to ride, We're you able to get out on it and blast around when it was finished?
It is a lot of fun. I love how nasty these 650s sound, and they beg to be thrown around. Elbows up, counter balancing around town on it will put a smile on your face for sure.
I'm still learning from this one. I hadn't worked on many XS650s before this one, and have gained experience on a few more since. The Mikuni CV carbs on these can be finicky to tune and vary quite a bit internally throughout the years. I had some issues dialing these in that still need to be addressed.
I have a Buell Blast in the works. I'm excited because it's my own pet project and I'm using the freedom allotted by that to learn and apply some of my engineering background to it's design and execution. Lately I've been really inspired by bikes rooted in purpose and function. I'm not so much into definitions of style that can pigeon-hole projects before they start. I want this Buell to be a riot. I don't want it's looks to be rooted in anything other than provoking excitement based on what people imagine doing on it.
I'd like to thank my sister, Evie. Last summer was hectic and without her help I wouldn't have been able to do it. I'd also like to thank the Columbus motorcycling community. It's big and diverse and not what I expected moving here from the east coast. People can find me on Instagram @electricsoulcycles and my website is www.electric-soul.com. Books are open for fabrication and custom builds.