Short Chop

Article & Photos By: Joshua Elzey

Originally Published In The January 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

The 1980 Yamaha XS650 was rotting away in the woods behind a friend of Jay Souza’s house. Jay decided to see how much life was still l e f t in the old bike but needed to remove all the massive spiders in the air box and dirt with a hose first. Jay was super pumped that it fired up after throwing some gas and mystery oil down the cylinders! The hardest part came when he dragged the bike out of the woods. It had frozen calipers and a crusty chain but with help from friends Ange and Froh they made it out into the light again. Jay had been in search of another motorcycle ever since his ironhead blew up so this would be the perfect project to get him ripping down the streets this summer. There was a clean title and because it had been nothing but a lawn ornament, Jay struck a deal that included him helping to clean up some of his friend’s yard and then he took the Yamaha home.

Jay had a major interest of the Indonesian Chopper scene and how they could just make something super cool with a small CC motor, however, he still liked a lot of the triumphs and digger Honda’s seen via the interweb. Although he would always have a love for the slab shovel, Jay was excited to build something different and refreshing yet still short, loud, and clean. Having started out like most everyone else, Jay had an XR80 when he was 12 and had been hooked ever since on everything from Harley’s to dirt bikes. Forever Two Wheels! Using the knowledge he’d gathered over time Jay took on building this bike to the best of his ability with show quality and detail in mind. It was time to mash all his ideas of style, paint, and design to show off his taste in motorcycles.

He used a stash of parts he’d been collecting over time as well as some parts that were hanging from the wall waiting for a project, he did not have yet it so was time  to see what would be useful on this build. The bike was stripped down in his garage with the help of his dad, which always provides for memorable family bonding. Many of the parts he planned to use from his collection were obtained from your typical swap meet finds and just needed some modification. Stock parts were installed with all the extra stuff cut off and cleaned up. Jay paid attention to detail from front to back making everything aesthetically pleasing while trying not to go to fancy. The stock 1980’s frame was cut in half that leading to Jay getting his first welder. The frame was given a two-inch stretch with a three-inch drop before the painful experience of molding with speed holes began. The cutting, grinding, sanding, bondo, and painting process took forever but was well worth it. Jay’s father painted everything with GM white and Didspade teal/violet fusion pea. Chainay Custom Pinstriping followed up with graphics.

His father and Weston of Counter Balance Cycles, which used Pademonum Choppers Ya Mama exhaust, addressed the engine. In the meantime, Jay managed to wreck and rebuild his first transmission. Polished and shaved stock forks were installed with shaved triple trees over a 21” Harley narrowglide wheel wrapped in Avon. Jay laced this wheel as well as the 16” rear wheel that was going under the Lanesplitter fat boy fender for a new tough experience.

The taillights on the fender were homemade with a Biltwell cluster. Weston came thru on upholstery and the motorcycle was ready to see daylight again. The project itself was a ride from start to finish as Jay learned a lot from the ol’ man giving insight to what he liked doing or hated extremely. Jay also learned that building something from nothing is not an easy task, as one tends to go one-step forward then three steps back. However, taking a piece of metal with an idea and giving it a function is rewarding. Once the bike fired up Jay was thrilled at how the bike turned out! He is currently getting ready to head to the Catskill Mountains for a camping trip with his supporting fiancé Trisha Kerr.


Fab. By: Jay Souza / Jr. Souza (dad)


Make/Model: Yamaha XS650

Value: not much

Time: Couple New England Winters


Year: 1980

Model: XS650

Builder: Dad/CounterBalance Cycles

Ignition: CDI

Displacement: Stock

Pistons: Stock

Heads: Stock

Carb: Mikuni BS34

Cam: Sloppy Stock

Air Cleaner: UNI Pods

Exhaust: Pandemonium Choppers

Primary: Stock


Year: 1970 Something

Make: XS650

Shifting: one down-four up


Year: 1980 Front Section

Make: Factory MetalWorks hardtail

Rake: Stock

Stretch: 2” Stretch 3” Drop


Type: Stock

Builder: Jay Souza


Triple Trees: Shaved

Wheels, Tires, Brakes

Front Wheel: Harley narrowglide

Size: 21”

Front Tire: Avon Speedaster

Front Brake: Na

Rear Wheel: Harley Shovelhead

Size: 16”

Rear Tire: Shinko Classic

Rear Brake: Harley Dyna modified


Paint: Thanks Dad

Color/Type: GM White

Graphics: Chainay Custom Pinstriping

Molding: Jay Souza/Jr. Souza

Polished/Chroming: Jay Souza


Bars: Grade 8 Cycle & Speed

Risers: Biltwell Slimlines

Hand Controls: MSR Clutch, Biltwell Whiskey

Fuel Tanks: Lowbrow Hi-Tunnel

Front Fender: Bandana

Rear Fender: Lanesplitter/Harley Fat Boy

Seat: CounterBalance Cycles

Foot Controls: Swap Meet/DIY Mids

Oil Tank: Round Electronics

Headlight: FLH spotlight

Taillight: Homemade


photographer: Josh Elzey

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