Sometimes the best place to look for guidance is much closer than you think. Outside influences are good when dealing with the unknown, but more often closing your eyes and looking deep within can lead to greatness, at least self-proclaimed. Mikey Santoro is the son of the famous Mad Mike from Spitfire Motorcycles and has someway been involved with two wheels since he was a kid. After years of wrenching on other people’s bikes, the time had come for him to build one for himself…his way.
It’s not everyday that you see a chopped-up Yamaha XS 650. Mikey explains where the idea to use this unique powerplant came from. “Everyone at the shop is into Panheads, Shovelheads, and Sportsters. No one was messing with them really, at least at our shop. A skateboarder showed up with one and we did it all up for him. It sounded really nice so I found a good deal on a motor and got one for myself. I’ve been messing with the bike on and off for like two years with fabrication and deciding what I wanted to do. A lot of the parts we build at Spitfire started coming out so I wanted to hold off. I also have a couple of kids so shit gets put on the backburner. The build time only took like two weeks after I had everything back from chrome and stuff like that. As far as the design, I did whatever I thought was cool. My dad is my boss and I would ask him ‘What do you think about this or that?’ and he we would be like, ‘Why are you asking me? Just do it!’” Mikey said with a laugh.
Turns out XS 650 motors are not that easy to come by. It took a bunch of phone calls for Mikey to locate the perfect one for his build. “By the time I got the motor, those bikes had gotten real popular. I found the motor through a friend of a friend. He said he had a motor that was blown up for like $250. The motor was out of a Denver Chopper and the guy didn’t want to sell the roller just the motor. The guy said it was blown and the top end was all apart. What happen was they took the timing chain apart and it wrapped around the crankshaft. So I just pulled the timing chain out and everything was fine. Can you believe that?”
With the all the pieces of the puzzle in place, it was time to get to work. And work Mikey did designing, building, or fabricating nearly every single nut, bolt, and part on this bike. “I fabbed as much of it as I could. None of the stuff on the bike is stock. From the motor mounts to the exhaust flanges I built. I even took the head apart and reseated the valves myself. I took the old vintage taillight and put a Moon Eyes pig in it. I went as far down to the manifold, bars, air cleaner, frontend, and one-off girder. I touched everything on that bike. The only thing I didn’t do was the lace the wheels.”
Some of the more unique pieces are the intake manifold that extends to the side of the bike. When asked where the inspiration for it came, Mikey explained, “I saw a guy on YouTube that was running an S&S E carb on his XS so I was thinking I could get a dirt bike carb that was the same cc as one of those. As far as the manifold, if you look at a Honda car, it is the same way.”
The XS might be lost in the crowd of Japanese customs had it not been for the paintwork by Casey at Headcase Kustom Art. “I never had intentions of going this far with it. I was just going to leave it all rusty and ratty. Casey hit me up and asked if I wanted to paint it and took my tins. When he was finished he brought the paint to my house. He was basically like, ‘This is what you got. Do you like it?’ I was like, “Yeah.’”
The end result is a unique one-off custom that combines a little bit of the traditional way of building mixed in with a whole lot of personal touches. Mikey is a prime example of the new generation of builders that borrows from the past and creates new trends for the future. “I would like to thank Paul at Spitfire, my dad Mad Mike, and Casey.”