Dirty Geisha: Maria Motorcycles XT600

A funky, high-steppin' Yamaha XT600 custom from Portugal's Maria Motorcycles.

Turning old dualies into retro customs is all the rage lately. We’re not complaining—done right, the results are sharp looking, easy-going bikes.

The process comes with challenges: Most thumpers built in the ’80s and ’90s celebrated function over form. They’re delightfully utilitarian, but that means builders have to contend with clumsy bodywork and awkward lines.

A funky, high-steppin' Yamaha XT600 custom from Portugal's Maria Motorcycles.
That’s why Maria Motorcycles almost didn’t take on this particular project, a 1992 Yamaha XT600. “It’s one of the most common bikes here in Portugal,” says Maria’s Luis Correia, “but definitely a very difficult base to work on.”

Correia and his crew decided to fuse the vibe of old, small-capacity city bikes with the go-anywhere attitude of a dual-sport. Their first hurdle was the XT600’s asymmetrical, oil-carrying frame. Working around it, they managed to fabricate a new subframe and reroute the exhaust headers—adding a Spark muffler in the process.

A funky, high-steppin' Yamaha XT600 custom from Portugal's Maria Motorcycles.
After much effort, they also managed to fit an old Honda CB360 fuel tank. Right behind it is a hand-made seat, wrapped in leather. The electrics and a Lithium-ion battery are tucked away in a custom-made aluminum box underneath.

The motor’s been stripped, rebuilt and repainted entirely in black. Maria also lowered the forks and installed a Hagon spring kit, and re-laced both wheels. The front has dropped in size from 21” to 18”—giving the XT a little more visual balance.

A funky, high-steppin' Yamaha XT600 custom from Portugal's Maria Motorcycles.
A tidier headlight, taillight and speedo, and a set of vintage enduro-style handlebars round off the package. The tires are Heidenau K60s—a popular choice among dual-sport riders.

Most of the XT600’s finishes are dark and subtle, but Maria couldn’t resist adding a splash of color. “Most people see it as a dirty and aggressive bike,” says Luis, “but the lollipop color of the tank suggests the lovely curves of bikes like Vespas.”

A funky, high-steppin' Yamaha XT600 custom from Portugal's Maria Motorcycles.
“That’s why we’ve named it the ‘Dirty Geisha': a beautiful and elegant girl crossed with a rough, all-terrain truck!”

As for the dash of orange on the headlight: that was added just for kicks.

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A funky, high-steppin' Yamaha XT600 custom from Portugal's Maria Motorcycles.