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.
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.
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 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.”
“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.