Despite the long winter nights and unforgiving climate, Sweden has a thriving custom industry. It’s what we’d call an ‘underground chopper’ scene—with the most famous graduate being BMW designer Ola Stenegärd.
But there’s a new wave of modern alt-moto builders coming through, and at the forefront is the small Stockholm shop 6/5/4 Motors. Their bikes are beautifully finished and fun to ride—like this thoroughly revamped Yamaha XT500.
“The XT500 is one of our favorite old school bikes,” says 6/5/4 co-founder Johan. “Even in stock form, it’s a really cool looking motorcycle.”
So the lads bought themselves an XT500, intending to use it as a weekend shredder in the forests around Stockholm. But they couldn’t keep their dirty hands off it—and soon the first mod was done.
And as we all know, once that line is crossed, there’s no turning back. “We decided to keep it as an ‘in-between-projects project’ and work on it when we needed a break from the other builds.”
“That’s why it basically took us forever to complete.”
Johan and the crew wanted to keep the original spirit of the bike, but push it in a more contemporary direction—with some minor geometrical facelifts, and a weight reduction program.
“We wanted to make it look snappier and more virile. And make it run as well as it looks.”
Production of the XT500 ended in 1981, so the engine was due for a thorough overhaul. It’s also been fitted with a SuperTrapp muffler, and a foam Uni filter in place of the airbox.
The airflow is improved, and the engine has been tuned to suit.
The old 6-volt wiring is all gone, replaced by a new harness and a modern 12-volt system. Switching to 12 volts also meant that a battery eliminator could be fitted—and the heavy stock battery dumped.
Juice is now fed to a compact four-inch headlight, with new blinkers and an LED taillight strip to match.
There’s a tiny speedo just ahead of the bars, new levers and grips, and even tinier switchgear. (It’s from a new Swedish outfit called Combmaker and made from high-grade aluminum.)
To reduce the conspicuous overhang at the back, 6/5/4 have trimmed ten centimeters (four inches) from the back of the frame, and it’s made a world of difference to the stance.
There’s a new seat, finished in velvety black Nubuck leather—with ample proportions and an authentic retro shape. The stock rear fender has been shortened to match.
The paint is low-key and sympathetic to the era: A dark grey frame, and matte black for the engine and exhaust, rear fender, the headlight surround and the swing arm.
The stripe of vivid yellow over the raw aluminum tank is inspired. Look closer, and you’ll notice that 6/5/4 have created their own version of the classic XT logo—but this time reading ‘XT654.’
No sooner was the bike finished than the inevitable happened: A visitor to the workshop made an offer for it. “We decided to go with the offer. We no longer had the nerve to wreck this perfect, shiny-looking thing in the forest anymore.”
Their customer has no such qualms, though. He’s a Swedish actor and radio host, and he’s promised to do what 6/5/4 couldn’t—go rough with it.
Although XT654 is now gone from the garage, it’s left Johan and his colleagues with an even stronger urge to go on muddy weekend trips to the forest.
So they’re each building a ‘swamp toad’ right now, and those bikes will not be for sale. Or so they say…