For an ‘amateur’ builder, Maarten Poodt is pretty hard on himself. The Dutchman aims for a factory-level finish on every project he completes.
So when an internet commenter questioned whether his last bike was a true custom build—or a collection of bolt-on parts—Maarten saw rood.
“He was infuriated by the comment,” explains photographer Mark Meisner. “So there was only one thing to do: Build a whole new bike around an engine!”
Maarten has two guidelines for his builds. He only ever works on Yamahas, and nearly always models that are hard to come by in The Netherlands.
For this project he sourced an early 80s Yamaha XT550 enduro bike, removed the engine, and threw just about everything else in the bin.
The frame you’re looking at is all-new, constructed from chromoly steel.
The same goes for the eye-catching girder front end—which uses a pair of adjustable wheelchair shocks for damping.
Tucked into the frame are two handmade, stainless steel tanks—for fuel and oil. There’s some trick plumbing at play too: oil is fed from its tank through the frame itself.
Out back, there’s a custom seat and pan. Since the rear end is rigid, Maarten’s borrowed another wheelchair shock to suspend the seat and make the ride a little more pliant.
The wiring’s been redone, with everything stashed in the seat or the headlight, which is a modified Kreidler Florett unit. Maarten’s sunk an aftermarket speedo in there, and installed a Bates-style taillight out back.
For the wheels, Maarten rebuilt the original 21” front with new spokes. He then sourced another 21” rim, and laced it to the stock rear hub.
Both have been powder coated blue and fitted with whitewalls, and both are still sporting drum brakes.
Naturally the engine and twin Mikuni carbs have been rebuilt too, and there’s a custom intake hooked up to a K&N filter originally designed for a Land Rover. A simple exhaust pipe from RVS wraps around the engine.
Hidden inside the exhaust is a small dB killer to take the edge off. And the little ‘heat shields’ are more sentimental than functional: they’re plates out of Maarten’s shoulder and collarbone.
“He crashed and got two plates fixed inside him,” says Mark. “Then he crashed again, and new plates had to be inserted during surgery. Now he’s learnt, and doesn’t race any more!”
The other custom parts are a little more orthodox. There’s a license plate holder that extends past the rear wheel, and is removable via a couple of bolts. And the handlebars are one-offs, capped off with Domino grips and gorgeous Ural reverse levers.
The finishes are simple. A matte grey powder coat on the frame dominates what’s left of this XT550, punctuated by brass accents—from the homemade rearsets to the frame bolts.
Anyone still got any doubts about Maarten’s abilities?
Images by Mark Meisner, who also brought us the story.