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A Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame? Ja bitte!

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
After cataloging the greatest custom builds in the world for over a decade, we’re often tempted to think we’ve seen it all. But we’d be wrong, because there’s always something new or interesting around the corner.

This creation from Germany made us pause, though. A ground-up scrambler build, using a Velocette engine in a Yamaha XT frame? That’s some creative thinking (and craftsmanship) right there.

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
The bike might be unusual, but in many ways, Sven Brands is the stereotypical modern custom builder. Although he earns a living as a graphic designer, he spends every spare hour working on bikes—and in particular, old Brit iron.

“My approach is to build them up from bits, rather than modifying an existing bike,” he says. “I wouldn’t call it a hobby—it is a vital part of my life.”

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
Sven works under the name ‘Garage Brands’ and this project started about two years ago, when he spotted a Velocette MAC single cylinder engine for sale.

“It was offered on German eBay. The seller told me it had been used in vintage speedway racing in East Germany. So I purchased it on behalf of my friend Bernd Meyer, as a decoration/object for his desk!”

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
The MAC engine is undeniably pretty: a 349cc unit that powered Velocette’s post-War commuter bike to a surprisingly rapid 75 mph (121 kph).

The engine was ‘stuck’ when Sven got his hands on it, so he took it apart and did a top end rebuild. Then plans changed when he accidentally discovered an abandoned Yamaha XT600 frame—hidden in a dark corner of his community workshop in Ostkreuz, part of the former East Berlin district of Friedrichshain.

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
“I started dreaming,” he recalls. “Why not turn the XT frame and Velocette engine, into a ‘bitsa,’ using the boxes of leftover parts from my previous Brit bike builds?”

Bernd was also exited by the idea, so Sven got working on the ‘XT-CETTE.’ He documented and shared each step of the process via Facebook, so although Bernd was located in Darmstadt, he could be involved in the process and give his input.

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
As you can imagine, there’s quite a bit of work needed to fit a Velocette engine into a Yamaha frame, and also balance out the handling. “The essential mods included shortening the frame by cutting off the rear loop, and cutting out the front cross tube that also acts as a head steady,” says Sven.

“I replaced it with two homemade plates to allow the MAC engine to fit. The stock XT engine bracket holds the engine at the front, but custom-made plates secure the engine and gearbox at the rear.”

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
The bike also features a set of very classy modified Norton forks. “To fit them, I machined two rings on the lathe and pressed them into the Yamaha steering head column to accept the smaller diameter Norton bearings,” Sven reveals.

“The fork itself is a mix and match of Roadholder and Commando fork parts.”

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
The rear suspension required a bit of lateral thinking too. “The swingarm comes from a Yamaha XT250, with alloy spacers machined up to compensate for the too-narrow width.” The two 12.9-inch shocks, tucked under the seat, are Girling replicas built by Emgo.

Sven must have a quite extraordinary of old bike parts, because the wheels are from a 1980s Armstrong MT500 military bike—along with the Grimeca front drum brake—and the rear brake is mix of Armstrong/Grimeca and German MZ 250 parts (“which surprisingly fitted with just a bit of filing here and there”).

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame
The fuel tank is a modified prewar NSU fitment and the gearbox is an old AMC item (as used on Norton, Matchless and AJS bikes). But the oil tank, seat, primary-case and exhaust are all custom made.

The Velocette is now ready to be shipped to its new home in Bernd’s garage, and Sven is now working on a new project—a Norton featherbed special powered by a Vincent Comet single. A little more conventional…but equally intriguing.

Garage Brands website

XT-CETTE: A scrambler with a Velocette MAC engine in a Yamaha XT600 frame

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