A retro-inspired, short wheelbase, 264-lb motard…
The Yamaha XT600 was the successor to one of our favorite enduros of all-time, the legendary XT500. Introduced for the 1983 model year, the XT600E offered a 44-hp four-valve engine, along with improvements such as disc brakes, electric start, and a rear monoshock. The XT600 was a more powerful, modern, and “better” motorcycle, though it didn’t have quite the same character, beauty, and spirit of its predecessor — the fate of many successors to iconic machines.
Enter François and Eric of Motocyclettes Artisanales Minimalistes (M.A.M.), located in Ladevèze-Ville, Midi-Pyrenees, France. The two have been friends for some 25 years — since boyhood — and with their workshop, they seek to find their way back to the true, traditional heart of motorcycling:
“MAM project proposes to come back to what is most important (in our point of view): a beautiful bike, efficient and light, not only an exhibition object.”
They are inspired by such timeless designs as the AC Cobra, whose beauty and emotion endures the test of time undiminished. For this build, they took the motorcycles of the 1970s — especially the XT500 — as their inspiration. They spent more than 800 hours on this build, creating nearly everything from scratch, including the bespoke aluminum bodywork and the very frame itself — only the engine remains intact from the original 1983 XT600E donor bike!
The result is one of the most beautiful, functional customs we’ve seen — a retro-inspired, short wheelbase, 264-pound motard that begs to shoot down the backroads and through the countryside. Below, we get the full story on the build from François himself, along with some incredible photos courtesy of Götz Göppert / Moto Heroes.
Yamaha XT600E Motard: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Motorcycle is our passion since many years (37 and 34 years). Eric practiced rather off-road. We are friends since a long time (25 years) and we have the same tastes. MAM project proposes to come back to what is most important (in our point of view): a beautiful bike, efficient and light, not only an exhibition object. We propose to design and produce specific parts and original bodywork in any style desired by the customer. We believe that design is successful when it is not just a fad, when many years later the emotion is always there (AC Cobra for example in the field of cars).
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The engine of this bike is a Yamaha 600 XTE 1983, everything else is a creation (including frame) or adaptation.
• Why was this bike built?
It’s a company promotion. This project required 800 hours of work and 10,000 Euros of budget.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
This project is an expression of motorcycles from the 70s (especially 500 XT).
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The frame, tanks (2 in aluminum like all the bodywork), exhaust pipe, air box, seat, back of front fender, engine tuning, adaptation suspension and swing arm, electricity and many finishing details. In other words, this bike is definitively a prototype.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
We call her “la mini-moto” due to its measurements: wheelbase 1340 mm, 120 kg…
• How would you classify this bike?
This bike is against current. Nothing is like her.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The final result! This bike is small, very well balanced and very fun to use.