UNIK Edition Motorcycles
UNIK Edition Custom Motorcycles in Lisbon, Portugal is known for a wide range of interesting builds. As a matter of fact, they do more than just building custom bikes. With a full-blown workshop and an official dealership, they truly are a jack of all trades. One of their latest projects is based on the Yamaha XT 600E from 1998. The Yamaha was chosen by the owner, who is a good friend of the craftsmen. She loves the XT, and owns in fact two of them. It is not hard to see why.
A step back in time
In the past 5 years we have only covered builds that were based on a Yamaha XT. Far too little if you ask us. It is one of Yamaha’s biggest success stories and an absolute Paris-Dakar legend. Yamaha introduced the first XT, the XT500, in 1976 with a 500cc single cylinder air-cooled engine. It was known for its tractor-like torque and power delivery. The XT also had a reputation of being absolutely bulletproof. In 1982 and 1983, a lesser known XT550 was produced. In 1983 the XT600 emerged on the market, and had the tough task to continue the legacy its predecessor created. And oh boy did it deliver…
Sold from 1983 till 2003 (30 years!) in a myriad of forms, the XT600 was rightfully a success number for Yamaha. Sure, somewhere in the late 1990s the competition was starting to catch-up, think of KTM, BMW, and Suzuki, but Yamaha kept on pushing through. You could get one with a large safari-style fuel tank, kick start, electric start, or both. It was immensely popular with “overlanders”, motorcycle world-travellers, because of its simplicity and reliability. Towards the end of its career though, it had lost some of its oomph due to stricter emission legislation, and the quality of fit and finish started to deteriorate as well. It is the last of the true air-cooled big displacement single cylinders from Yamaha.
Blast from the past
The guys at UNIK decided to do a tribute to the Yamaha YZ’s and Bultaco Enduro machines from the 1970s. On the surface, it looks like they did an amazing job. The Yamaha vintage moto-cross look has a beautiful white paint scheme with red details. A long and sleek fuel tank, and custom-made side racing number plates, finished off with a round old-school enduro headlight complete with number plate as well. Road-legal and ready for use.
Trail and enduro bikes can be a bit intimidating in terms of seat height. It doesn’t help that the owner isn’t really tall herself. So, changes had to be made to accommodate for a user-friendly seat-height. The rear suspension got shortened with a different set of dog-bones, and the front 21” wheel got replaced to a 19” unit. This lowered the stance of the XT significantly. The rear subframe got chopped off and mended with a rear loop, allowing for the rear mudguard to go underneath it, just like the old Yamaha CT-1 175. Preston Petty fenders and headlight cover were used for the period correct feel. Old style MX grips combined with chrome controls, and chrome handlebars were also use for that same reason.
To complete the build, a simple but good-looking black leather seat was added. We have seen the Arrow exhaust before, often on Scramblers. We have to say that it fits this XT really well. Another detail is the number “133” on the side number plates. This refers to the owner’s child racing number. It is no surprise that this XT is an easy bike to ride. According to UNIK, it is very nimble and agile in the city with low end and mid range grunt, pulling really good from the bottom all the way to highway speed and beyond if needed.