The Yamaha XS650 Zagalote Is More Stylish Than Words Could Ever Begin To Describe

Yamaha XS650 Zagalote 10 photos
Photo: Maria Riding Company
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It’s no secret that custom bike builders love vintage UJMs, as this has been the case for many years by now. One of the most common models you’ll see projects based on is the Yamaha XS650, boasting all the charm and reliability associated with classic Japanese motorcycles. It may not have as many cylinders as a Honda CB750 or a Kawasaki Z1, but it does take to customization like a duck to water.
The guys at Maria Riding Company (MRC) over in Portugal are particularly fond of this platform, and their first custom build from many years ago was in fact an XS650. Luis Correia and his squad have come a very long way since then, garnering plenty of public attention as they went along and never stopping to rest on their laurels. We’ve talked about MRC’s work on many occasions and will gladly continue to do so whenever we get the chance.

Pictured above these paragraphs is a build they’ve completed back in 2018, something of a spiritual successor to their very first bike. Dubbed Zagalote, it’s based on a 1980 variant of Yamaha’s XS650 lineup, which had been lying around Maria’s shop for some time. When a client expressed interest in buying it fully customized, the old-school Yammie finally made its way onto the workbench.

It being mechanically sound meant that MRC could focus mostly on the cosmetic side of things, but they didn’t plan on modifying the UJM beyond recognition. A fair chunk of factory equipment was therefore retained, and the air-cooled 653cc parallel-twin motor is virtually unchanged on the inside. With low mileage and 50 ponies on tap, Maria’s specialists were happy to leave it as it was.

They simply wrapped its lower covers in a layer of satin-black paint, while powder-coating items such as the wheels and frame for an ultra-clean look. Although the original forks, shock absorbers, and brakes are still present, they’ve all been thoroughly refurbished to look and perform as if they were brand-new. On the other hand, the MRC crew sought to drastically reduce the XS650’s visual mass at the back.

Yamaha XS650 Zagalote
Photo: Maria Riding Company
In order to make this happen, they shortened the subframe and had its rearmost section looped, before topping everything off with a gorgeous saddle. The custom seat is upholstered in brown leather and stitched together with white thread. Right beneath it lies a bespoke electronics box made of aluminum, placed where the original airbox had once been to partially fill the subframe triangle.

Among the items stored inside is a compact lithium-ion battery connected to fresh wiring. Zagalote’s rear end carries a pair of aftermarket LED turn signals, too, fitted nice and close to the upper shock mounts. The license plate lives down low on a swingarm-mounted bracket, which is also home to a modern taillight. All this paraphernalia is located on the left-hand side.

Zagalote still makes use of the stock fuel tank, but its cockpit area features an abundance of fresh goodies from various aftermarket suppliers. The handlebar was provided by LSL, and it carries brown Posh grips, minimalistic switches, and a Magura front brake master cylinder. Replacement control levers also make an appearance, yet there are no rear-view mirrors in sight.

Yamaha XS650 Zagalote
Photo: Maria Riding Company
MRC added a small analog speedometer right in front of the handlebar, while using tailor-made mounting hardware to install a new headlamp. We spot LED blinkers attached to the lower triple clamp – a much nicer pair than the chunky stock units. Other cool additions include youthful spark plug leads and braided stainless-steel brake lines, with the latter coming from HEL’s inventory. The rims are cloaked in Firestone Deluxe Champion rubber front and back.

Even though the XS650’s powertrain is internally unaltered, Luis and his accomplices did replace its breathing equipment. Top-grade K&N pod filters have been placed on the intake side of things, and they’re complemented by a custom stainless-steel exhaust system built from scratch. The headers run into cylindrical slash-cut mufflers, which end high up on each side of the leather seat.

Now, the last thing we need to talk about is the color scheme adorning Zagalote’s fuel tank and headlight bucket. Maria Riding Co. used a greyish shade of green as the base hue, topping it off with white detailing on the tank. This livery is a perfect match for the brown leather seat and grips, thus rounding out the MRC treatment in style.

The Portuguese bike-modding gurus at this shop never fail to impress, and they’ve clearly put all their skills to work on this extraordinary XS650. It may not be among their most complex undertakings, but a good custom motorcycle doesn’t have to be overly complicated in order to stand out. As you can imagine, Maria’s client was thrilled to see what they’ve managed to pull off, just like most people out there would be.
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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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