Fifty Four XS

Originally Published In The October-November 202o Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

This month’s Dennis Kirk Garage Build is brought to you by a fantastic builder from across the ocean in The Netherlands! Martin Van Geenen is 46 years old and hails from a small village called Den Hoorn with his wife Ingenborg, their son, Jack, and their Chihuahua, Fred. Though his days are spent working as an aircraft engineer for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Martin has always held a deep love for anything on two wheels and has been riding since he was 26. Martin is also the only person in his family that rides a motorcycle, his parents don’t even own a car! When he bought his third bike, a custom ‘75 Yamaha XS650, everyone kept asking him if he built it himself, which he didn’t (but may as well have with all the times he had to take it apart after it breaking down). After that, it was decided he would build his own!

With some serious online research, he bought the donor bike for around  750 Euros (roughly $880USD) and immediately took the entire thing apart. Martin then asked a local shop to build him a weld-on hardtail that matched his specs. A year later, that portion of the bike was done! After deliberation Van Geenen decided that the rear section of the bike was too wide, so he had a new rear axle made as well. Once those two obstacles were overcome, he just started building with no real plan in mind, save for some inspiration he had found online, and the fact that he wanted a simple, bobber-like motorcycle.

Several parts were purchased during trips to the US when he was visiting for either work or vacation. It should also be known that Martin built this entire bike in his living room! Everything from painting the engine to welding the bungs and brackets was all done inside. Luckily his wife is both patient and forgiving. Oftentimes, the house smelled of paint or gasoline, and there were burn marks on his wooden floor from where he had been welding. The paint job was done by a friend of his who had also painted a helmet of his before the project. The idea came from one of his son’s toy cars, sort of a NASCAR inspired design.

For Martin, the most challenging part of this build was finding a way to mount the rear brake since the original mount was on the section that he had cut off. His solution? He stumbled across a conrod that was lying around, and it just so happened to be 20mm exactly. So, he used it as a pivot point for the pedal, made a mount for the master, and boom.  It was done. In the end, this build took 4 years on and off, evenings, and night work only. With the exception of having some aspects of the bike done at professional shops like powder coating and frame modifications, this entire bike was built by himself, no outside help or hands.

This little XS is definitely a rider, sunny days only, and you can tell from the dirt on its tank that it’s well-loved. For his next build, Martin is working on a ‘74 Shovel, which is going to turn into an old school bagger. It’ll be a lot more expensive for him though, as the prices for parts are much higher in Europe. Based on what he did with this vintage Yamaha, we hope he shares his next project with us too. Martin would like to give a special thanks to his wife for putting up with all of the bad smells and burns in the house, Erwin Stok, for his welding expertise, Floris Velthuis, for the fantastic pictures, and Martijn Krabman for the incredible paint job.


Owner: Martijn van Geenen

City/State: Delft ZH, Netherlands

Builder: Martijn van Geenen

Year: 1978/2016

Model: Yamaha XS650 SE

Value: 6500 Euro

Time: 4 years


Year: 1978

Model: XS650 3L1

Builder: Martijn van Geenen

Ignition: Vape Power Dynamo

Displacement: 653cc

Pistons: Stock

Heads: Stock

Carb: Mikuni VM 36 Round Slide / WiseGuys

Choppers 2into1 Bobber Intake

Cam: Stock

Aircleaner: 62mm Go-kart

Exhaust: Pandemonium Ya Mamma Pipes

Primary: Stock


Year: 1978

Make: Stock Yamaha

Shifting: Stock, left foot

Chain Tensioner: Powell Peralta Bolt-on

Skateboard Wheel


Year: 1978

Model: XS650 SE Handmade hard

tail welded on. 4”

stretch:, 2” Drop

Rake: Stock

Stretch: 4”


Builder: Martijn van Geenen

Type: Stock

Triple trees: Stock

Extension: Shortened 2”


Front wheel: Stock19” Powder Coated

Tire: Bridgestone Battlax BT45

Front brake: Stock Modified Polished

Rear wheel: Stock 16”Powder Coated

Tire: Bridgestone Battlax BT45

Rear brake: Stock Modified Powder Coated


Powder Coated Chinchilla Grey


Chroming: All Polished Aluminium


Bars: Dragbar

Risers: Biltwell Slimline polished


Hand controls: Suzuki M1800 Intruder

Foot Controls: Custom Rear Brake & Pedal Pivot

Gas tank: Harley-Davidson Sporty

Oil tank: Moon Eyes Chopper Oil Tank

Front fender: None.

Rear fender: Led Sled Customs

Seat: Biltwell Solo Tuck ‘n Roll

Headlight: EBay

Tail light: Model T Ford

Speedo: EBay

Photographer: Floris Velthuis

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