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Yamaha XT600 – Nick van Woert


Posted on July 30, 2015 by Andrew in Scrambler. 27 comments

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Written by Martin Hodgson.

Stereotypes are dangerous things. When you get an artist from New York City send you pictures of his ride, you expect perhaps a Vespa. Or a Segway. Or, god forbid, a fixie. Well Nick van Woert not only owns this radical 1991 Yamaha XT600, he built the thing with his own hands. Stereotype destroyed. And speaking of destruction, a friend has given the bike the nickname “Woert Hog” an homage to both Nick’s name and another close quarter’s machine of demolition, the A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog.

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One of the first issues you face with the bulk of modern dirt and enduro bikes when it comes time for customisation is that the tanks are almost exclusively plastic, hidden behind more plastic covered in stickers. Perfectly fine for the job, but not a material you can easily shape or customise. To solve that Nick found some 16 gauge steel lying around his art studio and set to work fabricating a tank in just a day. Wanting to keep it simple and lay down as few welds as possible the tank takes on the appearance of a fold up cardboard box, only made out of armour like metal. Not only does the industrial look enhance the visuals the design yields stock fuel capacity without any airflow interruption to the engines cooling fins.

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The subframe Nick had already fabricated and this too dictated some of the tanks shape, but the design also allows for a bolt on/bolt off versatility unique to this machine. In a heartbeat the seat can be changed out for an enduro item, two up or even a long distance setup with racks and storage. The seat in the photos is a leather item perfect for the urban New York environment with leather work from Meccanica in Brooklyn.

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When it comes to building an Urban Assault Vehicle there is one area that simply cannot be compromised, as Nick would say “Suspension is everything!” Gone are the little XT forks for a modern set of Showa 47mm inverted units normally found on a Honda CRF 450R with 16 setting points of adjustment for rebound and dampening. While out the back hasn’t been left to wallow and dive with a new rear shock from the big guns at Works Performance. To give the bike the right look and improve the versatility of the handling the front rim is now entirely new and down to 18 inches and a new Sun rim laced to the stock hub for the rear.

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Lighting the roads and pointing to the next target is a headlight fashioned from a Hella driving light that has been mounted upside down to give a slim profile and allows for tight fitment into the fork space. Front turn signals are almost impossible to see until illuminated and are fashioned from tiny LED strips tied to 1/8th steel rod with grocery store bag wire. While the taillight is from James Crowe at West America that Nick slightly modified to hold the rear turn signals. Strafing the streets of NYC only requires minimal information to be returned to the rider and that job is taken care of by the ever popular Motogadget mini speedo.

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The big single thumper packs plenty of punch straight out of the box with 45bhp on tap and plenty of torque across the rev range. But who doesn’t want a little more power at their disposal, so the engine now sucks air direct from atmosphere by a more than visible velocity stack. The standard exhaust headers were then cut at the merge collector and modified to run a single pipe back under the seat giving the bike a very narrow appearance. Capping the end of the pipe work is a spring mounted Cone Engineering muffler that lets everyone in the neighbourhood know Nick is in the area; look before you cross the street!

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While the Military spec Warthog was like most defence procurements; drastically over budget and built with great delay. Nick’s custom XT was built without design, on budget and with each piece or modification completed in just a day. Even the tank and subframe were both completed in a single day each, a level of productivity almost unheard of in the automotive industry. Nick might own ten bikes of all shapes and sizes, but this is by far his favourite. Just don’t get in its way – it’s built to cut you down!

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[Photos by Julien Roubinet]








  • John Wanninger

    Looks rough, But it’s supposed to. I bet its an absolute blast and fast as hell. Interesting bike. A BMX on steroids if you will, and liquid filled gauges are cool too.

    • That’s first comment two nights in a row, John. I’m worried yr becoming a little obsessed… 😉

      • John Wanninger

        Night? Becoming??

        It was 6am here when I made that comment…

        Love this place, and you guys.

        • whytaylorwhy

          Aw shucks!

    • methamphetasaur

      Maybe he should have wrapped the pipe though?

      • John Wanninger

        Only if he wants to be more hated than a cowardly dentist lion killer 😉

        • methamphetasaur

          im afraid thats a reference that went right over my head. im not sure i saw that episode. i shall assume the cowardly denist is much hated though…

    • MayDayMoto

      the “liquid filled gauge” is actually a dipstick with a thermometer in it. universal part, I have one on my guzzi.

      • John Wanninger

        Ya… I’m familiar… I have one on my SR. It’s dry though. This one is filled with glycerine… Is the one for your Guzzi liquid filled also??

    • Aes Culpa

      “A bmx on steroids” Exactly what i thought !

  • Hardley T Whipsnade III

    I’m not entirely sure where you get your ‘ stereotype ‘ of the typical NYC rider but I can assure you its completely misinformed and wrong . Typically NYC M/C riders tend to build bikes along the lines of Road/Urban warriors . Some a bit more ‘ supermoto ‘ like this fine example , some more ‘ rat ‘ with more than a few urban assault chopper/bobbers as well as rice rockets , ADV’s and the odd tourer/bagger reconfigured for the rigors of NYC’s pot hole covered mean streets . Fact is you’ll see more M/C variety per mile in NYC than any other city in the World . Which makes sense when you take into account NYC is the greatest city in the World . Nice build by the way !

    • martin hodgson

      Hey Hardley T, I was referring to the NYC artist stereotype, Soho etc Not the NYC bike scene in general, which I agree is very very diverse.

    • arnold

      I agree, for a back yard mash up , it is as right as it can be.

  • whytaylorwhy

    Like the aggressive look of it all- especially that front fender and tank. I also dig that gas cap- it looks like a repurposed spigot handle or something?

  • Gedigedi

    I dig it, will look even better as it ages.

  • Grendel Medlord

    As the proud owner of an ’86 xt600, I’d say 45bhp might be a bit optimistic. His is probably in better tune than mine, and it is the next newer model, so he might be right. The bike is fun at hell though.

  • Jeff Butland

    Can we get some decent clear pictures of this beast? I get the artsy black/white deal, but I’d still like to actually see the details of the bike.

    • Hardley T Whipsnade III

      Excuse my moment of pedantism but those are monochromatic photos not B&W . But to be honest though I would normally prefer a bit more detailed set of photos to go with the story like yourself these photos fit this bike and the fact that its a NYC bike to an absolute tee . Fact is I’d call the photos very apposite to the subject at hand

  • This bike is the perfect nyc road warrior. I really dig the origami look of the tank and fender – it fits perfectly the style and purpose of this build. Who says artists can’t wrench or gearheads can’t creat art? I like how Nick has put together bits and pieces from various sources to create his own very ridable industo-city-scrambler.

  • seanstream

    Amazing job and perfect NYC vibe. I will definitely be keeping my eye open for this around town.

  • guvnor67

    Love it! Tough as guts!

    • guvnor67

      And he made the tank in a day!! I had to have another look, and man this thing is kool!! I’d love somethin like this for my daily hack.

  • Fast2Furious

    Now that’s a Warthog…

  • TruthBringer

    Stereotypes are dangerous indeed, but your examples were just dumb. New Yorkers ride vespas & fixies? never heard that one. If ya had to stereotype the transportation of one of the world’s largest metros & the “city where no one drives” . . .it’d probably be a subway or taxi.

  • The narrative could just as easily be: Yamaha skunk-works project, created by a design team so confident they skipped clay mock-up and went straight to prototype, mothballed by future-fearing executives, sits abandoned, until junior engineer fires it up and Escapes to New York…
    No? Grim men in dark suits aren’t being dispatched from Shizuoka…
    Well, no worries. This bike doesn’t need a cool narrative; one look at that stance, more modern than modern angular fuel tank, knurling juxtaposed against raw cuts, and you can suspect Nick is writing his own success story.

  • urban assault and warplane connotations, grow up

  • Casey Braaksma

    really cool bike. I built a yamaha a few years back with similar looking tank