Maria Motorcycles based out of Lisbon in Portugal first came to our attention with their beautiful, sea blue Ducati 750 Cafe in 2012. Back then their website was under construction and our information was limited but they had us hooked with their obvious talent and eye for the beautiful. Now that the gentlemen of Maria Riding Co. have fully established their brand and their website is a hive of beauty and information, we realise that the bike that began it all for them was actually this XS650. In an interview with Iron & Air, head mechanic and designer in chief Luis said of his original steed, "Your first love will always be remembered for life with a special feeling. Eva is that first tattoo on Maria Motorcycles’ arm." It was one hell of a way to start. In Portugal these old models are something of a rarity, so despite the extremely tired state in which Luis found this old girl, there was no question in his mind that she would be worth the effort. "The first part of the build was easy, removing all the dirty and rusty parts, we took care of all the damaged parts, and sourced new ones." During the process of the restoration his ideas came together to create a "single and unique motorcycle." But first he needed it to run. Luis luckily had some friends with the required skill set so the engine was dispatched to his buddies and rebuilt from scratch, "this was a big motivation boost which let us believe that all the rest was going to be possible." With the motor taken care of, he set abut the frame. The tail was shortened and a kicked loop added creating that recognisable, short Brat stance. Next came the task of fabricating some bespoke parts to team with those he had purchased or refurbished. These included the battery box, headlight and backlight supports along with a few other parts. The original wheels were refinished in gloss black and chunky classic Firestone Deluxe tyres were chosen. Twin air filters replaced the air box whilst a gel battery was hidden beneath the seat in the aforementioned box along with all the wires and condensers. The simple, clean look was the order of the day. "Getting the engine started was something tricky to solve. Hours and hours checking all details from the new electrical system." But when it finally ran, it felt like a brand new bike, testament to the work carried out by Luis and his mates. The seat proved problematic, "It was the best of 4 prototypes. We really knew what we wanted, but it was not simple to get there…!" When Luis was finally satisfied with the profile and fit it was covered in a pale brown leather that compliments the gold detailing on the tank and the headlight. Crisp white was chose for the tank and grips. "The design and the graphics just came out to be a very natural thing, since that’s our professional skills area." "We are very pleased with it! Riding it is even better! The sound and the feel is amazing. We have not so much comfort, but the fun is outstanding!" That fun is the essence of the Maria experience, they talk on their website in glowing terms of the fun we used to have and how they intend to reclaim it with their motorcycles, "Everyone's old days are usualy full of precious stories and adventures. The past is often the best. The more stories to remember, the more interesting moments to share.... and a good ride is usually a true and instant story maker." The experience Luis had and the skills he learned in the building of this bike are what went on to form the Maria Riding Co. of today. If this was "the first tattoo on the arm" then the sleeves are certainly coming along nicely with numerous projects completed since and plenty in the pipeline. See more of their work on the Maria Riding Co. Bikeshed page and expect it to receive more ink soon.