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BikeExif BMW cafe racer BMW motorcycles BMW R65 cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs

The Keeper: Gasoline builds a BMW R series for Cam Elkins

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
You may not know the name Cam Elkins, but there’s a good chance you’re familiar with his work. He’s the man behind the brilliant short films called Stories of Bike, which explore the relationships between custom motorcycles and their owners.

After several years filming other people’s bikes, Cam decided it was time to get a custom of his own. He selected a 1986 BMW R65.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
“I’ve always loved boxer engines,” he tells us. “I think they’re reminiscent of old WW2 airplanes, which had such a sleek but utilitarian look to them.”

“And when I first got into the cafe racer scene, it was the custom R80s and R65s that tended to catch my eye. So in short, it’s been a dream for a long time.”

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
The R65 is a wise choice for a custom from the R series. It’s light, the handling is quick, and steering stability is good—thanks to a beefy upper triple clamp. So it’s the perfect airhead for twisty roads, especially if it’s a post-‘85 model with the monoshock configuration.

Cam got to know Jason Leppa and technician Sean Taylor at Gasoline while filming a promo video for their custom Harley Sportster, the A-15. So when he’d saved up enough to buy the R65 and put some money toward customizing, he knew whom to call.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
“I knew Gasoline would do a great job, having seen their custom work up close.” So Cam delivered the BMW to Gasoline’s workshop in south Sydney, Australia. And as a style guide, he pointed them towards a super-clean R80 from the Spanish shop ROA.

“The brief was to build a forever bike,” says Gasoline’s Jason Leppa. “One with timeless style and clean lines, with modern controls and handling.”

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
Gasoline have absolutely nailed that brief, and delivered one of the cleanest looking R-series BMWs we’ve seen. There’s not a line out of place, or a sliver of pipewrap—and even the 18-inch cast alloy wheels look good.

To counter the age of the R65, Gasoline started by dismantling the original engine and gearbox. They vapor blasted and rebuilt the drivetrain with all new bearings, seals and gaskets, and then restored and powder coated the final drive unit.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
The carbs were overhauled too, and new jets installed to match the improved breathing: there’s a DNA filter upstream, and a custom-made 2-into-2 stainless exhaust system, with a balance pipe between the cylinders.

The get the stance right, the front suspension has been lowered 40mm and the rear raised 50mm, with the help of a new shock.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
There’s a new top clamp from Retrofit Collective, which fits neatly with a headlight bowl mount and fork brace from TinWorks.

Purpose Built Moto supplied the small profile headlight (and control unit) to complete the modern retro aesthetic.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
Gasoline added clip-on bars, with Beringer hand controls and switch blocks (and brake calipers). Motogadget supplied the speedometer, grips and m.view mirrors—which have a polished aluminum rather than glass surface.

And there’s more German engineering in the shape of discreet Kellermann brake and signal lights.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
It’s all hooked up to a new wiring loom and, at Cam’s request, an electromagnetic cruise control device connected to a custom throttle tube.

It’s one of those almost impossibly clean builds, with paint to match—a deep royal blue and a subtle matte grey, colors with a clear link to BMW’s history.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
But as we all know, simplicity can be deceptive. “The style looks easy to achieve, but the build process wasn’t!” Jason admits. “Nearly all the modern components had to be modified to fit, and took longer than expected to source.”

The effort was worth it, and reflected in the name of the bike: The Keeper. “It preserves its 1980s history, but will be ridden well into the future,” says Jason.

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline
Cam Elkins now has a bike that can hold its own against all the beautiful machines that pass in front of his camera. And if you’re lucky enough to be going to the fabulous Machine Show in Braidwood, Australia this weekend, you can see it in the metal.

The rest of us will have to drool over this (very fine) photoset instead.

Gasoline | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Rob Hamilton

BMW R series cafe racer by Gasoline

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BikeExif BMW motorcycles BMW R nineT BMW scrambler Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs scrambler VTR Customs

This BMW R nineT is a homage to Rickman Métisse

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
In the world of vintage desert sleds, the Rickman Triumph Métisse reigns supreme. It was a pretty legit scrambler in its day, and also one of best-looking motorcycles from that era.

For VTR Customs boss Dani Weidmann, though, there’s an even deeper connection. Back in the 80s, 17-year-old Dani took an apprenticeship at a company called Meier & Lutziger—the Swiss importer of Rickman frames and parts. Dani fell in love with the classy design of these throwback sleds.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
When the VTR Customs crew were recently shooting the breeze over coffee—and reminiscing about the past—the idea of building a Métisse replica popped up. And since VTR is the custom arm of the BMW dealer Stucki2Rad, it could be based on the BMW R nineT. Just like that, the ‘Bétisse’ was born.

“Since we knew very well how the ‘Bétisse’ should look,” Dani tells us, “the design was done very quickly. A gas tank, seat and tail combination in the classic Métisse style.”

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
The original Métisse body kits were fiberglass—but VTR prefer working with aluminum. So their head tech and ‘alloy godfather’ Cello Brauchli whipped up a full complement of hand-made body parts.

“I think Cello prayed to God that, one day, we’re gonna have simpler ideas,” quips Dani. “After producing the Spitfire, we still fear he might kill us one day.”

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
Cello nailed the lines; hints of the original Rickman design are unmistakable. But it took some under-the-hood work to get right too. The design called for a straight fly line front to back, but due to strict Swiss regulations, the main frame couldn’t be modded.

So VTR took inspiration from another R nineT custom they’d seen, and built a bolt-on subframe to run the length of the bike.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
It’s beautifully crafted, and also accommodates a custom-built air intake that replaces the stock unit, on the right. Look on the other side, and you’ll spot a matching air box cover. The new arrangement also called for a serious wiring cleanups.

The original airbox is still in play, but the exhaust is completely bespoke. It features custom two-into-one headers, terminating in a modified Akrapovič connector and end can.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
“This is a pure ‘racing only’ solution,” says Dani. (The bike comes with an additional, street legal system from Hattech.)

The team deviated from the source material on the livery a bit. An OG British Racing Green paint job was on the cards, but it felt too on-the-nose. So VTR opted for baby blue, polished alloy, and gold highlights, with replica ‘Bétisse’ logos. Paint shop Freuler over in Benken sorted it out for the guys.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
The frame had to be period correct though, and that meant nickel-plating it. But Swiss laws got in the way again (something along the lines of influencing the frame’s structural integrity).

So VTR nervously switched to a nickel-esque powder coating instead—and breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
One glaringly modern touch still remained: the R nineT’s motor and drivetrain are all black. So the guys took the brand new BMW, and stripped it right down to refinish it.

“The most shitty job,” Dani tells us, “was the sandblasting and glass pearl finishing of the engine. Stefano did this, in order not to stress Cello out even more.”

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
From there on out, it was a case of dressing the Bétisse in the right finishing kit. VTR started with BMW’s own Option 719 billet accessories, including foot controls, valve covers and the motor’s front ‘breastplate.’ They picked the clear alloy finish, but painted the cylinder heads black themselves, with some contrasting lines and lettering.

The cockpit was treated to a set of Renthal MX bars, new grips, and Magura master cylinders. Inspiration for the headlight came straight out of the 60s, with a deliberately “ugly, frog eyes and big plate look.” Out back, a pair of Kellermann tail light LEDs were sunk into tunnels in the rear section.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
Classic dirt bikes didn’t sit as high as their modern counterparts, so VTR debated at length whether they should jack up the R nineT Scrambler’s suspension. In the end, they fitted a new shock and forks from Wilbers, with a 7 cm lift at both ends.

Then they added an 80s hit, with a pair of gold wheels from Kineo. They’re wrapped in Continental TKC80 tires, measuring 120/70 19” in front, and 170/60 17” out back.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
Final touches include a small, hand-made fender up front, and leather upholstery on the seat by VTR’s upholsterer, Yves Knobel.

It didn’t shock us to learn that the Bétisse was sold before it was even finished. “It’s found a home alongside some other VTR Customs, inside a regular client’s garage,” Dani tells us. We just hope it doesn’t stay in the garage too long.

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR
If you’re hoping to order your own Bétisse, we have some bad news. None of the parts are available in kit or complete form—everything was made specifically for this build.

“One of our client promises,” says Dani, “is that we build single and unique bikes, and that no copies will ever be reproduced by us.”

Disappointed?

VTR Customs | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Marc Holstein

A BMW R nineT Rickman Métisse Homage from VTR

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BikeExif BMW cafe racer BMW motorcycles BMW R nineT Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs Vagabund Moto

Vagabund’s R nine T custom comes with official approval

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
Most of us take it for granted that we can modify our bikes. As long as the VIN number is correct and the modifications are not visibly unsafe, there’s rarely a problem.

But in some countries, the regulations are real tough. Several territories in Southeast Asia make it virtually impossible to register a custom bike. And in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, there’s the notorious TÜV system.

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
TÜV requires official approval for almost every modified part fitted to a bike. The frame cannot be welded or drilled or deformed in any way. Even a new muffler must have an approval sticker—and be designed for the model of bike you’re riding.

This makes life extremely difficult for custom builders in the Germanic countries. But Paul Brauchart and Philipp Rabl of Austria’s Vagabund Moto have managed to circumvent the system without compromising on style.

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
Vagabund have been wowing us with their precision bike building skills for four years now. But this BMW has been their toughest challenge yet.

The R nineT we’re looking at here is the first in a new series of ‘V nineT’ bikes, and despite the extensive work, it comes with that critical TÜV Certificate. (Which must have made the decision easier for BMW’s Austrian distributor, which has already commissioned a V nineT to take to moto shows.)

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
The V nineT also takes just eight weeks to build, which is a short time frame for a custom that doesn’t use exclusively off-the-shelf parts.

The Graz-based workshop have designed and manufactured a whole bundle of new body parts, including a bolt-on rear end with an integrated LED taillight. They’ve also designed a new leather seat, headlight housing and front fender, to give the bike the futuristic style that’s now a Vagabund signature.

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
“First of all, we did 2D sketching to get a feel for the proportions,” Paul tells us. “We also 3D-scanned the whole R nineT, so the Vagabund parts would perfectly replace the stock parts.”

The new parts are produced using a laser sintering 3D printer at an Austrian prototyping specialist. “The material is flexible, petrol resistant and UV resistant,” says Paul. “It’s also used in automotive manufacturing.”

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
The level of finish is up there with the BMW factory, and probably even better. But it wasn’t an easy process, and Vagabund found themselves with a steep learning curve.

“With this build, we were treading a new path. There’s a huge difference between cutting things off and redoing them, and working within the existing structure of the donor motorcycle.”

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
Vagabund will not be selling the parts individually, but there are different levels of customization available. The ‘basic’ V nineT retains the gold finish on the forks; upgraded specs include anodized fork tubes and a powder coated axle mount, plus ceramic coating for the exhaust system.

A smattering of aftermarket accessories completes the build, supplied by top-shelf brands. Remus, for example, has produced a variant of its Hypercone exhaust muffler exclusively for the V nineT.

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
Other parts adding to the upscale spec come from Rizoma, which supplies the valve covers, rearsets, indicators and control levers.

There’s a Motogadget Motoscope Pro speedo just ahead of the bars, and a Koso Thuderbolt LED headlight right below it in a custom housing. It pumps out over a thousand lumens of light on low beam. (“The bike includes all the gadgets modern motorcyclists love and need,” says Paul.)

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
Custom paint is included in the package, to the customer’s spec, along with new aluminum badging and extensive powdercoating of stock hard parts.

The V nineT is a numbered series and will not be sold as a DIY body kit. But Vagabund can procure a new R nineT and work their magic on it for a turnkey €28,990 (US$32,000). And then ship the bike worldwide.

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto
But if you’re in Europe, you can drop your own R nineT off at the workshop and get the same work done at a considerably reduced price.

Quality doesn’t come cheap, but the V nineT concept gets a big tick from us. Not only because we love the style, but also because it reminds us of the golden era of coachbuilding and mid-20th century carrozzeria specials.

And as painful as the TÜV system can be, it’s also a guarantee of mechanical quality. Which has to be a good thing, ja?

Vagabund Moto | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Stefan Leitner | Rider clothing by John Doe

BMW R nineT custom with TÜV approval, by Vagabund Moto

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BikeExif BMW motorcycles BMW R100 BMW scrambler Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs

A Cautionary Tale: Inheriting a BMW R100GS project

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
Love ’em or hate ’em, BMW’s GS behemoths have dominated the ADV market for almost four decades now. Five years ago, the 500,000th GS rolled off the Berlin production line, and we’re betting it won’t be long before the go-anywhere boxer hits the million mark.

We don’t see many GS customs, though. These machines are a triumph of function over form, and most owners like it that way.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
So this R100GS is something of a rarity—and its backstory is rather strange too.

It belongs to Hasselblad Master photographer and bike builder Gregor Halenda, who is best known for an amazing KTM 2-wheel-drive motorcycle he collaborated on for the apparel brand REV’IT!

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
It some respects this is a cautionary tale about buying a project bike started by someone else. When the R100 GS arrived in Gregor’s workshop in Portland, Oregon, it didn’t take long for problems to surface.

“While the fabrication was great on the tanks, the overall mechanical condition was horrible,” says Gregor.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
“The bike burned a quart of oil every 100 miles. It was down on power, and it wouldn’t run in the mornings because the petcocks were plumbing parts that let water and debris into the carbs.”

“I don’t know why the engine was in such bad shape, and maybe the previous owner didn’t either.”

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
Gregor didn’t complain because he considered this bike to be a test bed for his next build. He’s replaced everything except the three custom tanks—the rear is in a monocoque subframe—the frame, and the exhaust.

When Gregor took the engine apart he realized that a full rebuild was in order. “The heads were shot, the cylinders were shot, the pistons were toast, the rods were fried, the crank was shot and the crank bearings and block were ruined!”

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
So Gregor dumped that engine and installed a solid motor from an early 80s BMW R100RS, complete with a big valve conversion and head work by the Portland, Oregon shop Baisley Hi-Performance.

It fits just nicely into the braced frame, raised up and tipped back a little for extra clearance. The GS now has some serious grunt.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
The 304 stainless steel exhaust came with the GS, but Gregor had to modify it by changing brackets and the backpressure. “It’s actually the wrong diameter, so I’ll remake it in the correct diameter.”

The suspension is another big upgrade: Gregor’s installed beefy 48mm WP upside-down forks from a KTM 690R, using KTM 450 SX triples and a custom fabricated steering stem.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
The single disc brakes are Brembo, with a twin-piston floating caliper at the front.

The swingarm is from an R1100 GS—but it’s been cut and sectioned, with the shock mount repositioned, to allow fitment of the biggest possible 18-inch tire.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
The driveshaft is a hybrid of parts from the R1100GS and R100GS, with the final drive coming from an R850R. It’s got 37/11 gearing, the lowest possible.

New rims and billet hubs from Denver-based Woody’s Wheel Works have made a huge difference.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
They are very narrow: 21×1.6 and 18×2.15. “These are true off-road rims,” says Gregor. “BMWs are made for 17-inch rims, and the rear wheel squeezes the huge 140/80-18 Goldentyre GT723R into a very tall, round shape.”

“It rolls over things much better, and the round profile makes it much quicker to turn now.”

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
An extreme enduro Goldentyre ‘Fatty’ front complements the giant Rally Raid-style rear. “The traction is mind-bending for a big bike,” says Gregor. “It also has over 11 inches of suspension travel; previously it was nine, so it sits much taller now but with greater stroke.”

Cutting 20 pounds off the rotating weight apparently feels like more than 100 pounds. “The original owner got the GS down from 500 to 428 pounds, and I’ve taken it down to 400—with all that being in the rotating and unsprung weight,” says Gregor.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
Adding to the rider enjoyment are new ProTaper bars in a ‘CR High’ bend, Renthal half waffle grips, and modified Fastway pegs from Pro Moto Billet. Gregor also made up new shifter and brake assemblies using stainless steel and precision needle bearings

The wiring loom on the BMW was neatly done, but it’s now upgraded with a Euro MotoElectric (EME) charging system and ignition.

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
There’s also a Trail Tech Voyager Pro instrument—a cutting-edge off-road GPS system with built-in Bluetooth for phone connections, and a 4-inch color touchscreen.

“I feel like the bike is ‘mine’ now,” says Gregor. “I’ve spent more time sorting it than the original owner did building it! I consider it a mule—a test bed for my next bike.”

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
“To get the weight I really want to be at—350 pounds—will require a new frame and much lighter bodywork. But the bike works great now, and it’s a blast to ride.

Gregor’s now going to design a new frame from scratch and test out some more motor mods. “I’ve become friends with Walt Siegl and he’s convincing me to do composites for the body and tank.”

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike
“My long-term goal is to build the next bike into the ultimate custom adventure bike. A couple of people have expressed interest in having me build a series of bikes, like Walt does, but on the BMW platform.”

“Custom adventure bikes are the next big thing. I’ve raced, rallied and adventured, and I know what works. My bikes are function and form together: never at the expense of one or the other.”

Amen to that. And we can’t wait to see what this formidable GS turns into next.

Gregor Halenda Instagram

Custom BMW R100GS adventure bike

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BikeExif BMW cafe racer BMW motorcycles Bolt Motor Company Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs

It’s A Keeper: A K series built for a footballing legend

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
When one of Spain’s most legendary goalkeepers wanted a hot steed based on a BMW K series ‘brick,’ he knew just the team to call: Bolt Motor Co. of Valencia.

Andrés Palop, known for his penalty-stopping prowess at Sevilla FC, approached Bolt boss Adrián Campos with a simple brief for a custom build; clean lines, a bit of a dark feeling, and some red touches.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
Adrián and his team are known for their ability to produce clinically clean customs from unlikely platforms. This time they chose a 1991 BMW K75S ‘flying brick’ for their starting point—the sporty one in the K range, with high compression pistons for the DOHC inline triple and 17-inch rear wheel.

“It looks like we’ve learned how to make bricks look great, so we decided to do it again”, says Adrián.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
The donor arrived in top shape, needing only a dash of paint on the chassis, wheels and the unmistakably rectangular engine block.

Everything else was kicked into touch and replaced with new or fabricated components, including the electronics—which were swapped out for Motogadget components.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
New Showa front suspension, sourced from a Ducati Monster, leads the way and carries the stock 18” wheel wrapped with Pirelli MT60 rubber.

The upgraded Brembo monobloc brakes provide the type of stopping power a legendary goalkeeper can appreciate. A petite fender, formed on an English wheel, caps the front tire.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
Keeping things tidy atop the forks meant a full Motogadget treatment for the Renthal Ultra Low bars. “We used Motogadget grips, push-buttons, turn signals, and the classic speedo,” Adrián says. Clearly, a tasteful treatment for this clean custom.

To ensure pitch-perfect parity with Adrián’s vision for clean lines, the shop wrapped a classic 5¾-inch headlamp in a 3D-printed encasement.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
Moving back from the cockpit reveals a modified K100 tank—with carbon fiber panels for aggressive, sporty lines—and a tailor-made seat.

Covered in waterproof suede, the seat continues the complementary lines, atop a modified subframe and without sacrificing rider comfort.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
Below the seat are custom perforated metal side panels, dressed in black—a perfect canvas for the military-style stencil font announcing, in red, the model name of this semi-obscure Beemer.

Finishing out the tail is a Highsider taillight resting above the rear wheel, plus a rear suspension upgrade with a custom Hagon suspension setup.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
And, what about that rear wheel?

“That carbon fiber wheel cover was the biggest challenge on this BMW.” Adrián explains. “The rear brake is very close to the rim, and we had to create a flat cover with no screws”.

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.
As with everything Bolt puts their hand to, there’s no sign of a struggle.

Transforming the K series into a lean, clean streetfighting machine is no small task. With a series of smart choices, the team at Bolt have given Señor Palop’s K75 a dark and aggressive look that’ll stop anyone with a pulse.

Score, Bolt.

Bolt Motor Co. | Facebook | Instagram

BMW K series custom built for Andrés Palop by Bolt Motor Co.

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BikeExif BMW motorcycles BMW R65 BMW scrambler Custom Motorcycles Diamond Atelier Other Motorcycle Blogs scrambler

New from Diamond Atelier: The ‘Groot’ BMW scramblers

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
In the premier league of custom builders, Diamond Atelier’s place is secure. The sleek creations of the Munich workshop look better than most factory-built show bikes—and they’re perfectly usable too.

But Tom Konecny and Pablo Steigleder don’t just design one-offs. Their ‘Mark II’ BMW café racers are in limited production, offering a faster and more affordable way to obtain that Diamond Atelier magic. And they’ve now just launched another ‘family’ of limited production BMWs, a series of stylish scramblers based on the R65.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
“We’ll always produce our unique builds,” says Pablo. “Those projects shape the brand: they are radical and aggressive, and set the bar higher one notch at a time.”

“But since the beginning of Diamond Atelier, we’ve got emails asking ‘Do you also build scramblers?’ Or, ‘How about bikes with high bars and knobby tires?’”

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
So Tom and Pablo have now broadened their portfolio. Meet ‘Groot,’ a series of scramblers that’s had us quickly checking the health of our bank accounts.

But first, why the strange name? “We named the ‘Mark II’ after Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit,” Pablo explains. “So we’ve decided to stick to the Marvel Universe. And nothing fits our vision of riding through the forest better than the famous little tree monster ‘Groot’.”

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
“We both grew up in the city, and live and work there,” says Pablo. “So we love to escape at weekends. It could be hunting, climbing or camping—but the right bike to throw in the back of the van was missing.”

Diamond Atelier have never claimed to be BMW specialists, but their love for the iconic 2-valve airhead is obvious. Groot is based on a 248-spec R65, which can comfortably exceed 100 mph and weighs around 450 pounds fully fueled.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
Like all Diamond Atelier builds, Groot is clean, well balanced and functional. New bodywork has been designed and built from scratch, with a Motogadget speedo set into the front of the gas tank.

The proportions are stunning, helped by a custom-made rear frame above the twin shock swingarm. The wheels are BMW ‘snowflakes’ and 18 inches both front and back, shod with Continental Twinduro TKC80 rubber.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
BMW’s engineering on the original R65 was just fine, but suspension technology has improved a lot over the past four decades.

So the boys have fitted completely refurbished and black anodized 53mm USD forks from a modern Japanese sportbike. The shocks are adjustable Wilbers 630 Blacklines.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
The front brakes have been upgraded too, with double 320mm discs and six-piston Tokico calipers connected to an ABM radial brake master cylinder via steel braided lines.

With high-riding suspension and a slim gas tank, there’s plenty of space around the iconic engine. But this is no stock boxer: it’s been fully rebuilt with a kit from the famed BMW performance house Siebenrock.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
This bumps capacity up to 860 cc via Nikasil-coated cylinders and weight-optimised forged pistons, delivering a substantial increase in both torque and horsepower. “It makes Groot a ‘BMW R86,’” says Pablo.

After installing the refreshed engine, Diamond Atelier approached Mikuni guru Stephen Topham, who hooked them up with a pair of brand new TM36-31 carbs.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
“We still get excited when we unbox a pair of those beauties! The carbs are individually jetted to work with the K&N air filter and our custom free-flow exhaust system.”

The hand-welded headers are wrapped around the frame down tubes, and sweep around the engine in typical motocross style. “It’s about what you don’t see,” says Pablo. “So the visual mass of the bike appears extremely lightweight.”

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
The electrical system is all new, and neatly tucked away. There are several components from Motogadget, including a Bluetooth m.unit control box, a keyless RFID ignition, and CNC-machined grips. The mirrors are Motogadget’s latest innovation, with polished aluminum instead of glass for the reflective surface.

Although this is a series bike, there are plenty of personalization options. Buyers can specify a custom paint job: “Dark metallic colors with race-oriented patterns create an edgy and urban feel, while lighter pastels have a more old-school vibe,” says Pablo.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
For the first bikes, Diamond turned to Munich-based artist Viktoria Greiner, who specializes in painting gas tanks and helmets. “We told her that we were thinking about a photo shoot in the forest, and she came up with the abstract fir cones theme. If you want to make your Groot even more of a piece of art, you can get it painted by Viktoria as well.”

The gas tanks on these R65s can be changed in less than five minutes, thanks to a neat plug-and-play setup, so you could even have two different tanks on hand. And if you want a matching helmet, Diamond have teamed up with Hedon to take care of custom orders.

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier
Groot is the kind of bike you could use to escape for a few hours on a Sunday morning. And it’s also compact enough to fit in a cradle on the back of a campervan.

If you love leisurely rides down fire trails and dirt roads, but can’t bear the shiny plastics of most modern dual sport bikes, you’ve got another option right here.

Diamond Atelier | Instagram | Facebook | Photos by Lukas Magerl

BMW R65 scrambler custom by Diamond Atelier

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BikeExif BMW cafe racer BMW motorcycles BMW R nineT cafe racer Custom Motorcycles Other Motorcycle Blogs VTR Customs

Shitanes 61: VTR Customs’ outrageous BMW R nineT

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
There’s a lot to be said for elegance and subtlety. And there’s also a time and place for going completely over the top.

Dani Weidmann and his crew at the Swiss shop VTR Customs can play it both ways. This time, they’ve turned the volume up to 11 and built a BMW R nineT that’s about as subtle as an AC/DC riff.

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
It’s got 136 hp, a stonking 145 Nm of torque, and it’s called ‘Shitanes 61’—a reference to the famous Gitanes motor racing livery from the 1980s.

The story starts at the last Swiss Custom Moto Show, where VTR displayed their R nineT Pure ‘Street Tracker33’ bike. It was snapped up on the second day of the show, much to the chagrin of one of VTR’s regular clients.

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
“Talking on our stand, our client came up with an idea,” says Dani. “He wanted a bike that was even more radical than ST33, and faster.”

The concept was agreed on the spot: an R nineT with USD forks, engine tuning, a quickshifter, top shelf high performance parts, and a dash of 80s style. “That’s doable for us, because we grew up around that decade, and have done 80s theme bikes in the past,” says Dani.

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
While kicking ideas around during a coffee break, talk turned towards Formula 1 cars. “We came to the Gitanes design [used on the French Equipe Ligier cars] and voilà—Shitanes was born.” The #61 comes from the owner’s year of birth.

For the donor bike, VTR chose an R nineT with the Option 719 accessory pack—which includes goodies like milled cylinder heads, upgraded foot pegs and adjustable brake and clutch levers. But to get the 80s look, VTR decided to have the Spezial parts ‘shrink coated,’ as Ferrari cylinder head covers are.

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
It’s the engine that’s really the centerpiece of this build, though. It’s been bored out to 1320 cc (80ci) using new high compression pistons, cylinder liners and connecting rods from Wössner.

VTR have also reworked the cylinder heads for better airflow, and installed a Power Commander to get the mapping right for the modified engine.

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
The dyno sheet now shows 136 horsepower, a 23% increase over the standard 110. “It’s a beast,” says Dani, and we bet it sounds like one too: gases now exit via a straight-through Akrapovič titanium race exhaust system.

There’s a racing quickshifter from Translogic for banging through the gears even faster than usual, and Dani mentions that the traction control has to be turned off before full power can be used. “We stayed away from a NOS system though,” he says wryly, “because our client also wants to ride on the street.”

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
Grip will be plentiful thanks to Michelin’s race-bred Power RS slicks, which are wrapped around 17-inch Kineo spoked wheels—a hefty 6 inches wide at the back, and 3.5 at the front.

Bobbed fenders keep the crud away, and VTR also fabricated the alloy front and side alloy number plates. The tank is stock but the fuel cap assembly has been modified to accept a Monza-style cap.

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
The cockpit has been given an upgrade too, with the standard bars swapped out for a lightweight Magura SX bend. Magura also supplied the high-end HC3 radial master cylinders and VTR have added tinted green glass to the stock twin instruments.

Sitting atop the shortened rear subframe is a new seat pad, stitched in classic 80s style and made with the help of Carrosseriesattler Yves Knobel. Tiny multi-function taillights from Kellermann are only just visible—if you know where to look.

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
The Gitanes-style paint was applied by VTR’s regular spray guys, Freuler of Benken. And there are a few logos from the 80s scattered around too—some of them discreetly subverted.

The owner of Shitanes 61 usually trades in his bikes after a while, and then commissions another one. But this time, he asked for all the wordmarks and logos to be placed under the final clear coat: “I will keep this beast for ever!”

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs
That’s bad news for anyone hoping to buy this BMW in the months to come—which includes some of VTR’s own staff, apparently. “None of the parts are available in our shop or as a kit either,” Dani adds. “One of the promises we make to our clients is that we build unique bikes, and no copies.”

So it looks like Shitanes 61 will forever be a one-off. But the good news is that VTR’s order book is open. If you want something a little different, and a guaranteed one-of-a-kind too, you know who to call.

VTR Customs | Facebook | Instagram | Images by PHOTOCAB / Andri Margadant

A 1980s-inspired BMW R nineT by VTR Customs

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Setting the bar: UFO Garage’s BMW R100R cafe racer

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
We’re always on the hunt for custom motorcycles that push boundaries. So if you’re going to tread familiar territory, you better do an exceptional job of it.

This right here is a classic BMW cafe racer—a genre that’s quite frankly been done to death. But unlike ninety percent of the airhead cafés we see, this R100R from Spain is perfectly balanced, amazingly well finished, and devoid of clichés.

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
It’s the work of Efraón Triana at UFO Garage, a builder with exceptional taste. He turned a modern Harley Sportster into a 1950s homage a while back, landing himself in our 2018 Top 10.

The goal here, he tells us, was to build a “real luxury café racer,” with an emphasis on elegance. “With a low and fluid line from front to back,” he adds. “I like the ‘monochromatic’ aesthetic. Thin, long and narrow—with a ‘fast motorcycle’ look.”

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
Efraón started out with a 1990 BMW R 100 R—complete with BMW’s newer ‘Monolever’ swing arm and spoked wheels. He left the motor and drivetrain mostly stock, but treated the engine to a new coat of a textured black paint typically used on Harleys.

The engine now breathes in via a pair of pod filters, and the airbox has been replaced by a custom-made cover. The new twin exhaust system is from GR Exhausts—built according to Efraón’s design.

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
Moving to the chassis, Efraón swapped out the BMW’s forks for a set of upside-downs from a Suzuki GSX-R.

To fit them, he took all the necessary measurements, then sent them off to have a new set of triples machined up. He also modded the GSX-R’s front brakes to run on the R 100 R wheel, and created a new front fender.

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
Out back is a new custom-made Hagon shock. It’s a little shorter than stock, but the upper shock mount is in a different place now—so it’s actually lifted the rear slightly, for a sharper stance.

That shock mount forms part of a new steel subframe, made from scratch. Old boxers have bolt-on subframes, but Efraón decided to graft his new design directly to the main frame. And he didn’t just weld it—instead, he used a brazing technique he picked up on a trip to the States.

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
It’s a neat effect, and we love the drilled gussets—and the passenger peg mounts. It’s topped off with a new seat, covered in Alcantara, with a hidden document pouch underneath. The bottom’s closed off with a metal panel, keeping things orderly.

The taillight sits lower down, in the form of a pair of dual-purpose LED turn signals, mounted to a custom-built license plate bracket.

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
Efraón’s kept the entire wiring package extremely neat—rewiring everything off a Motogadget control box, and relocating the OEM battery further down.

A ton of consideration went into the cockpit too. Efraón wanted to retain some of the airhead’s DNA, so he fitted the headlight from an R80. Then he installed twin Daytona gauges, creating new bezels for them, joined by a plate that also holds the idiot lights. (The whole layout is a nod to the original BMW dash).

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
Also present are new clip-ons, Biltwell Inc. grips and bar-end mirrors. The master cylinder’s a Brembo part, and the switches and front turn signals are by Motogadget. We’re even spotting new foot pegs and controls, and an upgraded side stand.

There’s hardly a hair out of place, but what really caught us by surprise was just how much thought went into the paint. At a glance, it looks like a run of the mill monochrome job—but there’s a lot going on.

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage
Efraón mixed gloss and matte textures, and used both grey and black to create the desired effect. The wheels were stripped and refinished too, and the frame and rear shock spring were even treated to a new coat.

More importantly, this BMW wears sensible tires—and there’s not an inch of pipe wrap in sight. Should this be how all modern cafe racers are built?

UFO Garage | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Rafa Dieguez Fotografía

BMW R100R custom motorcycle by UFO Garage

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‘Goes Like Corn Through a Goose’: UCC’s BMW R1200R

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
The custom scene event calendar has boomed over the last few years. For fans like us, it means more opportunities to bask in the glow of custom moto culture. But for builders, it means extra deadlines, as they scramble to release new work at key shows.

For Ronna Norén of the legendary Swedish shop Unique Custom Cycles, Glemseck 101 is the show. He uses it each year as the perfect excuse to kick out a new custom build.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Although UCC made their name building choppers, Ronna is also skilled at producing exquisite ‘metric’ machines. As the date for this year’s Glemseck 101 approached, he cast his eye over his bike stash and picked out a rather unusual donor: a 2015-spec BMW R1200R.

“I thought building a water-cooled boxer would be a nice challenge,” Ronna tells us.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
“We’ve done a bunch of air- and oil-cooled boxers, but this is the first water-cooled one. Plus I have seen these bikes in action: they run like corn through a goose!” Which is not surprising: the R1200R is packing 125 stout German horses and 92 ft.lbs of torque.

I’ve spent time on the R1200R myself, and can confirm that it’s a phenomenal motorcycle to ride. Aesthetically, it’s decent-looking from some angles—but feels disjointed overall.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
So Ronna started by stripping off anything that didn’t make it stop or go.

Then he set about building a new tail unit. “I wanted to do a super clean tail,” he says, “with all the necessary functions integrated, but well hidden. All the electronics as well as taillight and blinkers should be virtually invisible.”

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Ronna welded up a chromoly subframe, and then hammered out an impossibly clean aluminum tailpiece to sit on top. And he embedded a pair of taillight LEDs into the ends of the frame rails. All of the BMW’s electronic bits are hidden away under the seat now.

Ronna’s work to the front end was a lot more subtle. “The front bodywork is actually quite nice and tightly packaged,” he said, “so I decided to leave it alone.”

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
‘Leave it alone’ isn’t entirely accurate though. Ronna wanted move the battery (and a lot of modern hardware) from the visible space under the tank, so he built a new fuel cell to sit under the stock tank cover panels, and repackaged everything.

All that was left was to fill in the space connecting the tank to the new tail section. So Ronna fabricated two more aluminum parts to complete the bodywork.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Ronna’s brother Benna—who runs Tolle Engineering—is an equally talented fabricator. He machined a new set of aluminum triple trees, designed to grip a set of Öhlins FGRT227 cartridge forks—a model intended for the R nineT.

“Over the years, we’ve developed a good relationship with the guys at Öhlins,” Ronna tells us. “They set up the fork with the right springs and everything else: their products are second to none.”

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Benna’s custom triples also made it possible to tweak the OEM instrument and headlight positioning, tucking everything in tighter.

Ronna also fitted a set of adjustable risers from Rizoma, and a set of S1000XR handlebars. New master cylinders from Magura round out the control package.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
Öhlins supplied a new TTX GP rear monoshock, set up specifically for this project, and a steering damper. “I lowered the bike in the front and raised it slightly at the rear,” Ronna explains. “The chassis setup is more aggressive now.”

In an unusual change of pace, Ronna didn’t fabricate his own exhaust system this time. Instead, he matched up a set of Akrapovič pipes to a Spark silencer.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
“It’s loud,” he jokes. “I mean it’s really deafening…it sets car alarms off. I think I have to pack in some more wool, or make a new decibel killer to get it into a somewhat digestible range!”

When the time came for paint, Ronna handed the bike over to frequent UCC collaborator Håkan Lindberg. The request was for a clean battleship grey as a primary tone, with bright orange candy on the frame and wheels. Håkan nailed it.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
With everything back in the shop, Ronna spent a couple of days reassembling the R1200R. But he didn’t leave it to the last minute: when photographer Jenny Jurnelius got the call to catalog the bike, Glemseck was still two weeks away. That’s what you call planning.

The R1200R itself is a masterstroke. All the ugly bits are gone, the new bits look stunning, and all the right tech upgrades are in place.

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden
“The bike runs really strong, and I’m looking forward to getting it properly out on the road for the next riding season,” Ronna tells us, from the depths of a Stockholm County winter. “Unless I sell it, of course!”

We’re officially calling dibs.

Unique Custom Cycles | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Jenny Jurnelius

BMW R1200R by Unique Custom Cycles of Sweden

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Fahrenheit 160: Renard’s Smokin’ BMW Bobber

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
We’ve seen so many bad BMW customs—and sketchy bobbers—that hearing both words in one sentence makes us nervous. But the Estonian outfit Renard Speed Shop never disappoints. They’ve knocked this BMW bobber out of the park, and straight into orbit.

The key to Renard’s success is twofold. They have an incredibly keen eye, and they have a near fanatical dedication to details. This handsome bobber started out as a classic BMW R100, brought over from Germany—but there’s not much of the original machine left.

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
“Even though the bike still looks like a BMW, it’s actually completely modified,” shop boss Andres Uibomäe tells us. “The engine and the frame are relatively original, but everything around them is not.”

By ‘relatively original,’ Andres means that he and his crew completely stripped, restored and cleaned the motor, gearbox and final drive. They left the stock air box setup intact, but swapped the exhaust system for a set of hand-made headers, terminating in Triumph Thruxton mufflers.

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
“The bike rides surprisingly well,” says Andres. “The 1,000 cc motor is calm and smooth, starts to run at very low RPM, and is also quiet because of the new Triumph exhaust mufflers.”

With that out of the way, it was time for some extensive chassis changes. Renard grafted on a Harley springer front-end, which meant manufacturing new steering bearing housings. They also lowered the front a touch, and tweaked the fork’s geometry to suit the Beemer.

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
That wasn’t the hardest job though; according to Andres, getting the airhead’s chunky new wheels to fit was a massive chore. Renard built up a new pair of 16×3.5” wheels using BMW hubs, aluminum rims and custom made spokes. Then they wrapped them in 5” wide Firestone rubber.

The front wheel was relatively easy to fit into the springer fork, but the rear wheel was too wide for the BMW’s swing arm. So the crew had to trim the swing arm, which also meant fabricating a narrower shaft for the final drive.

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
The rear wheel still sports the original drum brake, but the front’s been updated with a 320 mm floating disc from ISR, a four piston caliper from Brembo and a Beringer master cylinder.

“As you can see, the end result is quite macho,” says Andres, “and was worth the time and money spent.”

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
Renard also trimmed the fat off the back of the BMW, and rebuilt the shock mounts. That metal cylinder under the seat looks like a vintage oil tank, but it’s actually a support structure for the shock mounts. It’s also hollow, making it the perfect place to stash a tool roll.

The rear’s finished off with a gorgeous ribbed fender, complete with one-off mounting brackets and a neatly integrated LED taillight. The seat’s custom too, and sits on springs mounted just behind the shock mounts.

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
Just in front of it is the fuel tank from a Russian-made IZH Planeta. Visually, it’s a perfect fit for the classic boxer—but in reality, Renard had to build a new tunnel for it, so that they could house various electrical components under it.

Those components are mostly new too, with a Bluetooth-enabled Motogadget m.unit running things. The handlebars are from a 1947 BMW R35, and they wear Renard’s own gorgeous switchgear units. Other updates include LED turn signals at both ends and a Motogadget speedo.

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
Renard picked a simple military matte grey for paint, adding a classy black pinstripe. The only hint of color is a small red spotlight, mounted on the right and fitted with a yellow lens. (Andres confesses that he’s ever so slightly tempted to turn it into a miniature Bat-signal.)

As for the giant ‘One Sixty’ logos painted onto the tires: those refer to Renard’s new smokehouse. They built it next to their workshop at the beginning of the year, and called it ‘One Sixty,’ which is the temperature the smokers run at (in Fahrenheit).

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop
“It acts like a moving commercial,” says Andres. “When I ride it, people cannot take their eyes off it.”

Why are we not surprised? We’ll have the pork ribs with a side of kimchi, please.

Renard Speed Shop | Facebook page | Instagram | Photos by Rene Velli

A BMW-powered custom bobber motorcycle by Renard Speed Shop