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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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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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Custom Bikes Of The Week: 12 March, 2017

The best cafe racers, scramblers and bobbers of the week
A riotous BMW R65 scrambler from Ironwood, a Ronin 47 with pop art graphics, and a concours-level Guzzi cafe racer from Stile Italiano. It’s a treat for the eyes this week.

Magpul 47 Ronin #4: The Sugeno Harufusa bike
Ronin Motor Works #4 When the re-born Buell 1125s known as the 47 Ronin first surfaced two years ago, I dare say not a single one of us didn’t feel the hair on our neck stand to attention. So fierce, menacing and flat out awesome were both the bikes and their story, that I’m sure I’m not alone in having a go at crunching financing numbers.

Now with their production run completed, only a few of these samurai remain without a master. Of those, Number 4—Sugeno Harufusa—stands as one of two Ronins fashioned as tribute to artist Scot Lefavor, whose artwork can be found in mural form around the Denver area.

Featuring a graphic applique from Lafavor’s More Thrilling Adventures with Firearms, Sugeno Harufusa is fully equipped with all of the go-fast bits from the other Ronins—but stands alone because of its unique finish. Pricing hasn’t been set, but as you can imagine, there will be a premium over the $38,000 ask of the first batch. [More]

BMW R65 by Ironwood Custom Motorcycles
BMW R65 by Ironwood Custom Motorcycles When you click on the link to the IWC website for the first time, you’re greeted with the words ‘Burn rubber, not your soul!’ So it shouldn’t surprise you to read that this 1986 R65 has been christened ‘Riot Starter.’

The name makes perfect sense even in pixel form. This new arrival from Amsterdam has a lean and mean stance that rivals any Beemer build we’ve seen lately (aside from Renard’s latest, at least) and we can only imagine the anarchy that custom three-piece stainless megaphone would incite. Well trained eyes will spot that not all parts of this beast are of Bavarian descent. The tank and rear fender once called a Honda CB400 home, and the side-mounted spotlight is one of Milwaukee’s finest.

Of course, the changes made here amount to more than bolting on some refinished parts. The R65’s frame and subframe have been re-engineered for both strength and style. As have many of the bouncy bits, and even the binders too. The top yoke is a milled aluminum unit that spaces the front forks at a wider stance to accommodate TKC80 rubber, and the rear shock is a Wilbers emulsion unit. [More]

Indian Scout Sixty by MWM
Indian Scout Sixty by MWM About two weeks ago I had the chance to throw a leg over the Indian Scout for the first time. I wasn’t expecting much from the entry-level cruiser but, having cut my moto teeth on a Sportster custom, I walked away mighty impressed. The engine pulls whenever you need it to, and the chassis is far more sporting than the forward controls suggest.

Which is exactly why I’m salivating over this supermoto-inspired Scout Sixty from Midwest Moto of Stourport-on-Severn, England. It accentuates perfectly the kind of riding the littlest Indian was engineered to handle. While it may only be powered by the smaller 999cc Sixty motor, the weight loss from that new rear subframe and boost from the one-off MWM exhaust is more than enough to exploit MWM’s other tasty changes.

New rearsets, billet yokes, Showa forks and radial mount calipers enhance the handling characteristics that most Scout owners will never try to find. Thankfully, MWM took the 90-day challenge from Indian Motorcycles UK to build us all a visual reminder.

Scrambler Ducati by Coterie West
Scrambler Ducati by Coterie West Thanks to its agile chassis, versatile powerplant and chameleon-like ability to adapt to builders’ whims, there is no shortage of hotted-up Ducati Scramblers in the custom world. But just because there are a lot of them, it doesn’t mean they’re all good.

This is one of the good ones.

Working from the spoked-wheel Scrambler Classic model, Los Angeles-based Coterie West has created ‘Stella the Scrambler’—a desert tracker conversion as dark and sinister as the night itself. Many of the aesthetic changes applied to Stella are the result of in-house fabrication and deft hands. The front number plate/headlight combo is one of those components, complete with enough lumens to shine a light through time, thanks to a Baja Designs unit. The saddle has been re-shaped with a slimmer profile and an integrated gel insert for better performance both standing and seated. The side panels hung just below that seat are custom units, too.

While we’d have saved some metal to mock up fenders to halt the mud-slinging from the chunky Pirelli Scorpion rubber, it’s really nothing a good bucket and goggles (with tear-offs) can’t solve. [More]

Moto Guzzi 850 T3 cafe racer by Stile Italiano
Moto Guzzi 850 T3 by Stile Italiano In all honesty, I could fill this space with a Wikipedia entry about cabbage cluster caterpillars and it wouldn’t matter. Shoddy writing would get a pass because this Moto Guzzi is so beautiful and so excellently executed that none of you would care what I had to say, so long as we packed in an extra photo or two.

Gianluca Tiepolo, Cristian Diana and Loris Lessio, the craftsmen at Stile Italiano, are renowned for their abilities. This former Moto Guzzi 850 T3 has been transformed into a concours-caliber cafe racer, with a vibe inspired by the Honda CR750.

Little, if anything, has been left untouched. The frame has been coaxed and massaged to work flawlessly with the new bodywork. Or should I just say bodywork? All of the slippery stuff here is a piece of race kit from the 70s, fully restored and modified to fit the Guzzi’s transverse heads. Oh, and the tank is a hand-formed alloy unit that may honestly be the prettiest I’ve ever seen. And the brakes and suspension are just too trick for words. Take some time with this one lads and lasses, there’s no need to rush. Even those pesky caterpillars take about a dozen days from hatching to destroying a cabbage. [More]

Moto Guzzi 850 T3 cafe racer by Stile Italiano