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1983 BMW R65 “Veille École”

Posted on August 8, 2011 by Andrew in Café Racer. 39 comments

Here’s something you may or may not know, depending on your own, personal level of smart-ass-ed-ness. The current BMW logo has been developed over many generations of refinement to the point it’s at today – the familiar circle divided into blue and white quadrants. But do you know where it started? Here’s where; as a white spinning propellor against a blue sky. That’s right, a propellor. Motorcycles were essentially a sideline for the company after the treaty of Versailles banned Germany from making arms in 1918. Talk about making the best out of a poor lot. So almost 100 years later we find ourselves in Sydney with a Frenchman pondering just how to trick up his ’83 R65. Then in a moment of divine inspiration, he realises exactly what he should do. Behold the world’s first BMW motorbike decorated in the colours of the French Airforce. Vive la différence!


Can you introduce yourself ?
My name is Pierre Geromboux. I am currently living out my mid-life crisis in Sydney’s North West. I work in Medical sales.

What Kind of BMW is it?
The bike is a 1983 BMW R65. I have called her “Veille École” which means “Old School” in French. When I purchased the bike it had been sitting in a garage for 5 years. The owner had started with an engine rebuild but the project had stalled there. With the help of my good friend Andrew from Ramspeed we stripped the bike back, gave it a Radical Fenderectomy and resprayed everything. Powder coated the wheels black. Used two tone Gloss and Matt black on petrol tank. Fitted drop down bars, Pod airfilters, Twin headlights & LED indicators. Replaced original instrument display with digital Tacho & Speedometer. Custom cross stitched leather and suede seat. Carbon fiber covered battery (still weighs the same!). Wrapped pipes with new stainless steel slip-on trumpets. Graphics by Joey at Motographics. Next step bi-turbo!

Did you do it all yourself?
I had a mechanic friend help me with fitting the drop down bars and I had to get electrical help when I took off the original instruments and was replacing the generator warning light. Even when we identified this as the problem for the battery not charging and completed the circuit with a resistor, it still would not work. The final solution was setting up a small LED generator warning light under the digital display. All the seals and bearings were replaced, as well as the carburetors rebuilt. The bike is now tuned to perfection and runs reliably.

What’s she like to ride?
I try to ride every weekend. I have done the Putty Road up to Singleton. All through the Blue Mountains. Down to the Royal National Park or sometimes just the coffee run up the Old Pacific Hwy. The beauty is in simplicity of the mechanics. There are no electronic management systems. You get feedback by using all your senses. Checking the oil by using a dipstick. Listen to the engine note and hear how she is running and when to change gears. Smell the oil when the engine gets to temperature and you know it is time to open the taps! The bike is very torquey and gets off the line well. It has quite short gearing and revs out quickly. Top speed is probably about 140khm? That’s what the speedo said anyway. I will try to get it on a Dyno at some stage.

What other bikes have you owned before?
My first bike was actually a scooter when I lived in Paris age 19. I will never forget coming around the Arc de Triomphe onto the Champs Ellysee with six lanes of chaos around me. I then had a Honda CB250 before lapsing into car ownership. I got back into bikes last year when I saw this old boxer engine needing to be brought back to life.

What is a Frenchman doing riding a German bike anyway?
Revenge for WWII.

Favourite BMW and other bikes?
My favourite BMW is easy – it’s the 1934 BMW R7. Otherwise I would be happy to park anything that appears in Pipeburn in my garage.

What’s your workshop like?
It’s a pretty standard two-car garage, but with a bike instead of the second car. There’s a quality socket set, a BMW tool set, some painting and polishing stuff – and I have a bike lift so I can get in and work under the bike.

If she was a movie, which one would she be?

  • Michiel

    great looking bike, really like the headlight setup. But your introduction about the BMW logo isn't correct. In fact the logo is based on the shield of arms of Bayern.

  • rob

    sweet bike! i am really liking the dual-light set-up, and black-painted snowflake wheels are really tough… here is a video of the exact origins of the BMW logo… . I also thought it was based on a propellor… until about 4 minutes ago when i found this video. also, great work on the studio-quality foto's!

  • hater

    Why call your bike old school if your going to put shitty modern components on it?

    I think the headlight looks out of place and the paint job around the tank with the aeroplane stye rivets paint on looks tacky

    but I can appreciate all the hard work that has gone into restoring this bike it looks like it's in real good condition unlike that other POS bmw that was featured on here

  • pascie

    The headlights are remarkable and they look quite ok from the front, but so tiny from the side :o. I prefer a big round one on these old racers, but that's just me :).

  • Drillmastertommy

    I am gagging to do an old boxer engined custom and I really wanted to like this one but I'm afraid I just can't…… It certainly looks like whatever work has been done has been done to a good standard but that seat unit and headlight combo is like a sweet pin up chick wearing ugg boots!

  • bill

    michiel's wrong just for the record. i work for bmw and the logo is primarily based off white propellors on a blue sky.

  • rob

    interesting comment from bill… so the youtube video posted on BMW's official channel is incorrect?

  • Jay Allen

    A book I read ( on cars ) said the logo was blue sky and white clouds divided by a propeller. Nice looking bike

  • Nice homage to the 1980's. I am a huge fan of the 1978 to 1983 era of the AMA Superbike Production Class (Wes Cooley and that lot). The rear fender/seat combo is 100% sweet! Hit that period right on the head. I'm not sure about those headlights. I'd have gone with an 80's *square* headlight on that bike … that type fits nice with the square rear end. (Uh oh .. best ~duck~, I can already see the rocks coming in from the tossers!).

    Those are personal preference issues that are easily changed from bike to bike. That crap aside your bike is realy nice. Great looking *daily rider* too.

    Being a dum Yank, I've never ridden an Airhead Beemer (uh .. any Beemer for that matter). One thing that always comes to mind when I see one is … how do the jugs hold up in a crash? Seem they're so vulnerable. Again … ignorant yankee numbnuts here so forgive the naivete.

    Nice bike, excellent effort.!!

  • Herb

    Great article, but the BMW logo is definitely based on the Bavarian national colors/Bavarian flag. Here's the official from BMW:

  • Andrew

    From Wilipedia:
    "The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is portrayed by BMW as the movement of an aircraft propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky – an interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, twelve years after the roundel was created. The emblem evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew, combined with the blue and white colours of the flag of Bavaria, reversed to produce the BMW roundel. However, the origin of the logo being based on the movement of a propeller is in dispute, according to an article posted in 2010 by the New York Times, quoting "At the BMW Museum in Munich, Anne Schmidt-Possiwal, explained that the blue-and-white company logo did not represent a spinning propeller, but was meant to show the colours of the Free State of Bavaria."

    Can we talk about the bike now?

  • beardo

    those two-light headlights are heinous and should be banned from all bikes

  • VonYinzer
  • mgm

    It's mostly nice. I like the headlights on other bikes but on this one it makes the front end look way to high. Dropping the headlights down & out would help the looks. I had a pair of those lights on a ducati monster & functionally they are many steps above what was on the bmw before. Not a fan of the seat style nor the blue/red/white on the seat/tank. The painted on rivets are just plain tacky.

  • Great work on the bike Pierre! I met you and your bike on the Pipeburn ride, at that stage the bike was without the graphics. I've got to say it looks bloody awesome with the graphics, it really adds that great finishing touch to it. I'm still undecided about the twin headlamps though 😉

  • Michiel

    @ VonYinzer
    at least we can agree on the first sentence of the article, we're all a bunch smart asses =)

  • @Michiel Agreed. You guys…

  • matthew

    i wouldve mounted those lights much lower. the front looks like it's raked out…. without being raked.

  • revdub

    Dig that paint scheme a lot. Very cool.

  • Saw the bike at the pipeburn ride. I really liked it then (especially the tank when it didn't have the logos and rivets) and took a few photos as the quality was top notch. Since then you have really made it yours which is what its all about. Good on you Pierre.

  • jack

    calls a bike "old school": puts brand new parts on it.

    thats not how it works mate, sorry.

  • I like the twin headlamps. I would like to know where to buy them with clear lenses.

  • That factoid about the logo was in the Sean Connery movie, "Finding Forrester." Always wondered if that was true…

    Anyway, gorgeous bike. Don't typically go in for all black bikes, but this one works quite nicely.

  • revdub

    @jack – every "old school" bike I've owned have had some new parts. In fact, most "old school" bikes featured on this site have upgraded new parts. Is this your first time here? You and I must have two completely different ideas of what makes a bike "old school."

  • G unit

    Hey, are you gonna roll out some stickers of your new Pipeburn logo? Hoping so, its Ace, I have a space on my black and white sticker covered tail just for it. Cheers.

  • XcaptainXbloodX


    I think he was meaning "modern" more than "brand new". that style of dual headlight, the LED turn signals, Rizoma (or Driven) blue ano grips, digital speedo/tach, CF covered battery and round bar end mirrors are very much a newschool (err 90s+ at least) move.

    I think thats kinda what kills it for me, nice simple retro paint on a classic BMW then off to ebay for some streetfighter parts? lost me.

  • revdub

    Ah. I hear that, Captain. That makes sense. My apologies, Jack.

  • Andy

    The bike presents itself nicely. I think the front lights could definitively go as well as the digital ebay stuff. The two tone matte gloss paint job and the seat (suede and leather combo) are pretty damn good. The bike was clearly done on a budget. Good on you for having a go. Not an easy bike to make look good.

  • Leon

    Bonjour, il y a une faute, en français ce n'est pas "veille école" mais "vieille école"….eurk
    But it's a good cafra!

  • chris

    Salut, très bonne réalisation j'adore, !
    Bonne continuation!

  • Ju

    euh… very nice bike, but would have been even nicer if he wrote "vieille" correctly!!! if he meant "old school", then something's wrong here!!!! he wrote "veille" then it means "watch" (as in "veille concurrentielle" which means "competitive intelligence" – watch what your competitors are doing), and I don't think it was his goal here! pretty strange for a French guy, he probably spent too much time abroad!!!

  • Kyle

    Those are the best looking wheels I have seen in a very long time. This bike is very classy.

  •  I would like to know where to buy them with clear lenses.

  • Daniel Hall

    On my journey for a new digital Speedo/Tach that doesn’t look like garbage, I found the one he is using. As close as I can tell, it’s an Acewell 2853 Digital Speedometer/Tachometer. Stateside, i found one here for a decent price:

  • BSAMatt

    I have a 1979 BMW R65 for a couple of years, and am now just starting to formulate ideas for making it ‘my own’.  I do like 90% of the styling on this bike, but like some of the posters above, am less enthralled with the headlight and the seat (though the rear cowl treatment is sweet).

    I have one question for the BMW cafe builders wh remove the rear engine panels which houses the breathers and air cleaners…where do you now mount the clutch lever???

    BTW, Billy Joel, whether you love or don’t love his music, has a large and very fine motorcycle collection, but his daily rider is a 79 BMW R65.

  • Pierre, pourquoi “veille école”? et non “vieille école” ?? (it’s a spelling mistake).. veille = eve, vieille = old

  • simon82ls

    I have a cafe racer bmw r65ls tops out around 200kph with easy cruising at 160, standard diff and gearing, only mechanical upgrades are twin 34mm mikuni carbys and reverse cone mufflers

  • Ian

    How did you change the speedo??? Please help??

  • alex

    a popular misconception, it comes from the company that used to make plane engines, raff which got the idea from the bavarian colors.