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1980 BMW R80/7 Café Racer

Posted on April 14, 2012 by Andrew in Café Racer, Classic. 32 comments

Darkness. Sweet bike. Expensive camera. Empty lot. What could possibly go wrong?

Here’s a encore bike from one Mark Byfield. He’s an owner/builder that caused quite a stir with his first bike, an faired ’85 R80 that would easily make our all-time top 10 list. This time he’s shaken things up a bit and gone with, erm, another R80. But has he ended up in a similar place? Hells no – for here we see not a beautiful, bare-bones faired racer but instead a caffed-out daily rider with a padded seat, a toaster tank, and some very exxy-looking front brakes. Mark seems to have a knack for making a lot out of a little cash and a large, overflowing bucket of DIY skills. Don’t you just hate him?

Here’s the man himself. “It’s a 1980 R80/7 that i picked up from eBay. It was a good old touring rig with a big fairing and comfortable seat. Obviously things had to change.”

“It was stripped down and the wiring was sorted out with the inclusion of an Acewell instrument unit. Anything non essential was dropped off.”

“Next was the bodywork which entails a toaster tank bought from the states, a CB500(?) seat and modified rear sub frame. The rear wheel was then changed out for a /5 spoked unit and the front wheel for a TZ 4LS brake with and flanged rim. Classic tyres finished off the wheels.”

The donor bike, replete with it’s 1970s “I can smoke a cigarette AND do the ton” screen

“The exhaust is stock apart from after market mufflers that give a nice loud burble. The controls consist of ace cafe bars and after market throttle and levers with alloy rear sets for the brakes and gears. Not particularly comfortable but makes for an engaging ride. It was a really fun build, except for the bit where I had to pay for the 4LS front wheel…”

  • blackbird

    Hey Mark. Where did you get that swank little tach-o-meter? I dig it. Also, I can’t tell from your pics but is there still sub frame under that seat?

    • Mark Byfield

      The tacho is an Acewell from Flatracer in the UK. It comes with everything needed for airhead beemer fitment. The subframe is still there, albeit modified and concealed by the CB seat overhang.
      I can really recommend the Acewell, not too bad to fit and full functionality.

    • Motog

      See comment below in reply to Otter re tacho.

  • blackbird

    PS. Sorry to be critical but that street light is a bit rough. Those buggers tend to throw a sickly yellow green ,on the cold side, on everything that hits um. You can compensate with your camera W.B. but its still a struggle for most brands of camera. Also, your lighting is warm in photo three and cool in photo four, no bueno. I would like to make a frinedly suggestion of investing in some pro photo bulbs. They are cheap and user friendly ranging from 5 to 7 dollars, get a handful of hours out of um, can be purchased from most local photo stores and give a nice true color to what you are shooting when you sync the white balance on your camera to the color temp printed on the phot bulbs. Super easy. You might spend 15 to 25$ for three bulbs but the difference in quality, when you look at your images, will knock your socks off. You will also be able to shoot at a much lower ISO range between 100 and 400, this will give you less grainy images of your bike (unless arthouse is the goal) and you wouldn’t have to use artsy presets on the camera for effect and your photie will look as good as your machines do. I just hate to see you put all that effort, care and time in to your machine and then shoot under sickly lights. Just doesn’t do your work justice ya know? Thanks for sharing your project my friend! 

    • $30724656

       are you serious?

      • blackbird

        Well, no, not if you disagree Kevin Newell, Ill go with what ever you feel is the correct opinion. 

    • I love a man with who stands by his opinions…

  • Pwilliam

    LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT! This is one of the most attractive bikes I have seen on this site! Great build!

  • $30724656

    Sweet ride I particularly like the seat it’s what we used call back in the day diamond tuck and roll very nice.

  • otter

    i have an r60/6 and i love this bike, very well done. wondering where you got the gauge and if it needs an adapter to work, thanks.

    • Motog

      It’s an electronic Acewell unit ( Those of us with BMWs tend to use them as aftermarket replacements because BMW speedo ratios aren’t the same as for other bikes (most bikes are 2:1, my R75/5 is 34:10). The electronic unit is calibrated to the wheel diameter by you when you install.

      The speedo part works from a magnet/sender arrangement on one of the wheels (same as a pushbike computer speedo). The tacho unit works by connecting to the spark plug leads or directly to one of the coils.

      • otter

        thanks a ton man, much appreciated. 

        • motog48

           P.S, while the equipment from Acewell is really good, the installment instructions are crap. Reply to this post if you need some photos of how to install the parts.

    • Markjbyfield

      Got the Acewell from Flatracer UK. The kit has everything you’ll need mate 🙂

      • Motog

        Damn, double simultaneous post

  • That is a beautiful machine.  Ridable art!  

  • MWDdog

    This is brilliant. Although it has that big long comfy seat but isnt a 2 up bike!!

  • messerschmidtt

    very nice..I like it..did you change the rocker covers to a../5 type, by chance?

    • Mark Byfield

      I think they are /5. Nice spot!

  • JURP

    Great build….Although I would have cut the grass behind the bike to approximatly 1 1/2 feet. And then would have bordered the curb with Colorado river gravel with just the slightest hint of urban trash, you know, to give it that “raw” look. I mean, if you’re going to build a bike, become a photographer, the least you can do is some landscaping. Hopefully one day your skills as a builder will match those of a grounds keeper.

    • davmo

      LOL.Thanks for the chuckle of the morning.

    • Mark Byfield


  • Paddy

    Wonderful build. Too bad it was run over by a transport truck seconds later. The front mudguard on the original unit is a hilarity. I hope you kept it!

  • laurentheanimal

    Sure shows what you can do. Gorgeous bike! 

  • I just picked up a 1983 R80 and looking to do something similar. Great inspiration! Amazing build!

  • Wow man this pics are really amazing looks like antique…..thanks for sharing

  • cornishman2

    Great looking bike. They really are great bikes to work with, you can pick them up for reasonable money, especially compared to the stock fare of Triumphs, Harley,s etc. Another great thing is the quality of the older alloy, you can really scrub them up with a wire brush on a drill or the like.
    I,m “working” on a R80 mono bobber at present and if it turns out half as good as this i,ll throw some pic,s up.
    Once again great stuff

  • S

    Hello Mark, First of all; some great couple of bikes you’ve made. I m especially interested in the /5 back wheel on a /7 final drive. How were you able to fit those two onto each other?