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’92 R80 BMW Brat Tracker

Posted on July 23, 2012 by Andrew in Brat, Tracker. 56 comments

Tasmania. Home of the Tasmanian Devil, some damn spectacular scenery, and the butt of some pretty unsubtle jokes from the rest of Australia. Americans have quips about “Southerners,” the English make the funnies about the ”Northerners,” and down here we mostly make jokes about Tasmanians. There’s no need to go into detail – you probably get the jist already. But here’s a bike that proves beyond any shadow of a doubt just what these islanders can do. See, they’ve taken a machine that was just about the best the mighty Deutschland could muster and then pushed it a whole lot further than most of us could ever manage. And when I say “they” I really mean the rather talented Nicholas Damen and his rather amazing Bee Emm brat.

“My name’s Nicholas Damen. I’m 29 and I live in Hobart, Tasmania. I’m an Electrician who likes to make surf films in my spare time. When faced with the decision from your old man as to whether you want $3000 cash for your inheritance or his BMW R80, what do you do? Take the BMW and customize it, of course.

My dad Alex has had bikes all his life and bought the BMW around 10 years ago. He had it set up mainly for touring, complete with panniers, crash bars, fairing etc. I’d always liked the big awkward looking cylinder heads on beemers and had one day planned on getting one. I started out wanting to build a café racer but after researching parts and spares I soon realised the BMW café racer had been done many times over and done so well. So I decided to try and do something a little different, I guess I’ve ended up with a street tracker brat.”

“My first bike was a 1982 Suzuki RM80, I bought it for $400 dollars when I was 13 and Dad and myself stripped it down and rebuilt the thing right to the last bolt. I’m so grateful my Father spent this time teaching me valuable skills on repairing and restoring things.

Recently a group of my friends have also purchased bikes to customize and fix up, I guess were I ended up with the bike was a bit of their feedback and some features or styles on stand-out bikes I’d seen online or around the place. Having a bunch of mates around to help and critique my ideas and thoughts was a really valuable thing.”

“The major changes to the bike at this stage have really only been aesthetic. I removed the centre stand, side covers panniers, and all the other stuff that makes a beemer comfortable. I cut the rear sub frame and shortened it and made it thinner to suit the nitro heads tuck and roll seat. Removed the central exhaust vase and mufflers and replaced them with Emgo universal reverse cone shorties. The original instrument cluster was removed and replaced with an Acewell 2853 universal speedo. The rims were sand blasted and powder coated matte black and I had a set of Firestone Deluxes fitted. The front fender is from a local Harley shop and I cut it down and fabricated a mounting bracket to suit. The rear fender and taillight are from Modern Motorcycles in Melbourne. The bars are a set of motocross bars.”

“I went for a ride last week and as I walked back to my bike there were two guys checking out my air filter. I thought to myself, ‘oh gee – what do these old guys want?’ After a few words I soon discover one of them is from Germany. He tells me he likes my bike and asks a few questions, then his mate tells me Adrian, the German guy, actually designed the air box and air intake system for this model BMW and that he used to work for BMW in Germany as an engineer. After talking to Adrian for a bit I soon discover I’ve just met a walking BMW tuning encyclopaedia. I’m going to catch up with Adrian again and hopefully go for a ride and tune my bike a little better.”

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  • I’m not a fan of the whole “brat” thing, but I admire your efforts to go a different direction. The build looks good. And I’m with you about that German horizontally opposed engine; they look really cool. And if you ever get tired of the bike, you can just drop the motor in a bug and off you go!

    That’s cool meeting one of the engineers! Hopefully, he’s a cool enough dude to become a friend.

  • lysdexia

    “. . . his mate tells me Adrian, the German guy, actually designed the air box and air intake system for this model BMW . . . I’m going to catch up with Adrian again and hopefully go for a ride and tune my bike a little better.”

    Five’ll get you 10 he says “Bitte neu installieren das Luft-Kiste, jungen Mannes.” Apparently there is quite a bit of voodoo that goes into designing air boxes.

    • cagivarider

      So ähnlich, ja. 😉

    • JimmyR14

      “please new install the airbox, young man”?

  • Bugeater

    Awe man thats a sweet scoot. I am from Canada and just working in Tasmania right now. Just checked in to drool on the key pad for a bit and was quite surprised to see this awesome little ride was on the same Island as me 🙂 Well im heading down to Hobart in a few weeks I will have to keep my eyes peeled for this bike. Nice work and props for keeping the bike building alive down here man!

    • thanks man :), I hope you have a great time here in Tasmania

  • Even in profile it has a certain classic cum aggressive edge; but when you realise it has the opposed cylinder heads it adds a whole other aesthetic spark; I’d love one…

  • I’ve always liked 4th Reich boxers, especially with the big tank – it adds a lot of visual mass right in the middle of the wheel base. I wouldn’t call this a brat style – it’s too teutonic. Maybe a brat-wurst style.

  • revdub

    The second photo is the money-shot. I really like all the black bits with the contrast of the clean red tank. The seat looks great as well. Nice work.

  • JimmyR14

    That’s great! Love it. I would love to do a beemer like that. Almost bought one last year for my “bike project” but ended up with a Suzuki. That is very much what I would do. Good taste!

    I also like the choice of setting for the photo. We don’t have a lot of moss covered walls here in Perth. Beautiful. Sehr schoen.

  • knox

    Just registered on Disqus only to let you know how awesome this bike looks. I have a ’87 R80 in my garage. The engine was destroyed by the owner by riding it without oil. Now your R80 finally convinced me to try fix the damn thing. Never believed I could start liking BMWs

    • Thanks Knox 🙂 the Beemers are a great bike to work with 🙂

      • knox

        Always thought I totally disliked the Beemer’s Monolever. However, it’s not even bothering me a bit on your bike. Hmm, building bikes and going surfing. You’re not coincidentally looking for an intern, are you? 😉

      • Nicholas where did you get your seat im working on a R65 and i am going for the same look…

  • arnold

    The R-60 was the pinnacle given the time and materials available when it was made and introduced. That being said, BMW as not made a bad bike since. Awkward, yes. Front running, yes. Low sellers, yes. Never bad. Thank you for reviving this machine to something to be wanted again. Must be some Teutonic blood left over in me from the PC purge.ald

    • Swivel

      Quote Arnold:”The R-60 was the pinnacle given the time and materials available when it was made and introduced”They did make a thing called a Vincent I believe.R69S’s were a reasonably fast tourer but the lesser ones were quite agricultural and slow.the early R65’s were vibrating little horrors and the first K100’s threw people off them in straight lines for no real reason,Every company has build bad bikes and BMW are not immune to this problem.

  • Dan in Berkeley

    Nice clean build. Understated with great attention to detail.

    I REALLY dig the turn signals… care to mention where I can find some?


    • The indicators are from these guys in Melbourne Australia

      and here is a blog from the build

      • Orange CB

        Hey Nicholas. Is that you on the bike in the Tumblr pics… going past the ramp/bridge? Are you a tall fellow? You look a bit cramped on the bike? (I want to buy an R80 but don’t want to be cramped… although I’m only 5′ 10″.)

        • yes im taller than normal, also the low seat height dosnt help, The standard bmw seat was higher and not as crouched

          • Orange CB

            Hi Nicholas, not sure if you’re still checking the comments here. But wondering if you kept the 17″ front wheel or did you switch it to an 18″.

  • Oldnbroken

    Thanks Nicholas for not painting stripes on it and calling it “The Thylacine”. It is nice to see these bikes out of their executive suit and tie and stripped down to shorts, singlet and thongs. Even though it is uncomfortably cold down in your part of this country, to me you have managed to raise the temperature of that Beama a few degrees to cool.


    • haa. at one stage i almost removed the heated hand grips, what was i thinking. I managed to relocate the switch and hide it.

      • You bring up an excellent point. There is no reason to remove nice additions just for the sake of building a custom. Granted, there is a lot of junk that can be scrapped, but heated grips is not one of them. Good man for coming to your senses.

    • Thanks for the feedback Jim :), being my first custom build I’m stoked on how it’s turned out 🙂

  • Neil Fenton

    Good clean bike, sir.

  • Desmaniac

    Beat on the brats, beat on the brats, beat on the brats with a baseball bat, Oh, Yeah!
    (This homage to Joey Ramone is meant as a compliment to him and the Brat Tracker).

  • Mgmue mgmu

    I cant find anything at all interesting, memorable or remarkable about that bike. Blah.

    • What kind of bike do you ride?

      • Vested

        A Puch moped that only pedals.

    • Are you related to Guitar Slinger?

    • I cant find anything at all interesting, memorable or remarkable about your comment. Blah.

  • nobby

    Beautiful bike fellas. Love it.

  • i need a seat like that one… any suggestions?

  • someone tell me where he got that seat!

  • this bike totally inspired us, can you give us a hint as to the tires, we couldn’t find out dimensions, brand etc.We guess you had the saddle custom made? many thanks for a feedback

  • tOm

    Hello! That’s a great job, this sunday I buy my “new” 1990 R80RT and I will do something close from this wonderful motorcycle!!!
    I had a question, with speed sensor adaptator did you use??? Thank you so much for your help!
    Best regards

  • this is longitudinal engine ? am i right ?

  • Hi!,
    I’m about to buy one of those bmw and the look of the seat si very important to me.
    Are you using a Nitrohead bratstyle of your catalog, for 400 SR?
    Your bike looks terrific and you gave me inspiration…

  • Michael Martin

    Did you removed the fork stabilizer? Does a custom aluminium fender fits between the firestone tires and the stabilizer? I’am not sure if the firestone 4.50 tires works with a fender.

  • Maciej

    Hello! Great bike, Nicholas! I’am Maciej form Poland. I’m just lookin’ for an inspiration to rebuilt my BMW R80. Your project is fantastic! Could you tell me what size is a rear fender (I know that it’s from Modern Motor Cycle Co.) and what is a size of firestone deluxes? Thank you! Greetins form Europe!:-)

  • Like the exhaust position, might take that and use it on my BMW build. I guess you cut back the original headers. Mine kick up at the end and adding similar silencers to yours has some clearance issues around the brake and footpeg, your way would be an elegant solution.
    Very well balanced look about your machine, well done, looks fantastic.

  • Marco

    Hello I am Marco from Chile ,please tell me how can I contact Nitro Head Seats for a BMW R80 seat ,PLEASE !!??

  • massimo

    Hello! It’s massimo from italy!
    I really love how you build your bike,it’s really clean and look very nice!
    Can you say me what tires size have u on it??

  • Robbert Carr

    THAT is a nice set of mods. You have a good eye. I’m looking at an ’85 R80 this afternoon. You have inspired me.

  • gallo

    Hi, pls give us the size of the firestone classics front and rear,



  • John Anderson

    love the bike mate did you make the fenders your self?

    • Christophe

      Very inspiring bike, I love it. I discovered it 6 months ago. I immediately flashed on it (is it English? We say it in French, I’m sure u will understand). I immediately thought: I want this bike… And I want to do it myself!
      The ongoing project will be a bit different. I went to Stuttgart, Germany, bought a (19 years old and more or less brand new) R100R, rode back to Paris, began to work on it. I’m not found of BMW tanks, I’m changing it for a (mythic) Kawasaki 900 Z1 which surprisingly fits very well (estheticly and technically). I might even keep the Kawasaki logos as the Parisian Blitz Motorcycles uses to do. The seat is less flat, inspired by a Rickman model. I try to get the same turn lights. I hope that despite this differences, the spirit will remain the same. A kind of Tasmanian art of the cool. Not bad to ride in the streets of Paris, no?

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  • Luan

    Good Job, its a great Bike. I love it.

  • joe

    Whats the tyre sizes front and rear, really love the way it sits with those tyres??