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‘80 BMW R100RT – Russell Mechanica

Posted on October 25, 2013 by Andrew in Café Racer. 68 comments

After just arriving back from today’s Deus Bike Build-off and chatting with Darren, the overall winner, it’s more than a little ironic that our latest bike is in many ways a European equivalent to the builds we drunk beer between today. She too is a creation that is more concerned with the raw spirit of custom bikes than the superficial glitz and glamour that some parts of the scene seem to dwell on. She was built on a tight budget and without any professional help. And lastly, but most importantly, she took out the first prize at the 2013 Wheels and Waves show in Biarritz this year. Meet Russell Mechanica’s down and dirty ‘La Pantera’.

“My name is Eduardo Iglesias. I am a 38 year old fireman located in Asturias in the north of Spain where there are some pretty awesome roads to ride. I have a six year old son and another that is coming in January. I’ve been tuning up bikes since I was very small. Some were to restore, but others to make them look different and better. Most of the bikes were small capacity and were made for me and my friends. As you can probably tell, bikes are important to me. I love all the good things they stand for… the freedoms, friendships, trips and family.”

“I’ve been seriously customising bikes for about 6 years now, but it was just this year when I decided to take it on as a second job. We named the shop ‘Russell Mecanica’ after my dog, ‘Paco’. He’s a Jack Russell, and he’s always with me. Sometimes, he even gives me some inspiration.”

Loving the spotlight

“I traveled a lot to France and the UK a few years ago, and it was all the bikes I saw there, mixed with me working on the old Spanish ones locally that gave me my ideas. This is why there is always something about me in every bike I do. I also try to avoid falling into the trap of searching for the really old bikes that are expensive and not so good to ride. Like most places, in Spain we have a lot of 80s and 90s bikes that are powerful, fun to ride and cheap.”

“The bike is a 1980 BMW R100RT. I bought it with the idea of turning it into something unique. It was running but it was in pretty bad shape. I decided not to do a full restoration; instead I wanted to keep all her ‘war’ marks. I knew the last owner and it was well maintained, but overall it wasn’t how I really imagined. I tore down the engine and made it run perfectly with some aluminum competition pistons and whatever other new parts it needed. I wanted it to be fast, but more importantly strong. These BMWs are amazing. The engines are very simple and strong, with heavy parts that make you feel as you work on them that they can last forever.”

“I made the bike all by myself and for myself. It took about 8 months. I really wanted a comfortable bike that I could ride frequently. I also painted it. My inspiration was to do something different using my creativity and parts form other donor bikes. The front brake is from a Suzuki GT 750 and the forks are from a Sanglas 500 cc. The seat is from an old racing OSSA and there are also some new parts, including the handmade back frame, exhausts, tank, light and tachometer.”

“Roland Sands said,
‘Now this is a real badass bike.’”


Ed takes the Panther for a walk

“We took a little road trip and entered it at the Wheels and Waves 2013 show in Biarritz. We were luck enough to take home first prize. I was speechless. Roland Sands said, “Now this is a real badass bike.” I will remember that for the rest of my life.” That’s the bedtime stories to the grandkids sorted, then. Nice work, Ed. Nice work.

[Photos by Luis Hevia]

  • vachequipis

    Stop this air head love in NOW! It’s not good, the prices of these pieces of junk are going through the roof! How are us loweley people ever going to afford one! Every time I see a complete build like this my heart sinks and wallet cries.

  • Paul McM

    Now tell me why this bike should win anything other than a slap-in-the-face for the builders. Where do we start with the stupid list? No front fender. No center stand (one of BMW’s best features). Downgrade to drum front brake (hey why not go with no brake at all if you’re willing to trade function for looks). Useless fly screen that looks like it was sourced from an office trash bin. Silly upswept pipes that bump into your legs. No passenger seating capability at all. Why am I not surprised that in the photo the rider is wearing a hoody and open face helmet (so great at high speed we all know) and tennis shoes. Stupid is as stupid does. And why am I not surprised that R. Sands likes this big lump of ugly. He has specialized in ruining good utilitarian bikes by adding nonsensical styling elements. This bike is the rolling equivalent of a really bad tattoo — a screaming testament to the bad taste and stupidity of its owner.

    • please just shut up

      Please shut up.

      • 949FXDF

        Paul hates fun.

    • Karl O

      Now tell us why any bike should be as utilitarian as you’d have it judging from your remarks? I find it quite offensive suggesting the bike and owner are stupid! In all honesty, personally, I am not too keen of all those Bimmer 1200GS ridin’ weekend warriors, clad in color matched apparel, oozing every single Touratech upgrade who get off their ride to polish off the flies after a few miles on the road. Am I going to objectify them: sure. Am I going to insult them or deny their biker’s blood? Heck no! Each to their own. We all ride what we love and how we love it. This bike here is testimony of her owners good taste and perspective on motorcycling, someone who went through the troubles of a custom build to get exactly what they want – not some shining beacon of catalog parts ordered off of the net during your white-collar lunch break! Be critical if you need to, but do show some respect for someone else’s dream & hard work.

      • russelmecanica

        thanks man

    • Geno

      Imagine living life as Paul McM… no thanks!

      • russelmecanica

        no thanks!!

    • Richard Gozinya

      I get the bike not being your cup of tea, I do. But, you seem to have gone beyond that, to the point of being offended by its existence. The guy didn’t build it for you, he built it for himself. Maybe he happens to like drum brakes and a solo seat. Not my particular taste, but so what? The craftsmanship, and how well the builder realized his vision, are of more importance to me. And on that level, it’s a really great bike. It looks great, is obviously put together very well, and the guy seems to love riding it.

      Get over yourself.

      • russelmecanica


    • Skids

      Dream it Build it Ride it….Feel it…………then we shall talk.

      • russelmecanica

        thats it!!

    • Andrea Rearte

      I bet the builder could easily take that slap and then go riding through rain, with no fender and still have a lot of fun.

      • russelmecanica

        always fun!!

      • duh

        who rides in the rain anyway?? Only time I do is if I get caught in a rainstorm…I guess if it’s your only mode of transport…not this bike….it aint seeing any rain

    • blackbird

      My God, its guitarslinger, back from the dead.

      • coldsunshine

        Now that’s funny.

  • Andrew! Man, i wish i had’ve known you were at the build-off, would’ve loved to have had a beer with you! Maybe we possibly met but i didn’t know it? Did you happen to speak to a bald git with a orange metal flake triple cafe? LOL
    Oh, i like this write up mate, and although I’m not the biggest fan of old beemers, I am a fan of headlight cowls… And i dig the cowl on this 🙂

  • Josh Withers

    Very cool. Those look like the 30’s-40’s R12 BMW exhaust that I used on my build. I found that they restricted the top end power though. love those old grimeca looking brakes too.

  • Lewn

    Wow, managed to make a bimmer look pretty!

    I’d lose the white pipe wrap, looks like someone broke their arm!

  • itsmefool

    “Wow,” he said, “what a nice pair of headlights!”

  • Spyker May

    Editor: why so many views from the front 3/4r..?

  • revdub

    Very cool bike and beautiful photography. I really like the seat/tail section. It works really well with the proportions of the tank.

  • Interesting build. I like how you can take an airhead and make it your own but still keep the Teutonic roots. I agree with vachequipis that prices of airheads are going up. But K-bikes seem to be getting cheaper and you can make some very cool customs out of those.

  • ccc40821

    At some point, somewhere, someone was killed for that front brake. Really fine motorcycle, but the 4-shoe brake is the crowning touch.

    @ vachequipis & Paul McM:
    I suggest you admire stock bikes instead, because the factories are really excellent at providing all the things you think is wrong with this one.

    @ Eduardo Iglesias:
    I was riding east-west across Northern Spain last year, and I really envy you the ability to go out there and tear up mountains whenever you please.

    @ everyone else: Unexpected Wiki-Trivia:
    In 2008, Asturias had a total fertility rate of 1.07, the lowest in the European Union.[3] Asturias is also one of the least religious areas of Europe. Some 45% of the Asturian population does not believe in god or a life force

    • Paul McM

      I admire many custom bikes — and the artistic and design innovation and craftsmanship that go into them. But isn’t the point to make a machine better not worse, more handsome not more ugly. I’m sorry, the seat/rear cowl is ugly and amateurish, the fairing is ugly, the pipes are ugly. And I question the applause give to someone whose “customizing” is merely meretricious if not foolhardy. I’m tired of bikes that are ratted out for no good reason, with new “features” that simply make the thing a worse-functioning machine. To wit, remove front fender altogether in a place with plenty of rain. That is stupid, it is a foolish concession to questionable “styling”, and ironically, much like the upside-down pipes, going fenderless only makes the bike more annoying to use.

      • bartsky65

        Well ‘Wheels and Waves’ was set up by a group of self congratulating fashionistas for fellow ‘brand’ whores so it’s not surprising. Look at me….I’m wearing a Ruby helmet etc etc.

        • Thanks for that intelligent and witty contribution. I’m sure the W&Ws guys are rethinking their whole raison d’être as we speak…

      • Please shut up, Paul

        The seat looks like it incredibly comfortably cups the rider’s ass, and the lines from the rear 3/4 show how well it suits the BMW tank. The cowl is styles appropriately, as with the height and mass of the BMW tank, you need something around the light to make it look more balanced, less bitsy. This bike isn’t ratted out just because it’s been painted in a matte colour, it’s been finished quite neatly – I really can’t see what you’re complaining about there. The builder said he’s done a road trip on it, so clearly it’s perfectly rideable, and in any case you’re not the one riding it. If you’re tired of bikes like this, or of people who are interested in styling that breaks the mold of factory bikes, don’t go on custom bike websites. These are people who have made their choices for their own interests, and owe nothing to you in their styling. I applaud them for it, and think you should piss off home.

        • russelmecanica

          it is very confortable in deed!! thanks man!

        • duh

          Did you really type..cups the rider’s ass???? I’d like you to walk into the nearest biker bar and stand in the middle and say “cups the rider’s ass” and then start counting and see how long until some smashes you in the face…very “unusual” choice of words. If I’m cupping any rider’s ass she’s already sitting on my lap.

          • Paul did finally shut up!

            I am a biker. I like my ass cupped by my bike. I’m pretty comfortable with that, in both senses of the word. If somebody smashes me in the face because they aren’t comfortable with me talking about my ass being cupped, or Eduardo here’s ass being cupped by his own bike, then the problem isn’t with me. Everyone needs a good ass-cupping.

          • duh…I got an asscupping seat

            ok…walk into a biker bar and say how well your seat cups your ass and report back to us about what happens….it’s ok though…we do get it…..or at least our wives do.

      • Paul, I’d quit while I was behind if I were you…

  • Willowbranch

    I’m curious how the bike was backed up on the beach without leaving any footprints in the cover shot… looks great. Must have raked it afterwords I suppose…

    • Geno

      …and how did they take a photo of the front and rear of the bike at the same time in image 6? Must have chopped the bike in half I suppose…

      • Nah, they made a second identical bike that for that shot… its an old trick.

        • duh

          Are you guys smoking crack??.. crack kills….crack is whack…see above please…repeat after me …..PHOTOSHOP it.

      • duh

        yeah…see comment above. You can do ANYTHING with Photoshop

        • Geno

          …ironic that I have to school someone with the name “duh” on the subtleties of sarcasm. Speedtractor gets it 🙂

          • duh

            I figured you two were not that dumb….the footprints one though..I think that was serious.
            …and the duh screen name is about your comments anyway…duh

            on the other hand..Paul likes his ass-cupped by his seat.

    • duh

      raked?? haha…they raked it with Photoshop…..where ya been??

  • slash5alive

    To me this looks like a 70s batcycle…no thanks.

  • Stephen

    I suppose Roland Sands made the comment after selling him a 350.00 jean jacket

    • russelmecanica

      no jacket sold!!! jejejej

  • vachequichi

    there’s just ONE simple question for me: why put the work of the customizers on challenge on an event like wheels & waves? C’mon guys! The only purpose of this news (meeting was in june…) is keeping talking about an event that soon is gonna be marketized as hell… Now THATS no fun to me.

  • Phooey

    To all the negative and down right rude people out there, custom building is about having a vision and turning it into reality. They dont have to be practical, comfortable for 200 miles or be for the masses, they are an art form of expression and skill. These guys put their results out for us to see and experience, if not for you fine but please do not be rude.
    Why not build one yourself and let us judge you.
    Thank you Eduardo.

    • russelmecanica

      thanks you Phooey!! like you liked it

  • Pascal Bronstein

    Another BMer and another show of bad taste. And Roland Sands is not particularly a reference when you see is iteration of the Bolt.

  • George Millwood

    Great work Eduardo, it looks terrific. But forks from a Sanglas? Wasn’t that the Spanish Police bike which booked me for speeding back in ’75?

    • russelmecanica

      jajaja yes! but not all of them broke!! jajaja

  • coldsunshine

    Here’s what a bike like this does. Some like it. Some don’t like it. The likes have to do with the styling, whether or not it actually “works.” The dislikes have to do with the styling and how it “doesn’t work” (visually or practically, take your pick.) Then a dislike gets rude. Then someone who “likes” runs to the builders defense. Blah, blah, blah back and forth. Then someone says it was built to the A. builder’s wants or B. the buyers wants. Someone else might say to a dislike, “let’s see what you can build!” Either way, it was the choice of someone directly involved and not the choice of any reader here, like or dislike. I’ve read Pipeburn for a couple of years and it is the same thing over and over when a bike like this shows its face. Now is the part where I tell everyone, like or dislike, to get over themselves, have manners and move along. But I won’t play that game. I’m just going to look at the pics and keep my opinions.

    • Styles change over time. They have in the past and will hopefully forever more. Currently, it seems we are going through a trend/fad/phase wherein less is more. However, now the “less” is describing less effort, thought, actual engineering (mechanically speaking), marginal function, less paint, less components that WERE in the past considered necessary, less thought given to a comfortable riding position, etc, etc. Excuses, are quickly made and usually in the bike’s write up. “He wanted the look of”, He was after the steampunk, He liked the rusty old, it’s what the customer wanted, he’s only going down to the coffee shop a couple days a week, it was for a show where you could spend a max of $300″, it’s his first build and on and on. These explanations are getting really tiring.

      How about we get dazzled by high effort, high function, fast, exciting, efficient, incredible handling, super nice workmanship where the guy appears to give a crap about the outcome, something FREAKING different from the first time salvage yard builds? Yes, we all have to start somewhere and everybody has a first built. Most guys would prefer that nobody ever saw their first build when looking back.

      But long term, this is causing a division in the ranks. The motorcycle lovers and the junk/art/rust lovers. Put everybody in the same room and guys like Paul are gonna get fed-up and frustrated. It’s predictable as hell.

      Also, I’m making no reference to the bike featured here. Just the trend in building and comments pertaining to them.

      • bill smith

        I am with you on this one Mr. Pollock. I will not even address the bike currently over at the B E sight. I know each build reflects the builder and their taste and I am pretty open to different styles and periods but lately some bikes just do not make sense to me. Maybe I am getting old and I am not really that old.

        • bill smith

          By the way I do like certain aspects to this bike and overall it is a good looking bike.

        • LOVE that bike. I think we’ll just have to agree to differ…

      • coldsunshine

        I’ve seen your posts on here for sometime, Mule (I used to be here as Tony Stark, but apparently FB doesn’t think I’m a real person.) You usually offer unique insights with a healthy dose of manners. My reaction is geared toward those who seem to forget that this sight, if I may, is geared to enthusiasts who support the art, science, and self expression that comes from custom bike building.

        • And just like that, common sense prevails.

        • Real person Tony Stark,

          I agree with you completely. The “Art, science(?) and self expression” side of custom bike building tends to lean not towards functional improvement but more towards the extreme non-functional, choppers for the new non-motorcycle educated masses. “This is my first build, so I’ll install knobbies and clip-ons” generation. That’s the stupid side of motorcycling, not the “Art” side. But to the new gen of internet critics, it’s “Cool”. Is that what bike building has been reduced to? Ridiculous, but cool? I agree, we need to push the envelope, but it seems we are cartwheeling backwards.

          • coldsunshine

            Everyone has to start somewhere. However, to the “newbie” builder, just because you CAN do something doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD. Some builds will simply be the “folk art” of bike building.

      • duh

        Do you remember when the AMC Pacer first came out…everyone hated it!…oh wait, maybe that’s not a good comparison here.

        Just having fun here….to each his own. It takes a lot of skill to make a bike like this…bravo for that effort….and to get a bike to cup your ass…that is beyond most “normal” men’s skills.

    • russelmecanica

      sure cold sunshine, bikes are for that, you may love it or hate it!!! this is what we dediced to do with this bike!!

      • coldsunshine

        And I’m glad you did. As I’ve said before, I’d rather see a bike be built than not.

  • Guys. As always, if you don’t have anything constructive to say then we’d kindly ask you to say nothing at all. Calling a complete stranger ‘stupid’ because their tastes don’t align with your own is simply not on. Continued comments along these lines will result in them being deleted and/or us banning you altogether. Thanks.

    • russelmecanica

      Andrew, this is allways like this. I don´t care about comments of the bike, somo love it some hate it. Things cannot be done for everyone. What i reallly despreciate are comentaries about the builder , his style or personal things from people that have no idea of him or what it took to get here. but as always, there ar more people that love bikes and what they represent than comments that are empty before starting to write… thanks to all of you guys!!

      • coldsunshine

        Yeah, what he said.

  • Kevils

    I think He’s Been Looking At My Website

  • Matt R

    I like this bike and being the owner of a 79 BMW which is currently at the crossroads of being either a cafe racer or a scrambler, I appreciate seeing what other’s are doing. In regards to what Paul Mc might say, the bike runs much better now than when I bought it (shed find!), but since I had to replace a few things, I decided to ‘make it my own’.
    That said, I do understand his objection in that a couple of things seem to be a mash up of styles; cafe racer, bobber, street tracker. But all the power to Ed if HE likes it!