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‘83 BMW R80 – The GasBox

Posted on June 25, 2014 by Scott in Bobber. 57 comments


Written by Ian Lee.

There are clean builds. And then there are ‘clean’ builds. Motorcycles so neat, you would imagine the mechanic scrubbing up before working on it. The latest build from Jesse Bassett and The Gasbox is one such build. A BMW special the likes of which the world has never seen, it is born of German build quality paired with American styling cues. These two opposite ideals work together to create a machine that has been built with surgical precision, and comes out looking like something the BMW factory itself would have created, if it had been founded in Ohio instead of Munich that is.


Jesse Bassett is no stranger to the show scene. Looking a few years back, a testament to his skills was his Indian Scout build taking second place to Shinya Kimura in The Quail Motorcycle Gathering. Like Shinya Kimura, Jesse has produced his own style. Although it’s hard to pin a category to place his bikes in, except as customs, Jesse’s bikes are still appealing to the eye and to the heart.


Taking the engine from a 1983 BMW R80, Jesse fabricated a hardtail frame of proportions to suit the boxer engine. The ability to manufacture componentry for the bike inhouse at The Gasbox was a benefit in the build, allowing to Jesse to produce the parts as he saw them in his head. To give that low slung look, the frame neck was manufactured to take a Harley Springer front end. The extra rake, along with the design of the rear frame, allows for the bike to have that low slung look. This is even while riding on fat Firestone 18 inch tyres.


To ensure the smooth flow of the lines of the bike, he took it upon himself to produce some of the major componentry himself. The handlebars, sitting low on the Springer fork, are mounted with a mix of Panhead and Gasbox handcontrols. The fuel tank follows the lines of the frame nicely, with the sides scalloped to give that bobber style riding position. The seat pan is an Aluminium Gasbox special, trimmed by Union Speed & Style, the whole setup sprung from the centre upright to allow some reprieve for the rider’s kidneys.


The engine utilised on the build is standard BMW R80, matched to a five speed from a later BMW R100R. A sweet touch is the Weber side draught carburetor used in the build, it’s angular appearance fitting in with the slab sided aesthetic of the engine. Custom manifolds make up the intake and exhaust systems for the engine, with Jesse ensuring the lines of the bike were kept neat by kicking up the silencers at the rear to follow the frame up towards the rear hub.


The quality in this build shows in the fitment of the wiring harness, as you can’t see in the photos. A custom frame allowed for a custom harness, hidden way where it won’t take away from the viewing pleasure of the machine. At the front end sits a GasBox Foglamp, at the rear a Greeves tail light unit. The more you look, the more you can see how much effort Jesse put into the bike, like the production of the footpegs and foot controls just for this build.


Taking a thirty year old engine, and cloaking it in a frame of his own devising, Jesse and The Gasbox have produced one of the cleanest bikes out on the show scene. Don’t be mistaken though, this bike is ridden, and ridden hard. As Jesse himself says: The bike sounds like an F1 racecar, it goes and handles terrific. In fact, on my first ride I actually scared myself with how fast it was’. With no real style category to place it in, the bike’s look is timeless. It would just as much be at home in 1954 as it does today, it is a bike for the ages.

[Thanks to Iron & Air magazine for the find. For $10 off a subscription, simply type ‘PIPEBURN’ in the promo code at the checkout of their store.]

  • Holy Mary, Mother of God! Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

  • Eli Park-Yanovitch

    This is it. This is The One Build To Rule Them All. And it’s the small touches that really do it. The driveshaft is gorgeous. The way the footpegs and grips complement each other. That incredible carburetor set-up. Just wow.

  • Fantome_NR

    This is very nice indeed but the Kingston Customs bike you posted last month is better.

    • Each to his own.

      • Fantome_NR

        I’m not knocking this bike at all, it’s flawless. I’m just still not over how much I love that KC bike yet 😀

  • WrenchHead

    Very fortunate he put those BMW emblems back on the tank, I mean, how else would anyone know what breed stock it came from! Really clutters it up, though. Heh, joking of course. This is real craftsmanship and style consistent front to rear, and the cantilever mono-sprung seat is a jewel. Damn nice.

  • Mr. LK

    Great job for sure BUT again with the STUPID tires!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Foiled Again

      Get over it. I’m no huge Firestone fan but those puppies look like they were born there.

      • What he said.

        • Bob D.

          I’m with LK. Change out the tires–PLEASE–and this is just about perfect.

          • musacha78

            Ok, first of all, this seriously is one of the most beautiful bikes I have seen!! I really like all the details, it’s just perfect! Even with the Firestone tires. Special about this beauty is that is has a classic look & feel, but it consists of all modern details/elements/parts, etc. I think. In this perspective it might have been cooler if they had dare and go for some modern tires. So I agree a tiny little bit with Mr. LK… But it just doesn’t feel right to have any negative comments on this bike whatsoever!

  • Junior Burrell

    The attention to detail is top notch!!!! Lovin it!!!

  • Tom

    I want… I want to make it dirty

    • musacha78

      No you don’t…

  • Tout simplement sublime ! Good stuff !

  • Old Guy

    One of the best I have seen in a long, long while. Clean and precise, like a scalpel. The only thing that I might question from a functional point of view might be the manifolds from the Weber to the heads. In cooler weather, these might allow the fuel to condense out of the mixture causing some over rich problems. Otherwise, as close to perfect as one could get.

  • Blake Proudfoot

    Might be the first time I’ve seen a bike where effort hasn’t been made to disguise or draw attention away from the shaft drive. Quite the opposite really with how it is accentuated by the frame and Nickel plated? Lovely work.

  • Absolutely gorgeous! I really have a soft spot for bobbers and old BMW’s so this bike punches every one of my buttons. Congratulations on a spectacular build…………the thought, engineering, and execution are truly a cut above.

  • Foiled Again

    This bike shouldn’t work- some of the parts choices are head-scratchers- but it not only works, it kills.

  • I’m in love…

  • Yeah… this is the coolest BMW custom I’ve ever seen. This is what a bobber ought to be, not like that junk they build on the reality tv show. This bike is sublime.

    • arnold

      Your comment was #2on google when I searched “This is what a bobber ought to be, not like that junk they build on the reality tv show.”

      Mr Manx , in our small world, Y’all are a big deal.ald

  • JLantz

    Best custom I’ve ever seen here. The creator is an artist of incredible skill. What an amazing motorcycle!

  • Oldroadie

    So very lovely, even the battery box is lovely, and the attention to detail is fantastic. One of the nicest I’ve ever seen. Bravo.

  • Very nice work! Very nice!

    –Scottie Sharpe

  • Jed


  • Bultaco Metralla

    Fabulous Absolutely Fantastic. What details What a build.

  • Cliff Overton

    Yes.Yes. Yes!!! That carby placement is just superb.

  • nathas909

    This bike is just amazing. I could write for ever all the little bits and pieces I love, but that rear fender keeps jumping out at me. I love it.

  • BoxerFanatic

    At first glance… a hard-tail converted BMW Air-head… a BMW converted to look and ride like a chopper/bobber, which are not my personal cup of tea.

    But then… I saw those carburetor velocity stacks… WAIT A MINUTE… That is a side draft webber-style carburetor… and a single tube frame… and look at all these cool, intricate, masterful details….

    This is a very cool bike, and as I mentioned, I am not a huge fan of hard-tails, bobbers, and choppers. Really amazing workmanship.

  • Jim Bob

    Not as sweet as Kevils Speed Shop’s “Artisan”

    • arnold

      Seriously? “Artisan” is a cut above, But the GasBox is other

    • musacha78

      Don’t go and compare, it’s just not right. And in this case…you’re absolutely wrong.. sorry dude..

  • Hammina

    Yeah, those carbs! sweet. Intake runners on the old bmws are so cool and it sucks when people just throw pods on them and lose one of the most unique parts of the beemer box. But he enhanced that and took it a few steps further. I don’t even know what kind of fab is necessary to clean up that carb placement like that.
    That light bronzing tone is nickel plating? Lovely

  • Jeff

    lol, put some wings over the pistons and she will fly

  • Ed Hunt

    This is nice. I would park it in my living room except I would have to dust it.

  • Scott

    From a slightly different perspective I’d have to say that he photography of this bike is outstanding. So clean you could eat off of it! There is incredible detail to be found in Jesse’s work and it is that clean. I happy to be the photographer shooting it!

    • musacha78

      You did a fantastic job as well :-)! Maybe you can make my bike look like this ;-)?!

  • clegg

    Helmet off to the builder! I would love to know more about the electrics – ie coils etc – presumably a lot is tucked under the tranny- thats one of the beautiful aspects of this build – guessing what was done-and staring at so little to see in the photos. Just to repeat some of the other commentators – the Webers are lovely- and look so natural there. Having 300,000 miles on my boxers- I would love to ride this to feel the differences. Good for you!

  • YearOfTiger

    great looking bike. i wouldve liked a round headlight instead but only my opinion


    This looks good, but I don’t like the rear fender… 🙂

  • Hard tail, springer front end, drum brakes, “handles terrific”? Really.

    • Davidabl2

      I’d have to confirm that “terrific” with a test ride…

  • Bike of the year, gentleman?

    • arnold

      Keep up the good work.
      There is better, not many, I am sure.
      How was your Norte american tour andrew?

    • pony

      Going on the overwhelmingly positive comments – yes.
      It’s impeccably clean, the lines are fantastic and the workmanship is top notch, plus it’s not clichéd; got to be a contender.

      However, it’s only end of June!

    • JamesM

      You heard it here, second.

  • Phooey

    It is simply stunning, they have created a piece of art without knowing it. The ability to carry that picture in your head and transfer it into this finished article is nothing less than genius. I don’t care if some parts aren’t ‘practical’, who cares when this is what you can achieve. Long live the custom builders, showing us mortals what can be achieved with vision and hand work, thank you Gasbox. p.s. Great write up.

  • Andrew Rogers

    I never thought of mixing a BMW boxter in a hard tail bobber. Explains why I don’t create bikes. Beautiful build.

  • Erik Harland Ludwig

    Amazing vision and talent. Nice Work.

  • Johnny Panda

    Beautiful piece of rolling art….

  • James duke

    Pure ART work simple work of Art

  • MaxwellHazan

    This bike is amazing.

  • Richard

    could use aircleaners

  • Ian Solley

    I built one a bit like this 4 years ago – but this is very nice too

  • mercdem2

    I remember this bike from the motorcycle show like 4 years ago. Fantastic build and the only bike I took more than one photo of. Clean as a hounds tooth.