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1985 BMW R80 ST by Fuel Motorcycles

Posted on October 19, 2014 by Scott in Scrambler. 39 comments


Written by Martin Hodgson.

As static pieces of motorcycle art the creations of Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles are perfectly at home amongst the best in the business. The fact that they also excel at the tough world of long distance trial riding is truly incredible. Inspired by the heyday of International Six Days Trials proprietor of Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles Karles Vives builds some of the most battle hardened customs on the planet, not built just to look like they can take on desserts, they can and do! So when Didier, a French customer saw Fuel’s own R80 STrial, he made the call and ordered one customised just to his liking.


The blank canvas is a 1985 BMW R80 ST thoroughly eliminated of everything Karles deems unworthy of his creations. Borrowing from the BMW parts catalogue is the more suitable K75 sport front end that required modifications to the axle and triple trees to work. Designed in house by Fuel and then built by a brake specialist is the front stopping power that includes a large 320mm disc, Brembo 4 piston caliper and Nissin master cylinder.


Didier’s brief included a seat capable of riding two up, a distinct difference from the original STrial which is strictly solo. With this in mind Karles developed an entirely new sub frame that is both shorter and narrower than stock and importantly much stronger for those long days off road. Ensuring the rear tyre is planted and handling all manner of terrain is a multi-adjustable Wilbers shock, while rider and potential passenger sit in style on the hand crafted Fuel seat.


With the rigors of trials riding reliability becomes hugely important if you don’t want to get stranded out in the wilderness. So the emphasis is on keeping things simple, but that didn’t stop Karles from fitting a 2 plus 2 exhaust arrangement with stunning Hoske mufflers. While the engine remains distinctively BMW the tank is in fact taken from a Kawasaki z900 and painted like the original STrial giving the otherwise boxy Bavarian some distinctly flowing lines.


Completing the form and function of this special trials machine are Tomasselli handlebars and SW-Motech on-Road/Off-Road Footpegs for controls while a Motogadget speedo relays the vitals. The headlight is taken from a classic Spanish trials bike mounted with Fuel brackets and Indicators from Moto Posh Japan. The front and rear guards, spoked rims and Continental TKC 80 tires complete the utilitarian trials look.


And if you still weren’t convinced of Karles trials credentials the crew at Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles organise the annual Scram Africa, a trip of more than 2000 km for classic trail and neoclassic bikes to the south of Morocco by road, trail and dune. And with everything from factory built adventure bikes from the big makers to one off Fuel customs it surely must be a sight to see.



Photography by Jordi Cortes

  • arnold

    Like the ride position, thanks.


  • TJ Martin

    Nicely done . Top notch craftsmanship . The details … are well detailed . Unfortunately though its yet another one of a plethora of far too many like it … and boring as watching paint dry to look at . But … at least its not ugly or offensive … and again … it is well done .. so overall …. its ……. OK .

    • TJ Martin

      … and err … just to be a bit contentious about it … Its like having Steve Forbert shoved down your throat after years of listening to Bob Dylan . One [ Dylan ] being the original … the other … just another clone trying to make good on someone else’s hard work . So there ! 😉

      Rock On – Ride On – Remain Calm [ despite it all ] and do Carry On .. as will I

      • B. J. Parker

        TJ, why don’t you start posting some of your builds alongside your negativity towards others? I think it’s the only way to validate any of the words you level against others.

        • James duke

          Because the lighting in his Moms basement is not very good LMAO Iv’e seen his negative posts every time I come here I see this joker .

          • TJ Martin

            Yeah … and you’ve read so many of my posts now haven’t you ! Oh wait … in light of the fact that at minimum 80% of my posts are either complimentary or at least partially complimentary … as this one is [ if you’d bother to read it ] … Why .. no you have not .. read ALL my posts that is . Which errr … kind of makes your whole point errr … completely irrelevant . As are you perhaps … not accusing mind you … simply inquiring


            Ya gotta just love a bunch of guys that can dish it out left and right … yet when the tables are turned resort to petty immature insults and crying to the site owner . . or not

        • The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…
          The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

          • revdub

            Well played.

        • TJ Martin

          …. you first !

          • bjparker

            Working on a ’65 T100 right now. I’ll submit it when I’m finished, but I think it’s leagues below the stuff on here so I’ll be surprised if it makes it (which is usually why I only post my compliments to the bikes that show up here…). I will however, at least include a pic and link in a comment or something when I’m finished. I’m expecting it’ll be road worthy in about a month or so. I’ll update you then. Till then, give us a peek at any of your projects.

          • bjparker

            One more note. I was sincerely not trying to insult you or story things up. I really was asking you to post something you’ve made to balance out your critiques. Take Mule for example. I think he’s a bit sharp a lot of times, but when I browse the work he’s done, he’s kinda earned the right to tell guys like me (who’ve built two bikes) that we’re headed in the wrong direction. TJ, I sincerely wish you the best of luck on all of your builds and look forward to any you might share with us.

      • foiled again

        What does Dylan have to do with anything? You’re like a Möbius strip of inapt comparisons.

        • TJ Martin

          No surprise what so ever that the Dylan/Forbert analogy went right over your head . As it was intended to . Nice try though with the out of context $10 word 😉

          On a separate note … no surprise you’d find this bike excellent either . Excellent not being a word who’s actual definition you’re in the least bit familiar with

          • foiled again

            Try again, dingleberry. Familiar with Forbert, not that it matters.

            Why don’t you go spread some more sunshine at Petrolicious? I understand they’re just tickled with all your elderly malarkey over there.

          • You seem to tend toward Dylan-based references lately. Can you shake it up maybe? If you’re gonna take up space, might as well be a little creative…
            Reading your comments, it’s almost akin to…
            watching paint dry…

      • catalyst385

        TJ, you’re the biggest tool on this site, and awfully condescending considering no one but you considers you an authority on motorcycles. You’re not offering harsh criticism, you’re just bring a douche.

        On a separate note, this bike is excellent! Great job, guys!

        • TJ Martin

          So Andrew … how is it you come to me criticizing my posts and siding with the Tyranny of the Masses in private …. and yet allow crap like the above insults to stand ?

          Suffice it to say Andrew … either your rules apply to all … or you need to admit your so called rules and standards need some serious revamping

          • foiled again

            Please don’t ever go away, Teej- mind if I call you Teej?- because all you do is confirm what a pseud you are.

            Has it ever occurred to you there are individuals that stop in here occasionally that have forgotten more than you’ll ever know about motorcycles, music, art, and so forth?

            Probably not, given what a self-deluded masochistic schnook you appear to be.

            Because, you see, we’re all just a bunch of dummies, waiting around for you to convey your staggering knowledge of all things upon us.

            So please stick around- yanking your dippy little chain is going to be great fun, Charlie. Stop by again soon!

        • TJ Martin

          Oh .. apologies … the separate note on the word ‘ Excellent ‘ was intended for you not FA

          • James duke

            LMAO Get over it knob boy , Everyone here is sick of your knobbyness LMAO From now on I’ll address you as “Your assholliness ” Now bj martin throw a fit and have me banned from posting if you can ? Poor little Knob your life must be so sad .

  • Justin Lantz

    Trials? I don’t get it. This bike isn’t going to jump up a 6ft rock shelf and hop to the nearest boulder anytime, ever.

    • Fantome_NR

      People who are more into lifestyle and branding than they really are into actual motorcycling are now tossing the term “Trials Bike” around to describe a bike that has any amount of off road pretense, the same way they misuse the terms “Cafe Racer” or now “Street Tracker,” to describe any mildly customized bike that has a slightly sporty character.

      This is actually a pretty good example of a straight up scrambler, which would be better as such if it had high pipes and a sump guard. A very nice bike though, regardless of the silly and misapplied buzzword labels.

      Refreshing to see functional fenders front and back, no pipe wraps, a real seat that won’t break your tail bone should you actually ride over a rock or a log, and hey look, a mirror! Not a trials bike, but a very nice country roads machine indeed.

      • arnold

        Trials in Europe is a vastly different sport from what we think of in America. Same with hill climb and football.ald

        • Fantome_NR

          No, over there trials (in French just the word “trial” singular) are what we call trials too. The ISDT event they are referring to, as was the Paris Dakar and similar rally races over land, is in a category of riding called Sport Adventure riding. It is a time trial, but it isn’t the style of riding called “trials”. It’s confusing, I know.

    • The “Trials” here is not referring to the light weight rock hopping kind of trial bike but rather the old International Six Days Trial – ISDT ( see On Any Sunday in which Malcolm Smith wins a gold medal on a Husky). These bikes were modified street bikes or enduros competing over six days on different sections or courses. They could be big heavy bikes like the one’s fielded by the BMW team or Triumph twins like the one ridden by Steve McQueen in the 1964 ISDT in East Germany. So I think this bike is a tip of the hat to those ISDT bikes of yore.

      • TJ Martin

        On one hand you’re right . But on the other .. this bike is a whole lot more pretense than reality when it comes to the ISDT even of years gone by . So A) A tip of the hat ? Or B) A pretentious attempt to cover up a distinct lack of originality ? I’ll go with … B

        And on that note no doubt … See y’all on the funny pages .. or here … what ever the case may be . Cause in reality I’ve been around long before sites like this existed … and all bets are I’ll be around long after they’re all gone . Such is the reality of Quality versus the Ephemeral .. as excellent as the ephemeral might be .

        And may the memory of Robert Hughes live for ever on despite todays addiction to mediocrity

        Sincerely ; TJ – aka GuitarSlinger … for those of you a little slow on the draw

        • catalyst385

          Ugh… get over yourself, you unbearable prick.

  • Greg

    That tank is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for. Custom or repurposed?

    • Fantome_NR

      from the article: “tank is in fact taken from a Kawasaki z900”

  • Jeffrey Wallis Bell-Zekas

    This the bike BMW should have built at the factory… just lovely…

  • One clean bike!

  • Beautiful homage to the ISDT bikes of the past. The tank and the skinny fenders give this bike a lightweight, airy look – in fact it looks more like a brit bike of the 60’s rather than a teutonic heavy. The seat looks comfortable – a rideable customs – who would have thought? This is one classy build that Dylan would have loved to have ridden.

  • TwoSmoke

    This is a really clean looking bike. Fine craftsmanship!
    TJ, there is a difference between being a pretentious dick and constructive criticism. I’m sure you’re just here to feed off of everyone else’s reactions though. Fucking troll.

  • TJ Maddawg Martin, think you can get to your point without all the freakin’ ellipses please? Unless you have emphysema, it makes… you sound… like the wheelchair kid… off Malcolm… in the Middle…

    • oh, the bike. like the look, would maybe pick different tyres. well done

      • foiled again

        Ha! The ellipses! See, this is all about Teej attempting to distract folks from neat bikes.
        And it is a very snappy bike.

  • bjparker

    I’m always a sucker for the lines of a bike and I think that Karles has nailed it here. This bike has just the right mix of old/new and form/function for my liking: the motogadget is a great streamlined update (did he also use the m-unit?), the brakes, shock, and signals all mesh really well with the classic vibe of the bike. And if this guy is building bikes that can handle the Scram Africa race, I’ll be the first in line to pony up some cash–that is if I had it. Well done.

  • Biff

    It is hard to believe what a difference a tank makes. The seat/tank combination makes the bike look lighter, quicker, and more agile. To me, one of the defining features of the old Z1 was the sleek, organic shape of the tank. A real leap forward back in the day.
    This particular build looks like a very competent dirt road brawler. Seat looks comfortable and the ergos are right. Well done

  • Matt Cuddy

    I like the Ossa Stiletto influence with the rear fender/number plate unit. You guys made a nice desert bike, but where’s the skid plate? A skid plate can be used for bashing into giant rocks on a steep downhill to slow the bike down. Take it from me, and my brake-less Bultaco days.