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‘72 BMW R75/5 – Tattoo Custom Motorcycles

Posted on December 15, 2014 by Scott in Classic, Scrambler. 56 comments


We are happy to introduce a new writer at the ‘House of Burning Pipes’. Marlon Slack is our latest recruit and we’re happy to have him on board for the ride.

Tattoo Custom Motorcycles have taken this 1972 R75/5 – a traditional, commuter-style bike – and turned it into a neat scrambler with a few particularly nice, subtle touches. There’s quite a few boxer engine custom bikes kicking around these days, but it wasn’t always the case. Eight years ago I sat in the café attached to Deus Ex Machina and between bites of breakfast and the occasional superior scowl I tried to throw at the Deus clientele, the side doors opened and a mechanic wheeled in a BMW R65, propping it up in a window display that overlooks the cafe. Behind me an older guy looked up at the motorcycle with a scowl. ‘Please,’ he groaned, ‘we’re trying to eat.’


For years the BMW R-series with its suitcase-like engine and inoffensive styling was never considered a particularly suitable bike to customize. They were always a well-regarded motorcycle in their time – they were functional, reliable and had a strong following from men who had moustaches (before moustaches were cool) tweed blazers (before tweed blazers were cool) and names like ‘Donald’ (er…). But for the most part BMW boxers were considered pretty boring and quite ugly.


In the last ten years things have changed. Old boxer twins are now highly sought after in the custom scene for their reliability and simplicity – as well as the huge amount of collective knowledge that has accumulated over the years from people like Don (RIP).


Some of the changes made by Tattoo Moto are pretty clear at first glance. The rear subframe been chopped and raised and a single seat fitted. Mikuni carburettors replace the questionable stock Bing units, a Danmoto GP Extreme exhaust has been fitted and cone filters replace the standard airbox. Importantly, the beautiful slab-sided ‘toaster’ tank still wears its original emerald green finish.


One thing that warms my heart when looking at this particular scrambler custom is that the suspension has actually been modified appropriately. It has 15” long Ohlins shocks at the rear and Racetech springs and emulators installed in the front forks. While it isn’t going to win any motocross races, these modifications, coupled with the capable Continental Twinduros means this scrambler would actually handle moderately well off-road.


But some of the neatest things about the bike are a little more subtle – the workshop name on the side of the engine case, Brooks bicycle grips on Renthal bars and the use of Motogadgets M-lock wireless start system. Small things like these help set it well apart from many other BMW customs that are appearing at the moment, most of which are put together using little more than an angle grinder, a value pack of Plasti-dip and considerable amount of misplaced ambition.





  • SportsterMike

    Looks like a nice bike… but pics are way to oversharpened/photoshopped
    Arty farty again….
    I’m going to take a pic of a white bike on an ice floe this winter… or a black bike in the coal cellar and see how I get on…

    • TJ Martin

      On this one I’ll have to concur 150%

      • And I only dialed the Lucis Photo Enhancer up to 117%!!

      • Spyker May

        I am on at least 150.1% and will ‘trash’ that LPE 1117%.

        As Radiohead put it:

        Her green plastic watering can
        For her fake Chinese rubber plant
        In the fake plastic earth
        That she bought from a rubber man
        In a town full of rubber plans
        To get rid of itself…

        As an antidote shimmy over to raygordon dot com backslash throttled

        There ‘photoshop’ is the local antique dealer and the ‘photo enhancer’ rises in the east and sets in the west.

        • TJ Martin

          Anybody that quotes RadioHead is A OK [ Computer ] in my book Spyker May . Two thumbs up !

    • Thanks SportsterMike. I love your monochromatic idea. I will seriously think about it on a future project!!

  • Arbiter of Good Taste

    Another hipster abortion. It makes me want to puke how you Pipeburn fucktards think that ugly garbage bikes like this are somehow cool, let alone actually useful or functional.

    • TwoSmoke

      Obvious troll is obvious. God forbid people have different tastes than you…

      • So true. Heck, even I have different tastes!! Every bike I’ve done is significantly different from the other.

    • TwoSmoke

      Obvious troll is obvious. So where is your well known bike builders blog Arbiter? Oh that’s right you don’t have one because no one gives a flying fuck about your shitty opinion. God forbid you show a shred of positivity towards hard work regardless of its outcome you fucking idiot. GTFO

    • Umm.. perhaps you might consider not following us Pipeburn fucktards! Just sayin’. BTW – it runs like a champ. Fully functional!

  • TJ Martin

    … another custom bike asking the proverbial question ;

    How many Scramblers can custom builders scramble before Scramblers finally go out of vogue ?

    Which is to say when it comes to Scramblers/Cafe Racers and even worse … ‘ authentic ‘ nostalgia bikes ….

    Enough already ! Seriously . Its getting to the point where I’m longing for the return of the Chopper .. not because I’m so in love with the genre but rather because I am getting sick and tired of the whole Scrambler/Cafe/’ Authentic ‘ Nostalgia ‘ Hipster ‘ scene .

    As to the photos ? Severely over photo shopped /digitally enhanced .. to the extreme . I mean come on now folks [ aimed at those taking the photos .. not the PB crew ] Taking good quality photos is not exactly rocket science you know !

    • TwoSmoke

      You already know what I’m going to say TJ. This time it’s blatantly obvious you jumped on the hate wagon. I know this bike isn’t the most beautiful but someone still put a lot of hard work into it. Despite preference this is a well built machine and at very least deserves recognition for that.

      • Thanks TwoSmoke. Wonder who pissed in TJ’s Cheerios this morning!!

        • arnold

          Every day, I believe he has a appliance resembling a beer tap on the ‘fridge.

          • arnold

            I wonder if he is a Sony artist? although he is pretty mild compared to some of the vitriol from the Sony guys.

          • TJ Martin

            Do you even have the slightest clue what in the ___ you are talking about ?

          • foiled again

            When’s that ever stopped you, Teej?

          • TJ Martin

            Care to qualify that question or be a little more specific ? Yeah …. thought not !

          • foiled again

            Don’t ever change, Teej.

          • arnold

            Yes I do.

        • TJ Martin

          Two years of the constant barrage of BMW Scramblers making their way onto the web .. in print as well as at each and every stinking show across the entire goram land to the point of … errr … I’ll spare you the analogy I have in mind ….. thats what !

          To be clear though . You did a mighty fine job on your Scrambler . Problem is its the umpteenth BMW Scrambler built just this year alone … many of which are at least the equal to what you’ve done here . No insult intended

      • TJ Martin

        TwoSmoke – Methinks you’re making assumptions rather than asking questions first and coming to conclusions later . As far as the quality of this build ? Its fine !

        Its the overabundance of Scramblers along with the abject lack of originality that has me up in arms and has for well over the last 14 months … not on the Hate Wagon . I mean really . How many BMW scramblers have we seen featured on this site alone … never mind across the web And if your comment was meant to infer I’m agreeing with Mr Arbiter of ____ ____.. well … you really are taking the Ass[ume ] thing to an extreme . Fact is I found Arbiter of __ ____ ( fill in the blanks as you see fit ) post to be offensive , uncalled for and over the top to say the least [ too bad his supposed ‘ good taste ‘ doesn’t extend to his choice of words and quality of prose .. 😉 ]

        And by the way … I don’t give a rats behind how much work someone has put into anything . The end result is the only thing that matters .. Period ! I don’t give out awards or compliments for effort .

        So again I’ll say …. when it comes to Scrambler/Cafe/Authentic Nostalgia [ the oxymoron of the 2010’s ] custom builds …. enough already … time to build something new … or at the very least … different

        • TwoSmoke

          I just think its ridiculous how you can criticize a whole genre(s) of bikes and yet you have no builds of your own to prove such a preposterous point. It’s real easy to judge someone else’s work when you haven’t experienced how difficult or easy it is to actually do. I on the other hand have first hand experience which changes my perspective on the matter. This site displays all sorts of bikes. If you are over the cafe/scramblers then go somewhere else. But here, we love these bikes no matter how trendy or not.

        • arnold

          You made me go to my big ‘puter.
          this is what you had in mind for a custom build?

        • Fast2Furious

          Write even longer posts and use “methinks” more frequently and you’ll really have something.

          • foiled again

            Go over to Petrolicious and look in at the comments in the “My Chat With White Roof Radio” article and note the general dissatisfaction with Mr. Methinks’ blather.

          • TwoSmoke

            Great suggestion foiled! That site is awesome! And did you see the poster named “citizens against TJ Martin”? So fucken funny!

    • And just imagine, years ago, someone probably uttered similar words about being sick and tired of the whole chopper/hoodlum scene… Truth is, as long as we all live to build, and modify, and race, and stare at, and write about motorcycles, I say “Let’s ride!”

      • TJ Martin

        And I say enough is enough and too much is where we’re at …

  • B. J. Parker

    Clean build with killer details. Good write up too.

  • I really liked Tattoo Customs’ KZ400 so looking at this finely sprung, toaster-tanked boxer with contemplation on how sweet those fantastic looking Danmoto pipes must sound; I did find myself subconsciously converting it into another cafe bike. But recalling the KZ build post I would guess that this build serves a couple of purposes (company brand growth, tangible outlet for creative minds normally locked in a digital world) which may be in front of the base desire to have a bike that scrambles… So I simply don’t have it in me to object to this beautiful and very well proportioned scrambler even if I wish it differently.

    • Thank you, JamesM. I completely understand what you’re saying about that KZ! I LOVE that bike. I also love trying different approaches with my projects, hence this Scrambler. Thanks for noting the attention to proportion. It is the basis upon which I do all of my builds.

    • cptmatt

      Thanks James! For a moment there I forgot that I was reading about a motorcycle.

  • Dave Coetzee

    Definitely my favourite BMW scrambler. Think it’s the combination of several things, I.e. the short seat, the perfectly proportioned, raised metal front mudguard and some nifty gadgets. Not to mention the faultless write-up. I’m still loving this custom genre.

    • arnold

      Put a mud guard on the rear and I would agree.

  • Davidabl2

    Sometimes the “art” of ART is knowing when to stop. While i’m not sure that the bike is overdone..the photos are. Credibility suffers if the bike no longer looks “real.”

  • B. J. Parker

    One more comment. I think it’s really cool that the builder ( I presume) is responding to the comments. That should also remind us that human beings are the ones turning the wrenches behind all the builds – not nameless people trying to irritate the hipster haters out there.

    • I have the feeling B.J. that this ‘irritation’ that you are referring is happening mostly in the US and not in Europe where I live. In a strange way it reminds me the end of the movie Easy Rider; some people tend to shoot everything is different from their perception, freedom in any kind of form is abolished, since it’s not ‘their freedom’…
      Of course I speak for myself and my friends only, but we don’t categorize riders no matter what type of motorcycle they ride. Our common moto is: “One (type of bike) is not enough, because you can’t do everything with just one”.
      My objections for customs are limited only in terms of performance and handling. Since it has two wheels, it has to be well crafted and rolling, not to be a trailer queen, and I am not referring to minor details like blinkers and mirrors.

  • I love these boxer scramblers – reminds me of the ISDT beemers of old. This example is one of the best – great details, well thought out, superb craftsmanship. Also very ridable. More scramblers, please. Scrambler type bikes have been around since the dawn of motorcycles under various names and will be with us for a long time.

  • Jeffrey Wallis Bell-Zekas

    nice… agree that photos are a bit overly photoshopped…

  • Clydefrancis

    Wow, gripes a-plenty. Let it go. If you didn’t love motorcycles you wouldn’t be looking at this site. Anyway, It’s a fantastic bike and my favorite part is the preservation of the emerald green! Nice nod. Now, I’ll gripe, or suggest? When builders submit to Pipeburn I say it should be mandatory to submit a small audio file of “start, idle, blip” – you all know that your blood really starts pumping when you can actually hear it! No?

    • TwoSmoke

      Now THAT is an original idea (at least for this site) and I agree nothing gets you excited more than hearing it run (specially if its a two smoke!) at very least a link to a YouTube clip?

  • TwoSmoke

    The Piaa’s are a nice touch too.

  • revdub

    Very cool and clean scrambler. Some beautiful details. That seat is just amazing. Also, TJ has absolutely ruined the comments section. It’s unbearable. I don’t even bother to read any comments any more.

    • foiled again

      At this point I think it’s safe to say the individual in question is really enjoying himself on this and several other sites’ commentary section. In other words, it’s all a put-on and this guy’s just a troll with a few key gimmicks.

      If that’s not the case, he deserves pity rather than contempt.

      In any case, Rev, you’ve been here a long time, have had a really snappy machine featured, and are faultlessly upbeat in your comments and I’d hate to see some act like Teej’s shoo you away.

      • revdub

        Thanks for the words, Foiled. Always appreciate your comments. I have still been around almost daily, but have withheld comment lately.

      • Foiled – I checked out the Petrolicious site (I didn’t know about it – thanks for turning me on to it!) and the commentors over there are about ready to hang TJ. He tries to be the first to comment and usually pisses everybody off with his toxic remarks. I understand Rev’s frustration with the whole TJ thing. Maybe he (TJ) will find some other site to haunt – maybe one that features custom guitar picks.

        • foiled again

          Isn’t that Lada outstanding?
          Makes one wonder what Teej’s Myers-Briggs must look like.

          • Love the Lada – makes me want to scour Craigslist for a Fiat 124.

      • nathas909

        Why does anyone reply to his comments. I am sure if everyone just ignores him he will get bored.

        • TwoSmoke

          Because, it’s like a train wreck, you just can’t look away.

  • cptmatt

    Love this one, for the most part. I am converting a run-of-the-mill R65 to a Scrambler, so I appreciate getting inspired (and stealing ideas).
    Likes: the green paint, PIAA lights; functional and well-placed), the ‘just right’ front fender, the crash bars, the Pirellis on wired wheels and the overall craftmanship and attention to detail.
    Dislike: The lack of rear fender means its probably not meant to go anywhere near mud, the moto GP muffler seems just a tiny bit out of place stylistically, and though I love the headlight, it seems a shame to put it in harm’s way.