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BMW K1100RS – Cooter’s Café


Posted on October 14, 2015 by Scott in Café Racer. 20 comments

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Written by Martin Hodgson.

“Breaker one, Breaker one, I might be crazy but I ain’t dumb, Craaaazy Cooter comin’ atcha, come on.” Growing up watching the Dukes of Hazzard with his friends, Eric Kalter was given the nickname of the wild mechanic Crazy Cooter from the hit show and although he might not be a mechanic you’d never know from what he’s achieved with this stunning 1994 K1100rs. Many would argue you’d have to be crazy to pick a “flying brick” to turn into a stripped down custom machine, but although he is a service manager in the printing industry by day when the shed lights come on Eric becomes one hell of a builder under the moniker Cooter’s Café.

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If there is an argument to be made against turning a K series BMW into a Café Racer it’s the weight, the K1100RS is a big ole girl at 268 kg fully fuelled but that didn’t put Eric off and he has done more than a few things to get that figure well down! Instant weight saving is achieved by ditching all of the fairings that covered almost the entire bike. The bulky instrument cluster is gone, so too the huge two up seat and the rear fender, its accessories and heavy metal supports.

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To shorten the bike overall and further remove more weight the subframe was cut off at its mounting points and a new item fabricated and welded in its place. The frame was then smoothed out and detabbed and left in a raw metal finish that beautifully contrasts with the low slung blacked out engine that works as a stressed member.

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The choice of aluminium for the seat makes perfect sense in the quest to keep weight low and it hugs the frame with hot rod quality fabrication. While much of the seat remains in raw metal the café hump is treated to some tank matching paint work and number decals for that racing look all of which is laid down by Eric himself. The slim line seat is finished in a diagonally stitched leather and topped with the Cooter’s Café logo all done by Miller Kustom Upholstery.

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The tank mounts have been modified and lowered at both front and back so that the lines are more befitting of a café racer. The tank itself has been extended at the front, raised 2cm, before Eric generously coated it in a vintage style two-tone brown paint scheme with small BMW logos added to the curved steel with exceptional skill.

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There are four cylinder motorcycles and then there are the BMW horizontal four’s that leave the high revving superbikes to do their thing and instead focus on punching out obscene amounts of torque. At 2000rpm the big four is already making 75% of its torque and just continues to pull like a freight train to redline. To improve fuelling, Eric has installed the injection system from a K1200 that utilises the common Bosch Motronic ECU. Feeding air to the system are the four menacing chromed pod filters poking out the left side of the bike with the air sensors neatly relocated. The big rear cans known to dominate most BMW’s from the factory has been ditched and saving weight and sounding mean is the new shorty reverse cone muffler in its place.

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With such a unique engine that dominates the look of the bike Eric chose not to ignore its aesthetics or try and hide it in anyway. Rather it takes centre stage and shows off its bulk thanks to an all-black paint job that further accentuates its size. For a neat custom touch the spark plug cover is hardwood and finished with hot rod style lettering to spell out the Cooter’s Café logo.

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The catalytic converter has been removed to clean up the look further and the installation of a Li-Ion battery reduces weight and adds reliability. The final touch to the engine area is the beautiful ‘50s leather bag that keeps the battery company, once used as a safe bag for small businesses it’s now the perfect place for Eric’s wallet and phone.

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To get the stance right and further lower the centre of gravity, a vital handling change with a big horizontal engine, Eric lowered the standard 43mm front forks with a brace replacing the fender. The rear of course is one of BMW’s brilliant Monolever swinging arms and with a full face of a wheel to show off a visual more appearing R1150 item replaces the standard fare.

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BMW didn’t skimp on the braking either and Eric had no need to mess around with the already superb 305mm twin drilled disc front and 285mm drilled single disc rear. The factory switch blocks have been mounted to a set of chrome clips that have neatly wrapped leather grips for more of that vintage look and feel. The front indicators are mounted to the end of the bars while the rear is kept minimalist with a small taillight mounted above the numberplate holder.

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While Eric still has plans for the bike – a new mount for the rear muffler for one – to truly appreciate what he has accomplished you have to look at the way a standard K series 1100RS appears in factory form. It’s one of the last bikes you would ever pick to be converted into a café racer but Eric’s a mad genius and even his name sake Crazy Cooter would have to concede this is a hell of a machine for fleeing Sheriff Rosco and running rings around big Boss Hogg.

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[Photos by Classic Life Cycles]








  • guvnor67

    Krazy kool!! Love the bank of pod filters, and the little bits n pieces that make it personal. With all that low down torque and huge weight loss it’d be a blast to ride. Flying bricks are hard to make pretty, this isn’t pretty as such, but it is tough and looks mean, and I reckon he’s done a good job!

    • Eric Kalter

      Thanks Guv, preciate the comments.

      • guvnor67

        No worries! A mate offered me his K series a couple of years ago and I couldn’t find a vision for it (and bought his 79 T140 Bonnie instead!). You obviously did have a vision and turned it into rolling muscle! Well done!

  • Bultaco Metralla

    I loved my K100’s. I had an 84 K100RT which I traded in 94 for a K1100RS which I sold in 2004 for some cash and a Vespa PX200. I did about 350k on them. On city streets, dirt roads, on expressways and on country roads late at night. I once covered eighty three klicks in twenty seven minutes which is the fastest sustained speed I have ever managed. I desperately want someone to make the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. I can admire the features on this bike, I can respect the craft and thought that has gone into it but it just doesn’t do it for me.

  • bjax

    Great work! It’s no small feat to do away with the K-bikes’ tank shape and big airbox that other customizers choose to keep.

  • lizziesue

    The flying brick lives! Love it, great concept, looks terrific. I guess it’s stretching the definition of cafe racer a little though, because the K-bikes were built for serious-bidness high-speed highway work and were not much at home in town. Gotta love seeing that gigundous machine with those little-bitty clip-ons. Sweet!

  • Hardley T Whipsnade III

    Well if he was a more experienced and hardened ‘ biker ‘ he’d of called it ‘ Cooter’s Scooter ‘ or ‘ Cooter’s Scoot ‘ for short . As for the bike , Change out the plank saddle , put a wider tire on the back [ it needs some visual weight on the rear to balance the bike out ] and he’d have himself a pretty darn fine looking K1100 custom though I’m not sure I’d be calling it a ‘ Cafe ‘ . FYI I love those filters as well . Kind of makes it look like there might be a V8 between the rails .

    • guvnor67

      Yer, probably more Muscle bike than Cafe, especially as you say, that nice big motor hinting at a V8.

    • Eric Kalter

      160 is max width for the swingarm unfortunately, would indeed live a 180. Ow and eh, apart from the 20K miles I ride every year being the non hardned biker I am, I actually ride this thing to shows on this plank saddle instead of putting it on a trailer ;).

  • Absolutely horrid…I’ve seen some great brick mods on this site. Own a k75s that I hope to mod one day. The only thing I would take from this is the muffler. The rest looks like absolute shite… This is the reason for the phrase “there’s no accounting for taste”, it’s obvious the builder has mechanical skill, but the sense of design is lacking.
    Horrid!

    • Eric Kalter

      Lol, you can have the muffler, it’s the bit I need to get rid of first 😛

      • you’re right, even the muffler sucks…

  • Jim Stuart

    Cooter must have a huge wallet and cell phone. I’ve owned several K bikes and the weight never bothered me. I would love to ride one with has been trimmed down and tuned up.

  • jlgace

    Not being a fan of asymmetry it’s hard for me to like this bike, but I do. Seat unit and tank look great and the details are well thought out, particularly the wood insert on the cylinder head. It’s all about the engine, which looks positively massive in relation to the less-important bits around it.

  • Beast.

    • guvnor67

      Yup!!! Has a real muscle bike ” Get the hell out of my way!!!” Presence about it I reckon

  • BoxerFanatic

    It is interesting, and I don’t mind the color scheme, but it just seems a bit ‘ramshackle’ on the finishing, especially the tail. I do like the frame modifications, I don’t know what BMW was on when they designed the aft section of the frame, but the lines and angles are weird… cleaning them up to look more like a Tonti Moto Guzzi style frame, with a triangular form between the tank, seat, and swingarm looks much better.

    I don’t mind the pod filters on the left side, but it leaves the right side with a void above the crankcase.

    Overall it is interesting, but I think I still prefer the Renard Speed Shop K75 Schmetterling bike, in terms of Kafe custom builds.

  • I’m not one to complain but….I don’t love the whole, slap on some clip-ons and shorten up the rear end so you can call it a Café Racer. While I can appreciate the hard work put into this machine, the length of the wheel base alone should eliminate it from being considered a Café. Don’t get me wrong, the bike is beautifully done and I’m a lover of shed builders doing beautiful things to their projects, I just feel like the line is getting a little too blurred when it comes to classifying customs. That being said, it’s a really tastefully done, great looking bike and Eric Kalter should be proud to show it off everywhere he goes

  • Nils P.

    Amazing Bike!! Well done! I am very curious how you got that tank to look so good 😉 I am about to start my first ever build on an 86′ K100rs and am going in circles with the tank but this looks fantastic.

  • Jose Barquin

    Hi Eirc, you think an K1200 could be cutomize as your bike?
    thanks