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‘V05’ BMW R80RT – Vagabund


Posted on November 2, 2016 by Andrew in Racer. 25 comments

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The word ‘minimalism’ gets thrown around a lot these days. Ever since the rise of the post-WWII art movement of the same name, it seems like every man and his monochromatic dog have become experts on the subject. But I’m here to tell you that despite what you may think, most people don’t really know what minimalism actually is. ‘Less is more!’ the peanut gallery blurts. Well, yes but mostly no. Follow that logic to its, erm, logical conclusion and you’ll end up with nothing at all. A more practical definition of minimalism is to do more with less or to make the most out of as little as possible. Smash cut to a workshop somewhere deep in an Austrian winter. We see two young men as they consider a motorcycle. It’s so stripped back, it’s barely there at all and yet its visual impact and physical presence is enough to stop you in your tracks. They are Vagabund. The bike is a new BMW they call ‘V05’.

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Vagabund is a new custom motorcycle shop from Austria. They are based in Graz-Styria and the were founded at the end of 2015 by two guys, Paul (a designer) and Philipp (a mechanical engineer). “Both of us wanted to work on vintage motorcycles because we love these old pieces of metal. For some it’s only a lifestyle product or a commercial vehicle. But to us, it’s nothing less than a functional piece of art.”

Trying to find a compromise between usability and design with each motorcycle they build is clearly very important to Vagabund.“We are minimalists and perfectionist. We will always try to use handcrafted parts wherever possible. We love the challenge of building motorcycles that are both nice to ride and beautiful to look at.” Bar the painting, pretty much everything these two do is by their own hand. And when it’s not, it’s likely because they are collaborating with various local craftsmen or artists to bring something unique to their builds.

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“Our inspiration for almost every project is to build very clean and minimalistic bikes which are nice to ride and are still legal for road use.” And for anyone who knows the Austrian (or for that matter German) attitude to modified vehicles, that’s quite a bold statement. “In the case of our R80RT, the main focal point was to combine a kind of futuristic-yet-vintage design theme that included both some classic, handcrafted aluminium parts and some modern details like the yellow and grey wheel rim you see here.”

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Of course, you can be as minimal as you like, but at some point you’re still going to have to get your hands dirty. For Paul and Philipp, that started with some of BMW’s legendarily arcane wiring. “We found it’s best to just get rid of all the puzzling BMW wires and start from scratch,” says Paul. Step two was a modification to the tank’s position, ensuring it was in just the right position for the lines the boys had in mind.

“Next came the positioning and welding of the newly constructed rear frame. Again, the lines of the frame and seat were crucial, but now they had to work with the tank and not just by themselves.” A lengthy clean-up of the frame’s remaining sections then took place. As you can see, absolutely nothing unnecessary was left in place. Next came the construction of the bike’s beautifully simple exhaust system and an extended upgrade list for the bike’s smaller details including the battery placement, electronics, lights and controls.

With the home straight in sight, Paul and Philipp got turning and milling on the bike’s vast array of custom parts while the bike itself was being measured up for all of its bespoke aluminium details.

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Now that’s attention to detail

“The headlight is a unique piece designed by us and handmade out of a flat piece of aluminium by local metal artist Berni from Blechmann. He’s someone we often collaborate with.” This teamwork was not only responsible for the bike’s fairing, but also for the ‘moon’ cap on the rear wheel and the very slick under-seat tail light housing.

Other nice details include the Motogadget ‘M-blaze Disc’ bar-end indicators, which are matched to the ‘M-blaze Pin’ rear turn signals that are inside the ‘camouflaged’ license plate holder. Then there’s the modified R80RT fuel tank, the Continental RoadAttack 2 rubber, the R75/5 airbox and starter cover, the Kustom Tech ‘Grimeca’ brake master cylinder and the Domino ‘Classic’ clutch lever.

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For all those ‘Where’s Wally/Waldo?’ fans out there, the lithium-ion battery can be found under the tank, the speedo is another Motogadget unit that has been incorporated into the top triple clamp, and the horn and signal buttons are inbuilt into the ‘bars. Oh, and that tank roundel? It was CNC-made as a one-off piece just for this build.

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“Our favourite part on the finished bike would have to be the handcrafted headlight mask and the moon cap.” For those out there taking notes, make no mistake; it’s those two components that almost single-handedly ‘make’ the bike. Looking to shift into bike building? Master the deft transformation that touches like this can make to a bike and you’ll be most of the way there. But it’s interesting to note that the build wasn’t all wien und rosen…

“We are real perfectionists, so finding the perfect shade of silver for the tank to match the other aluminium components was a real struggle. Believe it or not, we painted the tank three times until we found the perfect match.” Now that’s commitment.

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Removable rear plate holder. Note the ‘camouflage’ paint effect

As you can see, we’re pretty smitten with the bike. It’s no secret that there’s a real oversupply of BMWs in the custom scene at the moment. But for a young shop like Vagabund to be able to take the Bavarian bull by the horns and deliver something as unique as this from such an easy-to-make-clichéd donor bike really deserves some recognition. So how would we describe our excitement to see what they come up with next? Minimal at best…

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A family portrait

[Vagabund: Web – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by www.moritzlechner.at]








  • Oh my… I’m feelin’ this one. A lot. It’s one of those perfection bikes. It’s not just the simplicity, but the dedication to continuing lines and shapes deliberately. Like the way the license plate bracket is painted to be as close to invisible as possible. I love it. Fantastic work. 👍🏼

  • the watcher

    Glorious.

  • BirdArvid

    Absolutely beautiful conception, other than the wheels. IMO, of course.

  • Vít Jakeš

    Wow, that license plate holder! But anyway, where are all the things that are mentioned in the write-up? I’d definitely love to see the bars, the rear, the tank and its cap and all the other angles & close-ups!

  • cab305

    “camouflage paint” very cool!!!!!

  • Michael Kork.

    Now, ain’t that a lovely build! Always something fresh when it comes to BMWs. Nice touches on the coloured rims and the rear wheel. Vagabund are starting to create a visual language of their own.

  • Robert Henry

    Ever see a dog crap out a sock it’s eaten and it sort of walks around the yard confused with a shity sock trailing behind it. You don’t want to look but it’s just so awfull you can’t look away.

    • Jim Stuart

      A monochromatic dog at that….

    • There’s always one…

      • Robert Henry

        sorry this thing was just sort of gangly and as an artist I see crazy things when I look at objects…it cause many uncomfortable social situations, then I drink.

    • R_Melaun

      You mad bro’?

    • Len Farquharson

      Ever read a comment that reminded you of a man who accidentally swallowed his leather make-up bag and he sort of walks…………?

  • Jester the Clown

    I’d prefer to see the rear wheel matching the front one but other than that . . .

  • guvnor67

    Achingly beautiful. The clean lines and attention to detail are outstanding! Not a fan of “solid” wheels, but here It’s perfect. So good.

  • R_Melaun

    I like it. Seat looks a tad narrow. Still unsure ’bout the shrouded wheel – it runs counter to the minimalism ethos (shrouds are not necessary for function).

    And what’s up with the yellow and grey stripes on the front wheel? Seems like an affectation…

  • Len Farquharson

    This is a very clever construct with the overall theme being immediate, precise, fresh and a joy to behold! More importantly though, is that I can only imagine this brilliant build is also a real hoot to ride. No dogs or socks here!

  • Beginning to think I should have made image No.4 the hero shot. Thoughts?

    • Greg S

      Na. It’s nice not to see all the goodness right up front. There is too much to great work to take on all at once.

  • Eric

    Absolutely stunning. Reminds me of Mies van der Rohe’s “benahe nichts,” or “almost nothing.” Removing all of the unnecessary components means that which remains must be perfect. This is minimalism at its finest!

  • revdub

    I like everything about this. There is just something about that paint on the front wheel though. So simple and yet it makes such a big difference. I will be “borrowing” that idea, without doubt.

  • Darrick B

    This is one of those bikes that is deceivingly custom. At first glance, it looks a bit like “every other” old BMW custom you see lately. But then the more you look at it, the more the cool, subtle touches start to pop out. I love it.

  • Matthew Lutz

    This bike is architecture. Well done sirs.

  • Motown

    I’d love to hear more about the exhaust. Looks cool, but is that all it’s good for?

  • Aaron van Twist

    Does anyone have an idea what kind of grips/throttle setup is beeing used for the dual pull gas ?