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‘White Phantom’ BMW R80RT – Kingston Customs

Posted on December 23, 2016 by Andrew in Racer. 35 comments

Written by Martin Hodgson.

There was a time when the only way to see the very best custom motorcycles from around the globe was to duck into your local newsagent hoping the latest edition of your favourite magazine was on the stands. But the internet has changed all that, the moment a new cool custom is completed anywhere on earth you can see it almost immediately online. With such an overload of brilliant bikes it’s easy to take a blasé attitude to just how amazing some of these builds are. But even if you look at bikes all day long the latest custom creation by Dirk Oehlerking of Germany’s Kingston Customs will leave you captivated. Strap yourself in, because this blown 1986 BMW R80RT known as White Phantom is like nothing you see every day and deserves your full attention.

Dirk is a special kind of builder who can create custom masterpieces using as a base the latest bikes off the factory floor right through to true vintage motorcycles. A perfectionist whose portfolio of work places him amongst the elite builders in the world. But who like any great artist is always looking to go one better.

“After the worldwide success of the red BMW R75/6 Bobber and the blue BMW R100/7 Café Racer I was looking for something new. It should be reduced, light and very stylish. I wanted to take the light, slim shape of the former Kingston bikes to a new level.”

That new level is White Phantom, a machine so good it recently came second in class at the 2016 AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building. The base for the build, an ’86 R80RT is one of the least attractive machines the ’80s offered up. From a decade known for its fashion faux pas, that’s saying something and yet another testament to Dirk’s incredible skill. But he knew beauty was under there somewhere and so stripped the big girl down and began to dream.

“When I sit relaxed in front of the bike on the workshop, new forms appear and I suddenly see a completely different bike. I experimented old school like with cardboard, I created stencils, reject them and tried again. Suddenly, a very elegant lineage emerged, which touched and totally carried me away.”

The frame might be largely hidden but Dirk has smoothed it out, filed the ends of every weld and cut off any unnecessary bits and brackets of which there were many. The swingarm that encases the shaft drive is given the same treatment with a finish that would leave the BMW engineers red-faced.

With the skeleton now formed the body work began with each piece shaped, offered up and then inch by inch perfected. The shape of the side panels is reminiscent of a modern speedway machine but here even the engine is enclosed.

But it’s the top section that is truly a metal work master class, the single piece flips open to reveal access to the engine while also acting as the seat base, fuel tank and elongated dash. The fuel tank stores much of its gas beneath the seat for perfect mass centralisation and creates a uniquely slim frontal profile.

If the metal work is perfect the paint is next level, white might be a simple colour but it’s brilliantly laid down across the machine with brass coloured accents to match the soft metal’s fittings.

The brass work continues across the build with the vintage German gauges adapted to work with the BMW all featuring classic brass bezels. The gas caps match and even the custom BMW/Kingston logo utilises the colour. Standing back to look at the machine in this state Dirk realised “suddenly, a very elegant lineage emerged, which touched and totally carried me away.

And again one recognises the special reduced and slim shape Kingston Design.” But as good as the visual body transformation is the mechanicals are even more impressive.

Just imagine what it sounds like…

It all starts with what’s hidden beneath the side covers, a totally rebuilt 800cc boxer twin from the original donor bike. But it’s no basic freshen up with the engine built to withstand the demands of forced induction.

Dirk is no stranger to turbocharged BMW bikes, but in such a confined space it presented a range of unique challenges. “I had to prevent heat problems under the cover and I solved it with material of the Formula 1 era”. Those 1980’s BMW turbo engines made up to 1500hp from just 1.5 litres and powered Nelson Piquet to a World Championship.

But the area Dirk had to work in is tiny compared to an F1 car, so the turbo capable of flowing over 100bhp sits in front of the engine. This unusual layout allows a short header path from the Boxer heads to ensure fast spool up times.

Mounted horizontally, the turbo draws its air through a polished bellmouth that protrudes out one side of the bike’s covers. While the hot side of the turbo dumps exhaust gases and the odd flame through a polished single pipe on the opposite side. The compressed air flows into a beautifully crafted plenum for the two 32mm Bing carbs to feed from.

A blow through turbo setup is notoriously difficult to tune, twin carbs making it even harder, but once again Dirk’s genius shines through. The entire engine is polished and detailed to the point you could literally eat off it.

With more brass accents fitted to the air heads valve covers and all the pipework incredibly polished. To assist with the extra heat an oil-cooler is fitted out front and of course, finished in a brass coloured hue. It’s probably fair to say the original 50hp from the factory has been doubled.

So to get that power to the ground the Racemaster 4/26.6-18 drag slick provides a big sticky contact patch for rapid launches. The rear wheels itself is from a BMW R75/7 with the white painted rim given new stainless spokes.

These lace it to the shaft drive hub which is a mix of exposed metal edges and beautifully counter sunk cooling holes and more brass coloured paint. Two high-grade steel bars hard tail the rear end with drag style rose joints ensuring the highest quality of finish and function.

But if it’s possible the front end is even more impressive and just like the entire build is crafted in-house at Kingston Customs. Dirk has made one of his well-known “Telespringers” from a mix of BMW, Honda and handcrafted parts. The geometry is set by the enormous Honda XL 500S 2.50-23 rim that wears an ICE Speedway 23 inch tyre.

The BMW forks are drastically shortened and clamped in place by the stock trees. From the top clamp the springer element is added with twin shafts running helper springs secured by, you guessed it, brass nuts.

A hand formed pair of bars is held in place by the stock risers, with gum grips and vintage levers and throttle mechanism to further disguise the bikes true age. The foot controls are no less impressive with custom-made and machined rearsets, with polished linkages. The diamond stitched minimalist seat isn’t exactly well padded, but there’s a lot more to think about than your butt when astride this White Phantom.

Make mine an espresso

The lighting is kept simple at the front with a small vintage light while out back it’s another lesson in custom creativity. A factory BMW exhaust collar houses the small tail light with brass accent and Kingston logo’d number plate holder. All the electrics have been reduced until there is one switch on the headlight and a rocket ship style starter to fire the fury.

Make no mistake; this is no show pony with the blown BMW ready to be unleashed on some European 1/8th mile action. It rounds out a huge year for Dirk who couldn’t be happier. “It could only be called ‘White Phantom’ it breathes passing you, it touched my soul”. And it touched us in all the right places and like you we didn’t have to visit the newsagent for the pleasure of feasting with desire on such a picture perfect creation.

Dirk shows us the junk in his trunk

[Kingston Customs: Web – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by Onno Wieringa]

  • John in Pollock

    Im sure a lot of work and time went into this. It’s doubtless…, But its hideous and pretentious. It looks like Elvis in his white suit. Not to mention, it looks unrideable. Probably a good thing.

    Oh well, maybe Roy and Siegfried will want it to put it up in their mansion.

  • Don Arnold

    Some of the prewar BMWs had a fair amount of sheetmetal that we would call hideous, this is a well informed tribute. And Andrew, the RT fairing is a minor modification of the R100RS, second only to to the R90S in worship and fealty.

  • The Ogre

    I really, really like this one, but the useless front brake just makes me cringe, as does the squared-off rear tire.
    To me, those clearly say “this one isn’t for riding” – and if you can’t ride the bloody thing, what’s the *point*?

    • William Hinrichsen

      Ya I know the squares off tire is a problem—- just hit corners till the metal belts show– then give it a toss

  • the watcher

    You’ve got to hand it to Kingston; whether you like their stuff or not, they’ve got style and quality nailed. This isn’t my favourite but it’s certainly spectacular.

  • Count Paul Eugene

    wether you like it or not the build quality is amazing , the bikes that are shown on this site give ideas for all of us who like to build something different , I cant believe the people who knock some of these bikes , lets see what they have made , no doubt nothing

    • The bikes that get knocked the most have one thing in common…they border on ridiculous or unridable. Interesting for sure and many interesting concepts are built out in 3D materials. But in the end, the amount of money and effort spent could just as easily be put into functional, yet high performing bikes and the wacko concepts could be done in CAD or drawn on paper. Usually doing a bunch of drawings allows you to engineer yourself into a corner without spending a bunch of money. Been there many times.The disappointing part is the trend is toward super weird as opposed to super functional. Art is great. I love art and motorcycle art is awesome to look at. But like the bike here which looks like an attempt at a chopper/dragracer/art bike, although it’s super pretty and well laid out for sure, is pretty much a garage queen. I think the AMD build off is where this bike’s usefullness begins and ends. People who have a lot of motorcycle experience (riding and wrenching), tend to have issues with that while people new to the sport think this is the way bikes should be built. That’s why some people “Knock some of these bikes.”

      • 1957 Panhead

        So, I kinda agree with you on this Mule, but at the same time I compare these kind of bikes to, say, fashion week in NYC where designers show off outlandish clothes that in reality no one would actually wear. It lets designers stretch their imaginations and/or talent. It’s bikes like these that make most of of cringe in the sense that it’s practically unrideable, but what it does do is give us design ideas when it’s time to build or customize our own. It’s kinda like a laboratory for “the rest of us” who don’t necessarily have the time, money, tools or skill to create something like this. We can take from it what we like, dial it back so it’s functional, and have something kind of unique.

        So, yeah, start it up, do a burnout, take it down an 1/8 mile and then park it so the rest of us can steal some design ques!

        • “New” ideas are inspiring. Tired, overdone ideas with a slight twist are boring and seem to be the norm. Like choppers were for a long time. Oh yes, another chopper. It’s hard to come with something new AND at the same time better. Knobbies and clip-ons, flat seats, Firestone tires, all black murdered out bikes, BMW based Scramblers, etc, etc. No, this isn’t like NYC fashion week as we’re seeing all the same ideas from different countries over and over. But I do agree and I still look at all the bikes here and on other sites in the hope that I’ll see something exciting. Most of my ideas come from looking at hot rod books. Those builders seem to be trying to out do each other as opposed to just copying each other.

  • 66saint

    Here the one about the guy with the spark plug stuck in his forehead… what’s up with that?

    • Jim Roberts

      right after the burnout and he’s getting ready to stage…he attaches the hidden plug lead, which is what causes the after-burner to ignite.
      admittedly, you don’t often see this system, but i’ve been assured that it’s quite effective

    • Yea. What is that for?

  • Holy f#%k this bike is out of this world, I am speechless!
    It must be put in a time capsule and send in outer space so every other civilization will be able to see what the human race is capable of!!!

  • Len Farquharson

    Oh the joy! Remember when Susan Boyle first sang on Britain’s Got Talent, “I Dreamed a Dream,” from Les Miserables? Thank you Dirk; another class act! If memory serves me correctly, Susan went on to win 2nd place in the final. Funny thing is in this instance, no one remembers who came first! Keep dreaming and keep building Dirk. Beautifully written Andrew. Thanks.

    • Story written by Martin, not me. I only used my cut and paste skills, which are excellent, by the way… 😉

  • I’m getting a little Ed Roth vibe from this build. Anyone agree?

    • Yes. I was thinking exactly the same thing!!!

  • Season’s Greetings to all our commenters, by the way. Thanks for a great year of thought and opinions. And a special thanks for taking the time to tell use what you think.

    See you in 2017.

    • Bultaco Metralla

      Merry Christmas all and thanks Andrew for giving me the space to comment and the material to comment on

  • Jim Roberts

    a LEGITIMATE custom build….looks to me like he accomplished everything
    he was trying for. as far as the “squared off” rear tire, well i don’t know about the rest of you guys, but down here in kansas, we don’t have dragstrips with corners. and the front brake is more than adequate. considering what gets posted here as a “custom” on a regular basis, i’m gonna consider this bad boy as a christmas present. hope everybody’s gettin’ along fine and you all have a fine holiday.

    • Bultaco Metralla

      You nailed it Jim.

      • Jim Roberts

        had a metralla in 1970 that i did a few club events in southern
        california with. i always thought it was one of the most handsome bikes i’ve owned. however….it did to good of a job living up to its name lol

  • guvnor67

    Oh boy!! What a beauty!! For some reason Kraftwerk’s “Europe Endless” or Can’s “Call me” come into my head when I look at this. The quality of work here is astounding, and it has now replaced all previous BMWs as my favourite all time BMW. And now, Pavarotti belting out “Nessum Dorma” has just entered my head. Damn, what a fantastic machine!!! Happy Christmas everybody!!!!

    • Len Farquharson

      Beautifully articulated Guvnor! The smile on Dirk’s face says it all. I’d just love to hear and see it run too!

      • guvnor67

        Me too! Am thinking it’d be Metallica with 100 piece orchestra and the 3 Tenors bringing up the rear (or something?!) I need this bike as a 6 foot by 3 foot poster, framed in a lightly polished brass frame. Nice.

  • Manesh Karunakaran

    Not my cup of tea but EXCELLENT fabrication skills! Its a bloody work of art good enough to sit high up there with the best of the best!

    And Andrew, whatever happenned to that T100 and Speed Cup review by Marlon Slack that appears to have disappeared off the site??!

  • Robert Henry


  • Patriccio

    Very crisp & clean. The devil’s in the details, & this unit is rather devilish. A complete concept, completed. Would be nice to peruse the innards, the plumbing & shock set up. I could quibble about a few aspects, but I won’t.

  • Sublime as an art bike should be.

  • BigPeeWee

    Looks like an early 1900’s fire engine.

  • ART!

  • Valentin

    These guys build bikes like this to showcase what it is their house can do. I am pretty sure I am not the only garage builder that has looked at a bike and said to myself what If I did this or that crazy thing. If it wasn’t for builders who push the envelope and go outside the box the bikes we love to build and or ride and customize wouldn’t be so cool. That’s why I like bikes like this it’s the what if factor that we all use to push ourselves to maybe do something that others might frown upon, but in the end as a builder of four different bikes I build for myself not the person I am going to sale the bike to if I even sale the bike. I am also sure that this guy didn’t build this bike to take corners, up or down a winding road this is a drag bike. That’s just my two cents these are custom motorcycles not race bikes, two different things that sometimes Barrow from each other.

  • Mo Denaro

    I would like to see a short video of every bike posted here being ridden.
    Not a big deal today. Even a simple cell phone 30 second clip of the bike going around the block would do. No reason not to in this day and age.
    Or maybe its just me……………

  • Hill_Hudson

    love the originality and detail on this one.

  • Konrad Holzbauer

    Reminds mea bit of the 1920’s Mars A20: The 1000 cm³ “White Mars”: