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‘85 BMW K100 Brat Scrambler – MotoRelic

Posted on March 26, 2017 by Andrew in Brat, Scrambler. 42 comments

There must be something in the Virginia air. When you consider the state’s track record for creating great bike builders, their batting average ain’t half bad. With shops like Classified Moto, Cognito Moto and MotoHangar all hailing from the Lover’s state, there seems to be little doubt that they are head and shoulders above most Eastern states when it comes to custom bike coolness. And as if to rub your nose in it, here’s perennial favourites MotoRelic with another killer build. Fresh from their place in our most recent Bike of the Year Award, we’d like you to meet their scrambler take on the build platform du jour, the mighty (square) BMW K100.

“About 5 months ago, a good customer of mine came to me interested in doing a K100 build,” says MotoRelic’s Sean Skinner. “At the time, there were only a select few floating around the interwebs. It seems the K100 has taken the top spot away from the Virago and Honda’s CX500 as far as popularity for custom builds go.” No prizes for guess that Sean is about to add the that tally – but not without first putting his own mark of proceedings.

Comically, this particular bike came to Sean dressed with pretty much every bit of plastic BMW could throw at it. After covering the shop floor with all of the un-necessaries, he got to work reshaping the back of the frame. “I shortened the rear up a bit, and added a hoop to tie it back together. I wanted to take a different route with the body work, so I got out my trusty painter’s tape and started laying out some possible body lines.” And since the K’s frame has an unusual downward slope to it, Sean decided to hide it behind an all-aluminum, handmade tail section. “I really wanted to tie the gas tank line into the tail section to form one contiguous visual line,” he notes.

After getting the tail where it needed to be, the seat was next on the list. “I shaped the pan to match the body work, and then glued on the foam. Once the foam was sanded and shaped, it was sent out to Counter Balance Cycles for one of Wes’ beautiful stitch jobs.” After spending many hours staring and staring at the huge radiator and all of the empty space under the gas tank, he knew he would had to do something about it. “I cut out some cardboard templates and transferred that to pieces of 16 gauge aluminum sheet. I was in way over my head, but ignoring that I got to hammering and shaping some side covers.”

After a few tiring rounds of hammer work on the stump and shot bag, Sean took out the planishing hammer for a final shaping. “I have two full days of work in those side covers, but I really couldn’t imagine the bike without them. Luckily they didn’t have to match each other, as the right side holds the intake duct.” Satisfied with the body, all the metalwork was taken to the local’s at Homeward Bound Motorcycles for yet another amazing paint job. “We talked for a while about colors and decided to lean towards BMW ‘M-like’ shades of blue with black. I wanted it to stand out, so big and bold was the theme. I know I’m biased, but I think we really knocked it out of the park.”

And while the bodywork was off getting completed, Sean focused his attention on the rest of the bike. There were numerous leaks and parts that really needed to be replaced. “I resealed the engine, replaced the clutch and the water pump seals along with all of the rubber bits for the throttle bodies.” Then, after the engine, transmission and differential were sorted out, they too got a fresh coat of cast engine enamel. “The frame was then sent to the powder coater along with a few other things,” Sean recalls. “I upgraded the front fork springs to a stiffer set and lowered them by two inches. It made the stance nice and level.”

Then Sean changed up the bars to add to the emerging ‘scrambler-meets-brat’ look. For the most part he maintained the stock controls, but added a set of Biltwell grips that matched the seat pattern perfectly. “You get all of your info from the nice KOSO gauge,” he says. “Though getting it to work correctly with the BMW sensors was quite a challenge. Luckily, the internet and a friend who is great with electronics made it all work perfectly.” The stock BMW K100 comes with a battery that is so big, it seems like it could be used in a car – which makes total sense once you figure out it WAS used in a car. “Anyway, that huge lump of lead had to go.”

“I chose a high CCA AntiGravity battery and found that The Gasbox makes a perfect holder for it. I made a rubber-mounted bracket to hold the battery in the stock location, and then attached the Gasbox cradle to it. I also had a company cut me some stainless MotoRelic logos to use them on my custom exhausts and bikes, and I was pleasantly surprised to find they fit absolutely perfectly on that battery holder.” Clearly it was meant to be.

Then the day came for Sean to install all of the freshly painted parts. Normally Sean would have already started the bike before this, just to work out any kinks, leaks or other issues. But this ol’ BMW requires the gas tank’s internal fuel pump to get started. “So you wanna talk stressful? This was stressful. Fresh gas in a freshly painted tank on a bike that was spread across my shop in a thousand pieces for a few months. What could go wrong?” Nothing, that’s what. Nothing went wrong. “The big ol’ girl fired right up and all of her fluids stayed inside. I said a quiet ‘thank you’ to the moto gods and gave it a rev.”

“We lucked out with some nice February days here, and I was able to take the scrambler out on a few good road tests. The engine pulls really well, and you really only notice the hefty weight of the bike if you push it hard through a corner. The big wide seat lets you sit in comfort while the upgraded suspension soaks up the road. I enjoyed this build and would tackle another BMW anytime.” We’re ready when you are, Sean.

MotoRelic – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by Jonathan Thorpe ]

  • the watcher

    Sometimes​ I wonder if builders get caught up in the engineering, brands, philosophy, or “type” and forget that it all means nothing if it looks like shit.

    • MotoRelic

      Well, I can’t please everyone all the time with every build. Ha! Sorry to disappoint you. Maybe my next one will please you, the grand and powerful watcher. Have we ever had a chance to see one of your builds? Or are you truly only a watcher?

      • Thanks Sean for your polite reply. Please excuse some of out regulars; they tend to speak their minds some times…

        • guvnor67

          Ah, but it keeps one on one’s toes, and life interesting. The Mrs; “Does my bum look big in these jeans?” Me; “No love …… . Freakin huge!”

          • the watcher

            The missus comes out of the bathroom and asks “Does my bum look big in this?” I say, “Be fair love, it’s only a small bathroom.”

        • the watcher

          Sort of the point, surely.

      • One of the tidiest K builds around, love the way the tail piece hides those odd rear frame angles, and does it without adding visual bulk. Definitely achieves the desired horizontal lines and sits comfortably with the rest of the machine.Also enjoy a builder sharing some of the stress and elation that goes with creating machines like this. Always a shame when some pair of clown shoes kicks off the comments with a d!ckhead remark that shuts off useful discussion of the work being displayed.

        • the watcher

          Didn’t stop you, did it?

        • MotoRelic

          Thanks Speedtractor! I really appreciate it

      • the watcher

        Ok, MR, the comment was meant to be general, not specific to this bike, but re-reading it I can understand that it was carelessly worded and for that I apologise – sorry. As for myself, I don’t do “builds”, I personalise as I go along, as did the original cafe-racers. Currently it’s an ’05 Sportster 1200 with a chain conversion (the belt snapped), a Rough Crafts seat (the original leaked), and rigid struts (cheap way to pass an M.O.T). I’m old-school (and skint!)

    • Please keep the comments civil, Watcher. Telling a builder that their bike ‘looks like shit’ is a express train to getting-banned-ville.

      • the watcher

        What about LF calling me a wanker? Not that I care, but consistency?

    • Len Farquharson

      Stick to cricket, Watcher. Or at least change your name to another word that starts with ‘w’ and also ends in ‘er’. It also has a ‘k’ in there somewhere.

      • guvnor67


        • the watcher

          Not hardly, check his photo!

    • John Holiday

      I tend to agree with the sentiment, not so much your use of language. I wouldn’t call it a POS though, thats a bit rough. There is something off with the proportions, as with a few other of their builds. I cant put my finger on it other than feeling very top heavy.

      To me the seat looks too long and crawls up the back of the tank, there is a strange eye vertical line from the paint, that doesn’t complement the body work panel lines. From the top view it has the proportions of a 90’s Katana 600

      There are other K100’s that keep the tank and side panels and do it better IMO.

  • MotoTrooper

    I am partial to these K-bike builds. Making a bike visually clean and simple is no easy task. It would be cool to see the process photos, or a before and after. Everything seems very precise, balanced, and proportioned. Really great result. I wonder how loud that exhaust is though.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks MotoTrooper! I appreciate it! If you have instagram you can see a lot of the build photos @motorelic. As for the exhaust these bikes dont sound like a Japanese 4 cylinder. It was a bit of an odd exhaust sound at idle but sounded great revved up and riding. Since these photos ive installed a stubby muffler.

  • Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another Flying Brick that has included the tank in the overall design as well as this one. Those ‘meant to fit into pieces of plastic that aren’t there now’ tanks are the trickiest to make look right.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks Andrew!

      • JayJay

        Love how you made the lines of the tank work. In most other builds, that’s the thing that keeps me from really loving it. Not with yours. Can you make a Café next time? 😀

        • MotoRelic

          Thanks JayJay. Actually my next build is a 92 CB750. It will be cafe racer style. No plans yet for another bmw.

          • JayJay

            Haha okay! Looking forward to the next one..

    • AB

      Agree 100% and something I’ve moaned (OK complained) about on here before. See – it now looks ‘completed’ not ‘deleted’. Excellent build.

      • MotoRelic

        Thanks AB

  • Len Farquharson

    Brilliant brick build! Colour scheme, super slick!

    • guvnor67

      Yep, the colours really help it jump off the page! A really clean and tidy build.

      • MotoRelic

        Thanks Guvnor!

  • Oh, and the paint scheme is killer. Love it.

  • martin hodgson

    I absolutely love this build! The mechanical’s of the K bikes were very ahead of their time and feature BMW’s legendary reliability. But I always found them to be the epitome of ’80s ugly styling. BUT, this thing is absolutely gorgeous! The bodywork is first class, looking at the gaps, even and consistent all the way around, purposeful in their placement and the paint job just offsets it even better. Plus the side that exposes the single sided swingarm, the unobstructed view of that rear wheel, fave pic ever of a K bike! Well done MotoRelic, another amazing build!!!

    • Boom!

    • MotoRelic

      Dang Martin! Thanks so much for the kind words!

  • Andy Rappold

    When I look at that “bultaco BMW” thing, this build is miles ahead in my book.
    Great work, Sean !!

    • Is it OK that I like both?

      • guvnor67

        It’s a free (ish) world. If u didn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t, we’d all be driving beige Priuses (Priui?), or something.

  • Gary L Barton

    I really admire what Pipeburn is doing. I love to see what the customizers are doing out there. It’s a great thing about motorcycles, that we love to modify and personalize our rides. I don’t build myself, but wish I had the talent these builders possess!

  • AB

    I really like this build – see the seat unit panels align the tank panels – tidy. And a decent sized seat as well. A well executed K build for Sundays.

    • Hell yes.

      • the watcher

        Notice that the paint got the most approval? Tiddly pom.

  • Paulie

    I believe that most of the commenters aren`t aware that the bike has to fit the budget that you have. I am sure that Motorelic can create a K100 that would look like no K100 has, if the budget was unlimited.

    I think this brick looks just fine for a few weeks of work and the budget it had. Not the best one we seen, but good enough. Kudos to Motorelic for another completed bulid, keep them coming!

    • MotoRelic

      Budget is always the roadblock. And I have to work around my customers ideas, likes and dislikes. Most of the time Im free to go down my crazy path as long as it fits the customers budget. If im happy and the customer is happy, thats all that matters.