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THE BOLD BAVARIAN. Dustin Kott’s Daring BMW R100 Cafe Racer


Posted on April 27, 2017 by Andrew in Café Racer, Classic. 28 comments

Written by Martin Hodgson.

At a chaotic moment in history, it’s worth reflecting on the words of Bertrand Russell “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Russell’s logic is born out in the back story to today’s incredible Cafe Racer. One look at the catalogue of builds by California’s Kott Motorcycles and you know they can spin a spanner. But brilliant builder Dustin Kott was apprehensive about taking on the project having never worked on a BMW before. He needn’t have had any doubt, as he’s turned a once bulky 1977 BMW R100/7 Tourer into a sleek and slick Cafe Racer.

Kott was taking a rare moment at his desk when the client first made contact “In the process of answering emails, the request came through for a custom BMW build. I reminded the potential client that this was not only a machine which I had never built before but also had little to no knowledge of how to even approach or price this project. One short phone call later the customer simply stated that based on the gallery of bikes on the Kott Motorcycles website and some of the videos he had watched about the shop, that he implicitly trusted our capabilities and that we should move forward with the build.”

Dustin had also been tasked with finding the donor bike but just when he thought he’d done a deal the owner literally backed out of the sale with Kott standing there cash in hand. Luckily the Kott customer had also been on the hunt and turned up this particular bike before shipping it out to the SoCal shop. “Apart from the inspirational confidence that the client placed in the shop’s capability, inspiration came from the thought that our trademark stylistic approach would work just as well on the BMW as it had on any other brand we had customised before. Confidence, ultimately, turns out to be a cornerstone of inspiration.”

With the mental side of things taken care of it was over to the physical labour and the bike was completely torn down with the engine removed for a freshen up. To create the narrow and nimble rear end he was after Kott turned to the talented folks at Metal Lab Fab. The guys went the extra mile, constructing a jig so that vital considerations like suspension mounting and alignment, stability and strength were all taken into account in the process. With the new subframe mounted up Kott focussed his attention on creating the neat little hugger rear guard and smoothing out the entire frame before hitting it with a coat of black paint.

One thing that is synonymous with a Kott Motorcycles’ creation is the ultra-clean lines and incredible bodywork. The BMW is no exception but the tank comes from left field with the donor bike being a mid-90’s Yamaha XJR. The exaggerated dimensions of the large, swooping lines accentuate the minimalist rear end for Playboy model matching proportions. The tail-piece is done the old-fashioned way, hand forming metal with tools that are centuries old. As always the result is flawless with vintage brown leather providing the covering for the seat. The metal work receives a blue coat, deeper than the Atlantic, with a subtle change to the BMW logo so you know who really built this machine.

To get the bike handling as good as it looked, Dustin knew there was no point wasting his time with stock items and simply went for the best. A task made much easier thanks to the engineering genius at Cognito Moto who supplied the custom triple trees and stem that allow the fitment of cartridge style GSX-R USD forks. With the bike coming with factory fitted mag wheels, Kott wanted a more classic touch to balance out the modern fork setup. Thankfully his search turned up a rear spoked hub/diff with the front hub courtesy of those fine folks at Cognito Moto once again.

Kott is quick to give them credit, a big tick of approval coming from such a well-respected builder. “I realised that not only had these guys pretty much beat everyone to the punch, they had perfected their proprietary front hub design and triple clamp assembly.” Out the back, the rear gets a set of adjustable shocks fitted with progressive rate springs so the BMW can really be dialled in for the new owner. While the brakes get a serious upgrade with the GSX-R also donating its twin drilled discs and Tokico calipers. It would be criminal to fit the stainless spoked wheels up with anything but good quality rubber and the set of Michelins is exactly that.

With a Cafe Racer this cool it would be more than a little embarrassing if it didn’t start when you went to leave your favourite bar. So Dustin has rewired the bike from scratch and given it a total electrical overhaul. “The original starter motor, which is about the same size as the one on my 1966 Ford pickup, was replaced by a new lightweight version that could still be cranked over by a battery that is literally a quarter of the size of the stock unit,” explains Kott. There is also a new charging circuit and rotor with a high output stator and new regulator/rectifier. Problem solved.

“The original starter motor, which is about the size as the one on my 1966 Ford pickup, was replaced by a lightweight version.”

The big 980cc boxer has also come in for a makeover and if you’ve ever started one up, you’ll know those first few seconds on the choke feel like you are about to go 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. But as the big pistons get up to speed punching parallel to the ground, they now seal perfectly thanks to new rings and dismiss their charge via updated exhaust valves. You could do your hair in the reflection of the new header pipes and the raw stainless reverse cone mufflers strike the perfect balance between custom and classic.

Of course, with every Kott build come those little touches that just make it something special. The handcrafted rearsets are a brilliant vintage touch and flow seamlessly around the swingarm pivot. While the clip-on bars give the full Cafe Racer feel and wear only the barest of essentials, grip and rip is what it’s all about. Despite his initial doubts in even taking it on, there is nothing cocksure or thoughtless about this build. Kott used his own immense skills and the best vendors to deliver the result and that’s his biggest take away from the project.“The fact that there is now an established community of builders and shop owners that can turn out a machine of this quality is truly unique,” says Kott. And we don’t doubt it.

See the bike in person at the inaugural “Outliers Guild” Show in Downtown L.A. on May 5-6th.

[ Kott Motorcycles: Web – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by Alex Martino ]








  • John Forsythe

    That is one skinny rear tire!

    Nice build. But inattention to the cables and wiring up front really ruins the look for me. There is crap going every which way. Longer HT leads could buy tucked up against the frame, brake line maybe shortened or re-routed, and is that the clutch cable just hanging down? It’s a mess.

    • Pretty sure ‘inattention’ isn’t the right word to use. Dustin would have thought long and hard about all these details.

      • John Forsythe

        Maybe. But it’s still a cluttered mess either way. It draws the eye because the rest of it is so clean. 🙂

    • AB

      WTF the cables are there for a reason man

      • John Forsythe

        Really? I had no idea…

        • Keith T Robinson

          I agree the cables should have been tucked somehow.

  • JayJay

    I was looking forward to this and it’s a great bike, full of nice details (rearset superbe).
    That said, I really don’t like the tank.. Especially the gap behind the head tube and the tank interrupts the flow.

    • I don’t mind it at all. And it has that low and wide look that just adds to the bad assery.

      • JayJay

        Luckely we don’t have to agree on the subject. The more I look at it the more I like it. He has put an xs1100 tank on the bonneville he die, that may have suited it better. Still it’s a quality build

  • nathan

    Hard to nitpick on such a well thought-out build. Cafe racers have been just about done to death, as have boxer builds. This somehow manages to be a refreshing take on both.

  • the watcher

    I always admire Mott builds more than I like them. For my taste, the low bum-stop never seems balanced in relation to the tank. That said, the quality speaks for itself. BTW brown is NOT the new black; when you see 3 ex-Premiership footballers all wearing brown shoes with dark blue/black suits you’re on warning!

    • John Forsythe

      I always thought of brown, or any other color really, and motorcycles as a no no when it comes to clothing or seat coverings. Shows too much dirt and road grime. Black always looks black. Brown, well, that’s pretty hip. Guess that says it all…

      • the watcher

        Is the “Big O” the man in brown? Did Mick want to paint it brown? Is the rider wearing brown always gonna shoot you in the back? I think not.

  • Jester the Clown

    I can’t see a speedo . . .?

  • Jim Stuart

    The tank ruins an otherwise nice build, too bad.

    • COuldn’t disagree more. Tank makes the build.

      • Jim Stuart

        I respect your opinion but it appears that I’m not the only one that feels this way. That being said I couldn’t disagree more, the tank is an absolute abomination designed to fit and flow with a Yamaha model not a German machine with decades of styling that has remained true to the brand. You don’t hang a coon tail on a classic bike and call it innovation.

        • John Andrew Schmanek

          True to the brand? What does that mean to an original work of art?

      • Greybeard1

        +1
        Far more attractive than a Hoske or…the other one….so ugly I forgot the name.

      • John Andrew Schmanek

        I agree. That tank is beautiful and the line it gives to the top of this bike makes it.

  • properjob

    I love the tank and the overall lines and the visible beauty of the engineering precision, but agree that swooping cables/hydraulic lines at the front end do take something off the overall shine. I know I go on like a broken record, but I still think the no-mudguard fashion is ridiculous. A beautifully crafted front ‘guard would be a style statement in itself and make it look more like a completed project (IMHO).

  • RangerMoto

    Never thought of the XJ as a donor tank. Absolutely brilliant, especially on a boxer. The only flaw I see in an almost flawless bike is the headlight bucket mounting hardware.

  • Len Farquharson

    So crisp, clean and highly desirable! Love the tank and the colour scheme. The current crop of paint jobs continue draw from me gasps of genuine awe and wow! Thank you KOTT for such superb cafe craftsmanship.

  • AB

    Whoop de shite I hear people say another airhead. But this quality build is severely stressing the stitching on my jeans…..

  • Blueline

    The use of the XJR tank makes sense, the lines of the bottom of the tank follow the top of the engine block. I can’t tell if Dustin has levelled out the engine block, as opposed to having it at an angle like these airheads came from the factory, but I can’t tell the difference and the engine looks level to me.

    A well thought out build, by a builder with taste, who has the hookups to build the components, and the skills to make em work.

  • Keith T Robinson

    Clean and not obscene . Nothing new here and maybe that’s good. I am
    Not a fan of the empty space behind the motor/under the seat in any of these type of builds.

  • The dude

    Superb. It ties the entire room together.

  • BoxerFanatic

    Nice elemental build. essence of airhead cafe bike. I would like to see that color blue on a toaster tank…