BMW R-series customs. Go on, say it. You’ve seen more of them than Trump’s seen golf courses. You’ve seen more beefed-up boxers than a New York gym. You’ve seen more loud R’s than an overloaded pirate ship. We get it. But when we saw this little R100RS from France’s JRM Motorcycle, we were intrigued. Knobby tires? Nope. Bobber seat? Nope again. Murdered out? Extra nopes. Contrary to all expectations, this one has a road-racer-meets-motard vibe that we might just be digging. A lot.
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 take on the build platform du jour, the mighty (square) BMW K100.
This old 1986 BMW R80RS has had four iterations. In its original form it was a tourer, designed to ferry middle-aged German men to Paris for wine tasting, to Madrid for lunch, or Kiev for sex tourism. Then Tattoo Customs got their grubby hands on it, stripped it back, painted it black and stuck Firestones on it, dubbing it a mixture of a cafe racer and a bratstyle bike – a ‘Brafe’. But the Firestones went all Firestoney and dumped the bike onto the road. So the third model was born: a nose down cafe racer with a psychedelic paint scheme. And now it’s been changed again – this time into knockout Bultaco-inspired flat tracker. Fourth time’s a charm.
Think about American motor racing legend Eddie Lawson for a moment. You’re probably picturing him on the early 80s Kawasaki Z1000 he made famous. Or maybe it’s the mid 80s 500cc World Championship Marlboro Yamaha. Or, at a stretch, it could be his Rothman’s Honda of the late 80s. And unless you’d had one too many disco biscuits, a BMW boxer is probably the last bike that was on your mind. That’d never work. Or would it? Maybe we’ve all had one too many biscuits, because from the moment we laid eyes on this Eddie-inspired No. 21 R1200R, the latest build from Switzerland’s VTR Customs, we were smitten. Eddie on a Beemer? Human sacrifice? Dogs and cats living together? Count us in.
Moto Adonis is a curiously named workshop based out of Roosendaal in the Netherlands. They’ve cut their teeth on a few staples of the scene over the last few years, producing a Virago cafe racer and some tidy old airheads. This time around it’s another crouched down, cafe’d up special but built around a rare sight in the custom scene – a late-model 2004 BMW R1100S – the dad jeans of sport bikes.
You can always tell when a shop reaches the next level. It starts with the outside-the-square thinking and the inspired bike builds that you totally weren’t expecting. Just when you’re thinking they will do ‘X’, they’ll come at you with ‘Y’. And a bloody good ‘Y’ at that. Almost like a guitarist coming back from a midnight meeting with a mysterious stranger at a crossroads on the edge of town, you’ll find that they’re suddenly playing on a whole new level. But the last and most telling trait is their through-put. A shop that’s perfected their skills seemingly has no problems sending you a killer bike every other week. And right now, that shop is Austria’s NCT Motorcycles. Here’s their latest deal with the devil, an amazing BMW R100RS scrambler they call the ‘Buffalo’.
Let’s just get it out of the way shall we? C’est magnifique. Because there was simply no way to write about this exquisite French crafted BMW without saying it. This machine is the answer to the question, “Can you build a motorcycle that has it all?” Many say it’s an impossible task; exquisite vintage looks, bulk horsepower with race-winning speed and capable of a reliable Sunday cruise with corners to kill. But Ludwig Ascher wanted everything and as an airhead specialist at his shop St Brooklyn Motorcycles in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, he decided to build a BMW with the lot. It’s a 1955 BMW Sprint Racer with a hefty heart transplant they call “L’Etonnante”.
You don’t have know Hageman MC to recognise their work. Seen those Virago cafe racers? Greg Hageman helped create that look. Oogled the Yamaha SCR950 Scrambler? That was a shameless riff on his builds. His work is clinically excellent and his influence on the scene is profound – he’s like a motorcycling Bono, but without being an insufferable dickhead. This time around he’s tackled his first BMW, a 1983 K100RS. And he wasn’t confident it would come out looking this good.
The journey through adult life we’re told is a relatively straight forward process. Work, breed, sleep – there’s even a rough guide to follow. Family and society steer many of us into careers we’re not really sure we want to follow, but before you know it the show’s over and the pension cheques start to arrive. But some restless souls are meant for more than one path and despite walking the same road for many decades, they decide it’s never too late to change. For Spain’s Carlos Ormazabal, a near lifetime’s career at camera giant Nikon would come to an end when a thirst for something new took hold. It’s been quenched by the opening of his own custom bike shop called The Foundry MC. And with just his second drink, he’s ready to serve a barnstorming 1991 BMW K75 street tracker inspired by one of the industry’s best.
It will come as no surprise to Pipeburn readers, the general public or even your garden-variety buddhist hermit that there’s a real flood of ‘70s-era BMW customs at the moment. Hell, there might even be more of them than Kardashians; but I digress. It’s clearly a trend that has jumped the shark; more often than not we’re politely declining them en masse. And with so many floating around, it’s easy to get jaded. Or so we thought until we saw this, the latest BMW build from northern Chicago’s Analog Motorcycles. It’s a stark testament to the fact that no matter how loud the background noise is, quality work and classic looks never grow old.