For more than a thousand years the Czech city of Prague has been one of the political and cultural centres of Europe, a thriving community of intellectual thought and creativity. So important is the city centre and its ancient buildings that it’s listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, an honour normally reserved for single structures like the Taj Mahal or natural wonders such as Uluru. The first criteria for such a listing is that the place “represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance”, so you could hardly ride around the place on a plastic fantastic 250cc number and be doing the city any justice. Instead the appropriately named Custom Culture Co. has taken a 1974 BMW R90/6 and with their own artistic creativity crafted a classic ride to cruise the cobblestone streets. Just like the incredible pieces of art on display in the city’s National Gallery this CCC’s chef-d’oeuvre has an equally impressive name, Frau Turkisblau!
In the quiet German city of Oldenburg a highly skilled carpenter whittles away his days designing and crafting the finest furniture from timbers gathered from the local oak forests. But by night a darker side comes out to play, the chisel and mallet swapped for the tools of a blacksmith, here the carpenter turns motorcycle builder creating minimalist machines with the single purpose of carving up those same forests in a totally different way. Meet Marcel Papenberg who’s turned his passion and skill for motorcycle building into a second business, Box-Werk Custombikes, run in his spare time producing purposeful BMW’s from a collection of tired old machines just waiting to be restored.
Ah, Denmark! A beautiful nation with friendly folk who have given the world such gifts as Lego, the Pastry and the Vikings. Have fun, eat well and die! Maybe the lads from Relic Motorcycles eat pastries for their breakfast, of that I can’t be sure, but when it comes to building things from pieces and murdering them out, they never let their heritage down! Based in Aarhus, Denmark the team of builders are forging a reputation for creating low and lean machines with a dark attitude. In steel we trust is their motto and there’s no plastic here, just the best old school bikes infused with a new beating black heart. When it came time for team member Kristian Bech to build himself a new ride he’d always “liked and admired the look, performance and history of these old boxer twins” so why not go straight for the top, take one legendary 1977 BMW R 100RS and give it a full Relic Motorcycles make over.
The Eastern Alps of Austria must be one of the most picturesque places in the world, from the snow-covered alpine region, to the 200 crystal clear lakes and the many castles, museums and breweries to visit there is not shortage of things to do. Everywhere you go the food is as spectacular as the scenery and not only does the beer flow but there is an abundance of wineries and literally a “Cider Trail”. The only thing left to decide is how to get around the perfectly laid mountain roads and it’s hard to think of anything that suits more than two wheels. It’s here that David Widmann and his team Kurt and Manuel operate National Custom Tech (or NCT) and turn out the perfect machines for sweeping through the mountain passes or munching up the flower covered meadows. Although the young guns have built everything from a Ducati Streetfighter to a side-car equipped Moto Guzzi, their passion and pride is in slick old school BMW’s.
The Red Baron, a.k.a. Manfred von Richthofen, was a German fighter pilot with a reputation that seems to have well and truly outlived the man himself. A legend in his own lifetime, he and his red Fokker Dr.I. triplane became synonymous with dashing heroism, chivalry and a decidedly old-school approach to battle in a time when gentleman were still gentleman. But imagine for a moment if, instead of the all the codes of honour and valour, the guy was just plain bad. No mercy or code of conduct, just an evil bastard with a cold, dead heart. Got that pictured in your head? Great. Now can you guess what bike he rides to the airfield? Why, this one of course. Meet the latest magnificent machine from Denmark’s Relic Motorcycles – their BMW ‘Black Baron’.
Evolution always seems slow for the living. They are blissfully unaware of any new creatures rising up, until a swarm of better beasts takes them down as they are going about their daily business. From the post war Hogs on the interstates in the USA to the Motorway Cafes of a Rockin’ ‘60s Great Britain, the commuter class that was previously afraid of us has grown accustomed to these stalwarts of the custom motorcycle scene, as generations of bike builders have followed their founder’s leads. But in an increasingly urbanised world, a new animal has emerged from the city streets of Munich; two of its favourite sons have joined forces to put their signature touches on Bavaria’s most famous brand and created a revolution, codenamed ‘DA#4’. Prepare to witness first-hand the birth of the ‘Neo-Racer’ genre.
With the boom in popularity of the R series BMW’s of late the men who designed and worked on its many incarnations must be sitting back and scratching their heads, this they would say is not what they had in mind; BMW until recently had always been a very conservative manufacturer. That’s even more true of the R100rs that was built with the purpose of slapping on some panniers and cruising the highways of Europe, with the first review by Cycle Magazine describing it as a “Basic long-haul BMW”. But Craig and Thor of Route 62 Customs from Port Elizabeth in South Africa saw in this a 1982 BMW R100rs what so many others have seen, solid engineering, mechanical strength and a sense of unique style that would be perfect for their shops first custom.
If you’ve been building motorcycles for a long time, you will start accumulating parts like a housewife collects Tupperware. My garage, for example, is full of old parts I have taken off, upgraded, bought cheap at swap meets or had thrown in when I’ve purchased a bike – it’s damn hard to say no to free spare parts, right? Like many builds featured on these pages, the Bavarian Knight began as a big pile of metal from a multitude of different bikes. The owner, John Yeosock, initially purchased a stash of old cast-offs from John Landstrom at Blue Moon Cycles. Then, not knowing what to make out of all the random parts, he contacted Bryan Fuller from Fuller Moto in Alanta to see if he could help. Together, they went back to John’s warehouse and rummaged through all his bits and pieces until they had picked up all the parts they felt they could build a modern, yet classic BMW cafe racer.
Hot on the heals of their 1 Show winning, twin turbo’d, controversy stirrin’ R100, Boxer Metal have graced our eyeballs yet again with this, their latest creation. Riding high on the current wave of love for all things boxer, the shop seems like they can do no wrong. And, as if to rub that fact in our appreciative little biker faces, they’ve gone and topped the untoppable. Sure, those two turbos would be a real damn hoot for a while… but what happens when you start to miss carving up the corners? This happens. It’s 70s. It’s orange. It’s fared to within an inch of its 42-year-old life. It’s Boxer Metal’s beautiful R90S.
In the automotive world the basic aesthetics of a motorcycle and car could hardly be more different but they have always followed many of the same trends throughout the decades. What else could explain the sheer number of squared off boxes in the ’80s or the silhouettes of sex appeal that were ’60s cars and bikes. But the inspiration of a beautiful woman has been a constant throughout, we’ll have to blame 1980’s fairings on shoulder pads, so when Arjan van den Boom describes wanting the look of his 1986 BMW R80 to be a “Robust gas tank, big shock, small ass and fat rear tire” it’s fair to say the female form was on his mind.