What’s the biggest change you’ve ever undergone when buying a new bike? For many of us, it’s simply the newer, bigger, better model of whatever it was we were already riding. The more daring of us might jump ship to another brand or, if they are getting old and all complain-y like me, something with a bit more comfort that’s easier on the wrists. But have you ever thought about making a really big leap of faith and choosing something that’s just totally and utterly different in almost every single way? Austria’s Titan Motorcycles faced something along these lines with their latest build. In the end, the customer rode out on this, one of the nicest, most original Beemer Bricks we seen all year. But can you guess what he rode in on?
You’re a fly on the wall of a BMW Motorrad meeting in Germany in 1977. Much to your horror, you witness what looks to be the end of the company happening right before your very eyes. Faced with the massive challenges of Japanese dominance, the ‘death’ of the boxer twin and big new emissions regulations, the company’s Kaisers are about to sign off what looks to be a train wreck on two wheels. They are all in agreement; they will put a four-cylinder Peugeot engine sideways into a new BMW bike. Surely this idea is so comical and misguided, it’s the last bike the company will ever make. Fast forward 40 years to the present day and somehow we’re in the middle of a BMW K-series resurgence. Up is down. Black is white. Square is cool. There are bricks everywhere and here’s the latest one to be thrown; it’s the Wrench Kings’ very black, very cool BMW K100.
The relationship between client and creator is always a tricky one. Just ask any designer; their customers always want a game-changing creation for nix, and they usually want it yesterday. But great work always takes time. Time, and the patronage of someone who understands that the bike builder might actually know more about, you know, building bikes. When this happens, art often follows. Art like this, for instance; the latest and dare we say greatest from Kentucky’s best custom bike builder, Scott Halbleib of H Garage.
Approaching one of the most enigmatic builders in the world with your idea for a custom build can be a nerve-racking experience, when you bring a limited budget and a quirky bike to the party you might want a stiff drink first. But for Karl “Ed” Renoult of France’s Ed Turner Motorcycles every new challenge is a chance to test his building skills and in this case give some attitude to a bike in its original fair he describes as a “Norman Wardrobe”. Hugo the owner of this BMW K100 really only had two requests, he wanted a blue tank and a tracker build the rest would be in Karl’s more than capable hands. Only one other thing, Hugo is a student and as Karl found out that meant “no dosh”, but that hasn’t stopped Ed Turner Motorcycles turning out another first class build proving yet again a great builder doesn’t need a blank cheque to create a masterpiece.
If you are anything like me, you’ll always have your latest ‘bike of interest.’ To the uninitiated, that’s the bike that is currently catching your eye. The one that you look at first when you surf eBay or thumb through the local classifieds. And for me right now, the bike is definitely the BMW K100. What it is about the K that really pushes my buttons, I’m not quite sure. Maybe it’s the ludicrous car engine laying on it’s side in the frame. Maybe it’s the shaft drive, or maybe it’s just the jaw-dropping mass of the things. Whatever the case, if I started a new project bike today, a Beemer K100 would be it. And it’s not just me who’s thinking along these lines. Take, for instance, one Ben Kingham of BSK SpeedWorks in Bedfordshire, England. He too has the bug, and I think it’s fair to say that he been bitten worse than I have. A lot worse.