The custom bike scene is booming with a host of mainly older bikes being turned into Café Racers, Trackers, Bobbers, Scramblers and just about everything in between. But when Pierluigi Portolano, founder and designer of MotoRecyclos in Italy talks about his building philosophy he sums up in the best way I’ve heard just how to approach creating new from old. “When one thinks of a new bike the real challenge is not distorting it, but rather being able to grasp the essence and merge it with a new personality.” And that is exactly what he has done with his company’s latest creation, a BMW R80 known as the ‘Boxer Country’. It takes that trusty old German air-cooled twin and with a great deal of Italian passion and ingenuity fuses the two to create a stunning machine that looks as good as it goes.
El Solitario Motor Co. is a little custom shop nestled outside a tiny village in the Spanish countryside. Staffed by four regulars, David, Valeria, Frank and Tony, the operation is assisted by a group of friends who drift in and out of the shop in their spare time to lend a hand. Known for their raw, eclectic builds, El Solitario collaborated with famed German workshop Urban Motor to produce this 1978 BMW R80/7 bobber dubbed ‘Gabriel’. Urban Motor lead the project doing all the mechanical work while El Solitario added their creative offbeat style to the aesthetics. As it turned out, building ‘Gabriel’ was a match made in heaven.
As the custom bike scene becomes increasingly crowded, builders constantly try bend, break and make something that’s going to turn people’s heads. There’s genre-defying builds, customs built on increasingly unusual base models and all manner of gaudy paint schemes and odd angles of fabrication designed to get exposure on websites like Pipeburn. Because of this, sometimes you need a build that’s just straightforward enough to remind you how good a simple, tight café racer can be. Devon-based Kevil’s Speed Shop help remind us of how effortless a bespoke ride can look with their 1981 BMW R80 café racer dubbed ‘Jellyfish’.
The kids are alright; 26-year-old Sander Ilves from Estonia took a crashed ’84 BMW R80 and created a mean and clean street tracker for his own amusement. The budget? Pretty much zero. The team? Just him. And the shop? Nothing but his cold, Estonian garage.
Tattoo Projects is back with a Hot Rod Racer that took a serious tumble while living life in the fast lane that nearly cost it its life. But a motivated team ready to roll up their sleeves, with creativity running through their veins and Jack and Coke fuelling their engines have this 1986 BMW R80 turning heads once again.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
When you’re a Frenchman who desires a German BMW to carve through the streets of London England then who better to turn to than Portugal’s Ton-Up Garage. This cross-continental custom BMW R80 is both a testament to its builders and the great state in which the custom motorcycle scene finds itself. Borders disappear, there are no limits other than your imagination and the skill of your builder; the language of cool customs is universal. Ton-Up’s Daniel and Pedro have proven themselves master builders and their BMW’s are some of the best in the world.
Written by Marlon Slack.
While possibly the least effective language to serenade someone, the German dialect has an unusually large repertoire of words to describe some very particular feelings. For example – deppenfahrerbeäugung is the glare you throw a bad driver after overtaking them and backpfeifengesicht means a ‘a face that asks to be slapped’. UK-based Kevil’s Speed Shop have seized this wonderfully descriptive language to name their 1983 BMW R80 the Uber – a German prefix meaning anything great or superlative. And also an affordable crowd-sourced taxi company. But mostly the superlative bit.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
As static pieces of motorcycle art the creations of Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles are perfectly at home amongst the best in the business. The fact that they also excel at the tough world of long distance trial riding is truly incredible. Inspired by the heyday of International Six Days Trials proprietor of Fuel Bespoke Motorcycles Karles Vives builds some of the most battle hardened customs on the planet, not built just to look like they can take on desserts, they can and do! So when Didier, a French customer saw Fuel’s own R80 STrial, he made the call and ordered one customised just to his liking.
Written by Ian Lee.
There are clean builds. And then there are ‘clean’ builds. Motorcycles so neat, you would imagine the mechanic scrubbing up before working on it. The latest build from Jesse Bassett and The Gasbox is one such build. A BMW special the likes of which the world has never seen, it is born of German build quality paired with American styling cues. These two opposite ideals work together to create a machine that has been built with surgical precision, and comes out looking like something the BMW factory itself would have created, if it had been founded in Ohio instead of Munich that is.
It’s the worst possible scenario for any bike builder. A project for someone ‘in the industry’. What chance have you got to satisfy a customer who’s seen it all? Someone who knows exactly what they want and isn’t afraid to micro-manage you to make sure they get it; someone who is about a likely to say ‘it’s up to you’ as Miley Cyrus is likely to keep her tongue in her mouth. Yet that’s just what Shaun and Carl from Down & Out Café Racers were up against when they took on their latest build. And who was this client, we hear you ask?