Written by Andrew Jones
You’ve fantasised about your better half being into bikes as much as you are. Don’t deny it. Riding together. Wrenching together. Cruising the classifieds together. For most of us, it’s nothing more than a loopy, ‘I’ve had three glasses from the top shelf’ dream. But for Boxer Metals’ Bec and Chris, it’s an everyday reality. And with 55 years’ experience with Beemers between them, it’s no idle romantic match either. Here’s their latest love child; a matt khaki ‘83 R80 urban scrambler made from a secret stash of bikes that’s as close to perfect as any BMW could be without causing a Munich conniption.
“We design and manufacture parts for all years and models of BMW motorcycles,” says Rebecca. “Parts as simple as a bracket to hold your phone charger to foot pegs, handlebar controls, seating & lighting. Chris’ 35 years of experience and my 20 years makes for a lot of knowledge. As well as working together, we live together, raise a family together and travel together. Everyday is exciting; we love what we do. With two creative minds constantly going seven days a week, it’s easy to think outside the boxer box.”
Over a one month period, they received multiple emails and text messages from local friends about a secret stash of BMW motorcycles and parts. Playing detective, they located the booty and its owner. In it was the motorbike they used for this very build, along with another complete BMW bike and a few truck loads of BMW parts and accessories from the early 1970s right up to some brand new R1150 and R1200 parts.
“Our inspiration for this scrambler was the customer. He specifically wanted a ‘no chrome and green-tanked’ BMW he could ride anywhere. But the biggest challenge was that the customer is vertically challenged. He asked us, ‘Can you build me a motorbike that I can touch the ground on? Oh, and I want it to have a green tank.” Chris said yes, of course. Then his mind got going and he thought, “What if BMW had made a military-styled bike in the 1980’s? What would it look like?“
[superquote]“The biggest challenge was that the customer is vertically challenged. He asked us, ‘Can you build me a motorbike that I can touch the ground on?’ ”[/superquote]
While making a few rough sketches, the bike was stripped down to the frame for powder coating and all hardware was flagged for replacement or replating. The engine was disassembled and key components like the pistons, valves, timing chain and clutch were checked and/or replaced, so that the customer would have a low to no maintenance schedule. “We sourced a BMW police bike tank from the mid ‘70s and instead of building our own rear end, we contacted Down & Out Motorcycles in the UK for one of their seat, frame, and fender combo kits which turned out to have an excellent fit and finish.”
“For the suspension, we rebuilt the front forks and added some short YSS shocks in the rear, allowing us to lower the bike almost 2 inches front and back. Next, we swapped the mag wheels for spokes mounted to 18 inch Borrani rims. In keeping with the simple build aesthetic, we kept the handlebar controls and switches as stock BMW items, as well as the headlight and the wiring harness. The only electrical accessories we have added are the Acewell 2853 dial and the Rizoma turn signals. Always thinking about weight, we designed an exhaust system with its own internal baffling and no heavy mufflers.” The two report that the bike has a very nice tone with plenty of back pressure… and it’s apparently a hoot to ride, too.
“The hardest part of this build was hearing from the customer that he couldn’t pick up the scrambler for four months because their young daughter was ill and in need of special care. Having two kids of our own, it really hit home and our hearts. The bike was about 80% finished when we heard the news, so we took it apart again and added a few more things for his comfort and safety. This included a modern ignition system, all-new engine electrics and some new engine & transmission internals. We did this at no cost to the customer, because sometimes you need to go that extra mile.”
“We really like how clean and simple this scrambler is and the fact that we too are a little vertically challenged means we know first hand what a fun and manageable bike it is to ride. It is almost like being on a mini bike with a 800cc BMW motor. It feels like it could be ridden anywhere from city sidewalks to mountain tracks chasing your buddies on their DR250s, and all the time having a big smile on your face!”