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.
Imagine you work at a motorcycle dealership that sells only the most exclusive of brands from Italy and Germany. You also own the latest and greatest BMW Sportsbike on the planet. Do you really need another bike that was also built for the road and is nearly 30 years old? Of course you do! And that’s why Joe DeMoss built this stunning 1988 BMW R100RS over a period of nine months. Because motorcycling runs in his veins. Because working everyday at Florida’s Eurocycles of Tampa Bay has made him a hands-on kind of guy. And because his fondest memories are of he and his father sharing time in the garage working on just about anything with wheels.
Many of us set out to build the bike of our dreams. It’s rare that someone literally builds the bike in their dreams. Donovan Muller of Cytech did just this in his latest build, a monochromatic masterpiece that was designed with his eyes closed, but built with his mind open. Taking design cues from a machine he envisioned while asleep, Donovan has put the Cytech touch on a BMW R50/5 of 1971 vintage. The end result proving it doesn’t matter which model Beemer that Cytech is working on, the end result is something out of this world.
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.
Kevil’s Speed Shop describe themselves as “The UK’s premier custom BMW builder, producing top quality, one-off commissioned BMWs.” It’s a bold statement, but with bikes as perfect as this 1981 BMW R100 just one example of what rolls out of their workshop they have plenty of evidence to back it up. Founded by Kevin Hill, a man with decades of experience, the team operate out of the seaside town of Paignton in Devon. Having seen one of their past builds Andrea, who is an IT consultant from Prague, knew exactly what he wanted. With that past build in mind he gave the team free rein to build him the ultimate BMW R Café Racer and boy, did they deliver.
Goddamn Steve McQueen. There – I said it. Am I jealous? A little bit. But mostly I’m confused. Just how does one single, solitary guy amass so much coolness in one lifetime? The stunts, the flying, the racing – but mostly, the bikes. And especially the desert sleds. It’s almost as if he was bored one day and decided to invent his own genre. Talented bastard. Clearly Anvil Motociclette agree. Obviously this isn’t the first time that a build has been influenced by the Big Mac, but we’d wager that it’s never be done quite like this. Here’s the Milano duo’s latest – their sled-inspired BMW R100RS ‘Arsenica’.
“Breaker one, Breaker one, I might be crazy but I ain’t dumb, Craaaazy Cooter comin’ atcha, come on.” Growing up watching the Dukes of Hazzard with his friends Eric Kalter was given the nickname of the wild mechanic Crazy Cooter from the hit show and although he might not be a mechanic you’d never know from what he’s achieved with this stunning 1994 K1100rs. Many would argue you’d have to be crazy to pick a “flying brick” to turn into a stripped down custom machine, but although he is a service manager in the printing industry by day when the shed lights come on Eric becomes one hell of a builder under the moniker Cooter’s Café.
From an old factory in the Dutch city of Roosendaal, Daan Borsje and his team at Moto Adonis share a common purpose of “building awesome vintage bikes”. Having shown they can build clean vintage customs with an impressive portfolio of both European and Japanese vintage machines, they decided to take a different path on this, their latest build. From the remains of an old Dutch Police Bike, a BMW R65, they have created a Neo-Utilitarian Scrambler that wouldn’t be out-of-place shredding the boggy fields on the Keutenberg or centre stage in a new Mad Max film. Stripped of all its law enforcement paraphernalia, the little BMW from the R range was taken back to bare bones to reveal the outlaw within.
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’.