Written by Tim Holdup.
Let’s face it, building a custom motorcycle can be a financially draining task. But couple that with a post-GFC economy and it can really be a feat. Yet these are the very factors that can also lead builders to think outside the square and develop innovative, alternative fabrication techniques. This is how “Copper”, a 1973 BMW R60 was bought to life. Meet Dream Wheels Heritage, a shop run by Hélder Moura, a marketer from Portugal and Jose Miguel Martins, an automotive mechanic with 30 years experience.
Perception is a funny thing. It can be the difference between a positive or negative outcome, between liking or not liking something or someone and often the cause of missed opportunities. To change perception usually takes a change of mindset or to be shown there may be more to something than meets the eye. Until recent years, BMW R-series bikes from the 1980s could have been considered in a similar light. A bike for old guys into function more than form. Solid, dependable, but neither exciting nor innovative. Or at least that was a guy called Bruce’s perception of them when he visited Brisbane’s Ellaspede Customs as a customer. But that was a view which was soon to change – especially after eyeing a certain R-series on a little site called Pipeburn.
If you ever found yourself in England and in desperate need of a cleansing ale, get yourself a Fullers. And if you wanted transport to get to the pub, try a Jaguar. Then say, perhaps, you find yourself low on petrol while en route, a British Petroleum service station is ideal. But should you have a moment of clarity while refilling and decide you need a decent custom bike between your legs, then a Kevil’s creation will be your best bet. You see, if there’s one shop that’s as British as bulldogs and bad weather, it’s a Kevil’s Speed Shop creation. And here’s their latest victory; an R80/7 named ‘Artisan’. Just don’t mention the German thing…
As the school ma’am cliché goes, “begin as you wish to continue”. Or maybe legendary Australian racer Peter Brock said it better, when he coined the phrase “bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell.” Whatever the case, we thought that we’d kick things off after our big redesign with the latest (and dare we say sweetest) bike from one of Europe’s best shops. Or should we say ateliers. It’s a rather svelte-looking BMW R100R , and it’s from those famous Frenchmen with a German name, Blitz Motorcycles.
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?
Here’s the second bike from a guy who’s reputation is growing faster than a wave of nausea at a Nickelback concert. Arguable one of Eastern Europe’s top shops after only his second build, we’re genuinely excited about what this guy has up his oily, rolled sleeves. This BMW follows his blinding ’83 R80 job from a few months back; this time he’s turned his eye to a rather nice R60/7 from ’77. His name is Blaž Šuštaršič. He has 5 diacritics in his name. His shop is called ER Motorcycles. This is ‘Macchiato’.
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Alaska is referred to as America’s last frontier and in summer, thousands of motorcyclists flock there to experience the spectacular scenery and the endless miles of winding roads. Although, most of the bikes heading up there are touring, cruising and enduro bikes. It now looks like the café racer scene is starting to take off – one bike at a time. Alaskan local Erik Christensen and his friends have started the Northern Café Racers. “Our café posse is four deep” says Erik. “We are just a few guys with everyday lives, building café bikes in our garages in anticipation of the incredible Alaskan riding season.” This stunning BMW R90/6 isn’t just the first bike we have featured from Alaska, but it might just be the first café racer built in Alaska.
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You can feel their attraction. Like the force of gravity, they seem to exert a powerful yet invisible pull on all bodies near and far. You can try and avoid them, moving in an elliptical orbit so that you fool yourself into thinking that you can escape their grasp, but somehow you always end up spiraling inwards. Are we talking black holes? Dying stars? Galaxies? No. We are talking Bayerische Motoren Werke Motorrad; BMW motorcycles to the layman. The Americans used to say that eventually, all riders will end up on a Harley. And that may be true of for the Amerikanische volk, but as for the rest of the world I’m convinced that a boxer twin is our true destiny. And if I could choose my destiny, it would be this bike. It’s just about the cleanest, most detailed Beemer build you will ever see.
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You’ve got to admit, when it comes to balls-to-the-wall cool shit, the Germans definitely punch above their weight. They kicked the modern world off to a great start in 1885 with the car, and they pretty much haven’t looked back since. Computers, rockets, jets, helicopters, the machine gun and of course the motorcycle; all realised by our industrious little Deutsch buddies. Which brings us to our latest feature bike. It’s not only based upon one of the nicest bikes to ever come out of Germany, but it’s been suitable modified by one of the country’s premier custom bike builders. A perfect storm of mutterland genius? We’d like to think so. Introducing the latest build form Kingston Custom – their bobbed ‘75 R75/6.
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We love the scramblers coming out of Europe at the moment. The latest is this BMW R80RT built by the talented brothers at Emporio Elaborazioni Meccaniche named ‘Carnera’. To most of us this name doesn’t mean a thing, but to Italian’s, Primo Carnera was one of the greatest boxers Italy has produced – winning the world heavyweight championship back in 1933. “We named it after him because our bike is a big, elegant and like him, it has a boxer engine too” says Andrea. The bike was commissioned by a customer from Tuscany whose brief was simple “create an elegant and bad ass vintage enduro.” Well, we think they’ve built a knockout Beemer.
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