Some commentators might say that the appearance of BMW R-series customs is a sign of the Europe wide austerity measures, but we know better. These bikes are being bought and built in their droves for good reason. People really like them. In fact our inboxes are stuffed with R80 and R100s owned by happy, chuffed, owners - all we have to do is pick the best ones to share with you, and this R80 from Switzerland qualifies nicely; as a classy build with a good story and decent pics too. (Pay attention all you Shed-builders) Alan is the kind of convert we love. He didn't build this bike as a budget commuter or a compromise ride, he fell in love with the Boxer twin, sold his car, and built exactly what he wanted to. Here's the story in his own words, as we simply can't re-tell it any better. I am Alan from Switzerland, 41 years old. Elvis died when he was 42. Man that is a scary thought. I am not as much into Rock'n'Roll as he was especially not into all the unhealthy stuff. But anyway, a man comes to a point in his life where he should start doing what he always wanted to do. If you don’t it can grow inside to something really bad. Remember the Hulk, right. About 14 years ago I got inspired by a friend, Olivier P. who took his 2V Dakar GS to northern Africa and all that stuff. I was really amazed and started biking myself. I never became the off road and racing crack that he is, but I made a few trips myself and I even ended up by selling my car; what a weirdo. Elvis wouldn’t do that. Olivier helped me discover and appreciate the 2V Boxer engine. Since then I kind of started collecting these bikes and I got more and more attracted and literally fascinated by guys converting BMW bikes into bobbers, cafe racers and all that. I couldn’t hold it back any longer and I decided to install a small workshop at home and the first work I did was the full restoration of a R75/5 from 1972, which is the year I was born; burning love and all. It went really well and I sort of surprised myself. Then one day I saw this really hot cafe racer on a blog and I showed it to my mate Röntsch who immediately asked me if I could build something as hot as that. He had some doubt in his voice, so I took it as a challenge (!) and found an old R80 RT with roughly 70’000 km on for just about 2,500 bucks. It turned out to be an old police bike and I found a lot of unusual wires when disassembling the old sheriffs horse. Building the R80 "Re-Made" was real fun and it all really clicked as if the bike enjoying it too. It lost quite a few kilos during the diet and now it is so easy to drive. One of the great advantages of the boxer engine is the very low balance point. With all the body parts removed the centre of gravity moves even further down and it gained a lot in agility. With new Wilbers
on it feels great to ride…, except for on the ears; man the cow is loud.
No apologies from us. Another BMW on The Bike Shed, but it has earned its place in every respect. Thanks to Alan for sharing and maybe we'll hear more about your future adventures some time?
As for all these R-series customs, I feel we need to comment. People describe these bikes us ugly heavy pigs, but we beg to differ. Coming from riding and owning a lot of high powered and/or lightweight bikes (mostly LC8-engined KTMs and Ducatis) I can tell all you doubting-Thomases that throwing your leg over a stripped down BMW custom is a pleasure.
The low-down, torquey power delivery means two-up riding feels much like solo riding, and the neutral handling is easy to get used to - and if you crack open the throttle in earnest, these bikes do shift. Gearboxes click neatly into gear, clutches work as they should, and if you have the later model Brembo set-up the brakes work fine too.
After a day or two getting used to the feel of the whole package they become a properly easy ride, and they really are surprisingly light - in fact after owning a KZ1000 Cafe Racer my R100 seemed like a featherweight. And best of all, those cylinder heads will keep your toes warm and dry in winter.
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