Shedbuilt Beemer customs are usually pretty good, as it's a platform people can modify easily, but most are a carbon copy of one of the many pro builds around. Not so with Stephen Bentley's "Dales Tracker". He appears to have the custom affliction pretty bad and wanted a bike that would justify incessant tinkering during the build and long after. The donor R100T was sourced locally and came with a paltry 34,000 miles on the clock and a history file so thick that it was questionable whether to restore or customise. Not questionable to Stephen, a sculptor, as he wanted to make his own mark and is more than used to turning one thing into something else. A basic workshop set up, with backup from youtube and the various forums is all that was required to turn a dream into reality. The first thing you notice is the obvious lack of lardy Beemer fuel tank, instead one from a nicely patinated Yamaha RD cuts a slimmer, tracker-style silhouette. The innards have been cleaned and sealed but the paint is staying as is, with all the dings and scuffs. Stephen is frequently asked when is he going to finish the build and paint the tank, a politician's answer of asking another question about which colour to choose rebuffs most enquiries. The reduced capacity may not allow for mega distance travel but who needs that when you live in the Yorkshire Dales with those winding roads and epic scenery. Besides, it's technically more eco friendly through reduced fuel consumption. Tenuous, but it could be enough to baffle a Green Lane protesting, zip-off-trouser wearing rambler. The frame was shown some love and attention with multiple layers or flatted-down primer and hand-applied, rich black coach paint. The slim seat is an '80s skateboard with a sliver of foam and a NOS Suzuki TS125 cover, a combination of upcycling and flamboyant use of eBay's Buy It Now button. In fact the next build might be a touch easier as Stephen now has a healthy stock of parts that were purchased for the Dales Tracker and deemed unsuitable. The youthful engine and transmission didn't need major surgery, just a few oil seals and a swap of fluids. The carbs were stripped and rebuilt with new gaskets to ensure smooth running and a quick getaway from pesky ramblers should the engine need to be started hot. Once underway the reverse megas, with short baffles, sound great and give a satisfying pop 'n' bang on overrun. Forks are fresh on the inside and lavished with the black coach paint on the outside, with the twin disc brake set-up also rebuilt. Tyres are the tried and tested Heindenau Scouts which give plenty of grip when the going gets rough and muddy. 13" shocks keep the visual squat and allows for left foot down, broadside action when a farmer kindly leaves mud all over a wet bend. Stainless mudguards keep most of the crud away from Stephens handiwork, although he isn't too precious. This build sums up the essence of what motivates guys and gals from around the globe to get into their sheds, with whatever resources and finances available and just put something together. Just remember to follow Stephen's example and go ride it, on the dirt, on the roads and in the sand. Photos: Robin Zahler
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