BMW Airhead by Austin Paintworks

BMW airhead R60 by Austin Paintworks
Once in a blue moon, a bike comes along from a workshop I’ve never heard of, and blows my socks off. This is one such bike: a Rennsport-inspired BMW airhead from Bill Twitchel and Matt Musial of Austin Paintworks, Texas.

AP is primarily a paint and motorcycle restoration shop, but I have a feeling their clientele is about to change. Bill and Matt occasionally take on special projects, and that’s how this 1977 R60 became a tribute to the glorious Rennsport RS54 racers of the mid-50s. BMW built very few of these ‘factory racers,’ and today they fetch over $140,000 at auction.

BMW airhead R60 by Austin Paintworks
Matt Musial takes up the story: “Our customer Doug Hector bought the R60 frame, engine, tank and forks from a collector several years ago. We restored a 1958 Cezeta scooter for Doug last year and he was pleased with the results, so he asked us to take the R60 parts and build a Rennsport-like rider.

BMW airhead R60 by Austin Paintworks
Although the airhead engine and frame are from the 70s, Bill and Matt have captured the spirit of the original factory race machine. It helped that they had only two mandates: make the BMW both track and street legal—hence the headlight behind the front number plate—and keep the project within budget.

With the help of mechanic David Martinez, the bike was completed after 180 hours of work. And that work was considerable, including modifying the frame to receive Earles-type leading link forks and a stiffer, racing-style rear end.

BMW airhead R60 by Austin Paintworks
The tank is from metalworking genius Evan Wilcox. Once in Texas, it was brushed and painted blue-grey with old school lacquer, and pinstriped by hand in black. It’s finished with hand-formed aluminum badges, again painted with a brush. The wheels and hubs are just as immaculate, sanded and painted to a better-than-new finish.

BMW airhead R60 by Austin Paintworks
The engine has been upgraded with Mikuni carbs and velocity stacks—rarely seen on a vintage airhead—and the airbox has been removed to make space for a modern battery, refinished to match the classic vibe.

Fashions come and go in the motorcycling world, but this is the kind of build that will never lose its appeal. Keep an eye out for the Austin Paintworks name—I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about Bill and Matt’s work in the years to come.

Images © 2014 Jake Herrle. Contact Austin Paintworks via their website or Facebook page.
BMW airhead R60 by Austin Paintworks