We often joke about motorcycles being a kind of therapy. But when Jeff Veraldi broke his back in a racing accident, it was a motorcycle that kept him sane—his BMW K100 café racer.
“Half way through the bike build, I burst my L1 vertebrae in an off-road truck race and almost paralyzed myself,” says Jeff. “Finishing the BMW became part of my physical, occupational and mental therapy.
“I wasn’t sure if I would ever ride again. Now I’m happy to say that I have, and it’s great.”
Jeff’s savior is a 1984 K100RS, built in the same year as he was born. It’s no longer a Flying Brick, but rather a simple and elegant cafe racer—stripped to the basics and fitted with sleek, monochrome bodywork.
“It’s my first motorcycle build, after watching hundreds of bike builds on television,” says Jeff. “I usually build racecars and off-road trucks, so this was a little different for me.”
Jeff chose the K100 for its Brembo brakes and master cylinders, Bosch electronics and the fine Fichtel and Sachs forks, held in place by hefty clamps. “But what I like most is the drivetrain: It’s a little car! An inline 4-banger with a car starter and alternator, and a dry clutch.” The shaft drive and a single-sided swingarm appealed too.
Wisely, Jeff has left the bulletproof 998cc engine alone. With only 18,000 miles on the clock, it’s barely broken in. He’s replaced the fuel pump though, and to be on the safe side, has also rebuilt the combined oil and water pump.
Look closely and you’ll see a custom stainless steel exhaust, much shorter than stock and routed to the right. (On occasion, it shoots blue flames out of the tailpipe on deceleration, Jeff tells us.) The fuel injectors are now the 4-hole type, for better fuel atomization and smoother throttle response.
The angular RS bodywork has gone, which has usefully reduced the 548-pound weight of the K100. The back of the frame is now a custom bent hoop, and there’s an Odyssey battery hidden in the new rear cowl.
Jeff enlisted a BMW dealership to rebuild the front forks and upgrade them with progressive springs. At the back, suspension duties are handled by a RAM custom rear coil-over from the UK.
“I dropped the ride height about 1.5 inches. I didn’t want to go crazy with the suspension, or spend a ton of money swapping front ends. The bike stops well, especially after dropping around 80 pounds—and the relatively cushy ride is exactly what I wanted, since I actually ride the bike.”
Jeff also resisted the temptation to install traditional cafe racer clip-ons: instead, he’s opted for custom bars that bolt to the bottom of the yoke and are rubber isolated. Another plus in the functionality stakes.
The rest of the machine shows the attention to detail you’d expect from a man used to building racecars. There are stainless braided brake lines with AN-3 fittings, and custom-made rearsets.
The sole instrument combines a GPS speedo and tach. And Jeff has even swapped the side stand to the right side, to better display the open wheel—and prevent oil from draining into the cylinders when parked.
When he broke his back, doctors told Jeff it’d be a year before he could ride again. But after seven months, Jeff felt well enough to wheel the BMW out of his garage and into the light.
“It was a good day when I finally got to throw a leg over it, and give the throttle a twist,” he says.
We bet. And what a fine bike to enjoy that priceless moment on.
Photos by Shane Carpenter