Our first BMW R-series Top 5 received mixed reactions. Some of you loved our selection, while others wondered why their favorites didn’t make the list. The truth is, narrowing down a selection of one’s favorite customs of a particular marque to just five is pretty challenging. Especially when you’re dealing with the much loved, and widely used, R-series. Add personal taste to the mix, and you’re bound to ruffle a few feathers.
Nevertheless, we felt that BMW’s venerable R-series deserved another look. So we scoured the archives and put together a fresh list—based on your recommendations. Let us know how this one stacks up against the original.
Bill Costello’s R100RT Bill Costello first made his mark on the world of classic motorcycles when he painstakingly restored his father’s 1958 BMW R50 a few years ago. This elegant, yet functional, R100RT is his second build. This time round Bill wanted to build a custom bike, rather than a factory restoration, and was after something he could use as a reliable daily runner. The RT rolls on custom spoked wheels from Woody’s Wheel Works, and upgraded suspension. There’s a new triple tree from Toaster Tan, Tarozzi clip-ons, and rearsets from Boxer Metal—who helped out on the build. The classic café racer seat hides a tiny lithium-ion battery and a full BMW tool kit. Finished in a timeless black and white paint scheme, it’s the perfect example of a ‘real world’ café racer. [More about this bike]
Casey Wilkinson’s R75/6 This much-loved café racer, one of the stars of the 2014 Bike EXIF calendar, belongs to Casey Wilkinson of design studio Wilkinson Brothers, founded with brother Corey. The brothers are nuts about motorcycles—their workspace, an old carriage house, has a number of bikes parked in it at any given time. Casey found this ’76 R75/5 at the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days and bought it with 100,000 miles on the clock. He then mocked up a new swingarm, subframe and ‘bum box,’ using quarter-inch steel round bar and insulation foam board. This was all sent to Cliff Meyer of Meyerbuilt Metalworks to bring to life. There’s also a mono-shock conversion, using a Suzuki GSX-R750 shock. Creativity abounds—the foot pegs are modified BMX freestyle pegs and the headlight guard is an aftermarket MG part. The top triple clamp was CNC’d, again by Toaster Tan. It’s adorned with a ‘Good Spark Garage’ logo—the name of the Wilkinson brothers’ moto-culture blog. [More about this bike | Wilkinson Brothers]
Lucky Cat Garage ‘Sprintbeemer’ There’s something fantastic about a motorcycle that’s been built for a single purpose. In this case, that purpose was to win the Starr Wars sprint race at the Glemseck 101 festival in Germany. ‘Sprintbeemer’ was built by ‘Sonic Séb’ Lorentz of Lucky Cat Garage, from a mixed bag of parts—including a vintage M&H Racemaster drag tyre and an Airtech dustbin fairing. At its heart is a R100RS motor with some tasty performance upgrades, breathing through Dell’Orto PHM 40 carbs, linked to a R60/6 transmission and housed in a modified R50/2 chassis. Adjustable billet aluminum struts are hidden in the rear shocks, and the shortened front suspension is from a R75/5. Unfortunately Séb broke his leg in a BMX accident before the event, so Sylvain Berneron (aka Holographic Hammer) took his place in the hot seat, piloting ‘Sprintbeemer’ to victory. [More about this bike | Lucky Cat Garage]
El Solitario R75/5 ‘Baula’ When it comes to style, El Solitario are a law unto themselves. Their builds usually fall somewhere between audacious and outrageous—bucking, or totally ignoring, current trends. ‘Baula’ is based on a ’69 BMW R75/5, and according to El Solitario’s David Borras, was inspired by the 1939 TT-winning BMW Rennsport and the Art Deco Henderson. It sports a massive Hoske long-range tank, fishtail pipes from a Velocette Thruxton and vintage Buco panniers. All of this is tied together with a number of bespoke parts, including the dual-headlight fairing. The engine, suspension and electrics were all overhauled as well. Not surprisingly, ‘Baula’ drew a crowd when El Solitario debuted it at the 2013 Wheels & Waves show in Biarritz. [More about this bike | El Solitario]
Ritmo Sereno R100RS ‘RSR’ A part of me regrets not including this R100RS in the original BMW R-series ‘Top 5.’ It’s the work of Japanese resto-mod specialists Ritmo Sereno, who set out to reduce the R100’s weight from BMW’s claimed 242kg to just 190kg. The engine’s been ported and polished, and breathes out through a 2-into-1 stainless steel exhaust system. The standard RS fairing has been trimmed for a sleeker profile. In fact, just about every part’s been modified or lightened in some way. Resplendent in a livery inspired by the BMW 3.5CSL Group 5 race cars of the ’70s, it would be just as at home on a race track as it would in a museum. [More about this bike | Ritmo Sereno]
Last week’s Top 5 covered the Yamaha XS650.