When I first saw this BMW, I struggled to put a date to it. Was it an older bike freshened up, or a relatively new bike that had taken a trip back in time? It turned out to be an R100T resto-mod, customized to make it look older than its 1979 model year. It’s owned by Oakland-based Jean-David Gerber: “My goal was to have it overhauled in such a way that it would look more like a bike from the 1960s—a ‘naked’ bike, with fork gaiters and spoked wheels and so on. As you know, BMW used to have a very conservative approach to the design of their ‘airheads’: most parts are interchangeable throughout the 25 years of their production, from 1970 to 1995. Greg Hutchinson, one of the airhead experts of the San Francisco Bay Area, kindly agreed to teach me the basics of mechanics.”
Jean-David replaced the wheels, tank, turn signals, valve covers and handlebars with parts from older BMW models. The seat is a modified police seat from a R90/6. The objective was to have a later-model 1000 cc airhead that “looks old, but still fresh.” The ‘Sienna Ivory’ color comes from a modern Vespa GTV250 and none of the metal parts were polished (to retain the patina) but some were bead-blasted. The engine was overhauled and kept stock—except for fitting dual plugs, electronic ignition and a deeper oil pan—so as not to compromise reliability. The result is understated and low-key, but to my eyes, creamily delicious. See the full restoration, beautifully photographed, on Jean-David’s Airhead Reborn blog.
Nikon D300 | 1/2000s | f/2.8 | ISO 320 | Focal length 120mm