Most custom motorcycles live relatively sedate lives, secured in warm garages and released at weekends. But not this one: it’s been built by the Wrenchmonkees to handle the rough roads of the Maghreb. “It started with a request from a Frenchman living in Mauritania,” says Wrenchmonkee Andreas. “Thierry wanted a simple, reliable, easy-to-maintain bike … there are very few motorcycle workshops in West Africa.” The solution was an old two-valve BMW: they’re robust and reliable, and you can fix most problems yourself if you have simple mechanical skills.
“We found a R100RT here in Denmark. It needed a complete restoration anyway, so it was an obvious choice for the project.” Fortunately, Thierry’s brief for the bike was relatively open: it just had to be a two-seater, fairly light, and suitable for occasional off-roading. “And, of course, built in our style!” Andreas adds.
The burgundy red fairing was removed and the big R100RT was taken apart. The rear subframe was removed, and a new one welded on. The stock alloy wheels were replaced with wire wheels, 18” both front and back. The front fork was also rebuilt, and extra long Bitubo shocks were installed to give extra clearance for African dirt roads and sand dunes. The engine and carburetors were overhauled, and a K&N air filter and larger oil cooler were fitted.
The R100RT was then treated to a complete rewire and fitted with a heavy duty Odyssey battery, plus new lights front and back. The standard R100 tank was replaced with one from an older BMW /6 model, “to give the bike a slimmer, more old school look.”
New Tarozzi rearsets were mounted, further back in the frame than stock. “This required a few custom made linkages,” says Andreas, “for the brake and gear shift.” All perishable parts were replaced, including hoses, bearings and seals.
The big BMW, fresh from its diet and makeover, is now ready for the worst that West African roads can throw at it. Who said custom motorcycles can’t be practical?