BMW Motorrad Spezial

Francesco Pagnin’s BMW R45 cafe racer

There’s something about the compact, muscular stance of 70s-vintage BMWs that makes them prime candidates for customization. This cafe racer comes from leading glass artist Francesco Pagnin of Treviso in Italy, who calls his motorcycle workshop ‘Franz Garage’. It’s based on a BMW R45, the 473cc boxer-engined middleweight built throughout the late 70s and early 80s.

After a complete mechanical and electrical overhaul, Francesco built a seat and tail unit and modified the rear frame to suit, using 8mm tubing. There are neat touches throughout, with minimal instrumentation and a new headlight assembly and rearsets. The tank is from an R100, the bars are adjustable Tommaselli items and the mirrors are from Rizoma.

Completing the radical transformation of this unassuming BMW R45 is a delicious white, black and gold paintjob from Patron Racing, and stubby custom mufflers built by Francesco himself. Molto bella. [Thanks to Michiel of BMW Cafe.]


  • niels.d

    Very nice work, those are some of the best looking mags made for sure. Did these smaller BMWs ever make it to North America?

  • elven

    Very nice bike and it has the right kind of tyres fitted. Only tiny details to change for me :-)
    Keep the stripped down bikes coming !

  • Yep! Great work, really, realy nice Beemer!

  • tq

    What a tasteful cafe custom! I’d take this over any new Beemer today.

  • AC

    That is beautiful…
    I’m (slowly) building an ’82 R65 ….same ideal.

  • sexy wheels!

  • Wow, that is nice. Very “Motorsport” with the forty-five outline text.

  • Mule

    Looks cool! I looked at the website and the rider looks pretty cramped up though. Move the seat back about 3″ and he could relax a bit while riding it. Like to see more detail shots of the top shock mounting area which looks interesting!

  • mudplug

    Brimful of Asha on the…


  • Very nice indeed. Makes me question the color I have picked out for paint for this winter’s rebuild of my R80

  • Matimontes

    nice bike but its a 1983 r100

    • The tank is from an R100 — the bike itself is an R45.

    • dead_elvis

      The tank, yes. You didn’t read the article, obviously.

  • Michel77

    Very nice work indeed!
    You should run another feature on Michiel’s own R80!

  • d2237

    Something about these old BMW’s that’s growing on me. I like this one as well.

  • stewgnu

    Sorted. Take one damn awful-lookin bike and make it beautiful. That’s some lovely photography too. Cheers Exif!

  • KIK


  • bryguy9

    @Chris Hunter, I am on to you now. I smell your scheme. You keep posting killer bikes, with brakes AND mufflers, silencing the complaints with a barrage of stunning machinery! LOL!

    This has to be one of the coolest BMW R’s I have seen, it’s just screaming, “please come and burn my tires off!”

  • Your Daddy

    beautiful. love the stance and that big tank.

    also, will keep your tootsies warm in winter

  • BoxerFanatic

    I love these old boxers.

    I love the new ones, too… I wish the R1200R DOHC was anywhere as lithe as this little thing, or BMW would build the lo-rider concept.

    Not sure if I would more enjoy a classic like this one, and Michiel’s R80, and others on this site…

    Or a carefully and deliberately stripped down 1200 hex-head with a paralever Evo, and dare I say it… a Duolever front end…

    If I had money, skill, and talent, I’d build both. :D

    • Both… the hexhead for your brain, the airhead for your heart. Or one oilhead to split the difference. ;-)

  • meh, dont really like it. low quality photos? just me?. i think its the pipes because everything in isolation is cool, yep its the pipes and the baby poo color highlights. would be fun as hell to ride im sure great workmanship and the more i look the more i like, sans pipes and poo color.

    • GeoKan

      I don’t like the pipes either. They are way too short and straight, and if the silencer was a cone…sure better for my taste.Imagine also gold anodized front forks (like the new NORTON commando) and brembo calipers.The cost though will not be the same…

  • Dave

    youre face is poo colour.

    haha jk, nah I think its really tastefully done. My jaw literally dropped when I saw these fotos.

    • Dave


  • Mingh

    apart from the silencers i wouldn’t change a thing to it. Or maybe put an 100RS engine in to make it bite as hard as it barks now.

  • HEY! Nobody answered the first poster’s question: Did this make it to the states?! :D I never really liked BMWs that much because they just always seemed so huge. a 450cc-ish bike would be sweeeeet.

    • elven

      Don’t know if it ever went to USA, but I believe the 450 is essentially a 650 with reduced capacity, all the cycle parts and basic motor are the same. Anyone know more?

      • FranzGarage


    • I don’t believe it was sold in the USA. We got the R65 model, apparently identical in all specifications except for the 649cc, 45hp motor.

      You got me thinking about BMWs being “huge”, so I pulled up some specs… for the most part, comparable models seem similar to other UK/European models and later on to Japanese models. Maybe you’re just seeing a lot of the full-dress LT (touring) models?

      Norton Dominator Model 7 (1948) / 88 (1953)
      engine 497cc (30hp) / 596cc )31hp)
      wheelbase 55.5″ (1410mm)
      seat height 31″ (787mm)
      weight 395lb (179kg) / 408lb (185kg)

      BMW R45 / R65 (1978)
      engine 473.4cc (35hp) / 649cc (45hp)
      wheelbase 54.72″ (1390mm)
      seat height 30.3″ (770mm) / 31.9″ (810mm)
      weight 421lb (191kg)

      BMW R60 (1956)
      engine 594cc (28hp)
      wheelbase 55.7″ (1415mm)
      seat height 28.5″
      weight 404lb (183kg)

      Modern stuff:

      Yamaha R1 (2005)
      engine 998cc (180hp @ 12,500rpm)
      wheelbase 54.9″ (1394mm)
      seat height 32.8″ (833mm)
      weight 379.2lb (172kg)

      1998 BMW R1100S
      engine 1085cc (98hp @ 7,500rpm)
      wheelbase 58.18″ (1478mm)
      seat height 31.49″ (800mm)
      weight 458lb (208kg)

  • Gerrard

    Looks like a nice bike, but these are some poor photos when compared to Bike Exif’s usual standard. I’ve come away feeling like I haven’t really seen what this bike looks like.

  • Riotbmx

    Nice bike! But poor photography.. But at least the bike made up for it

  • Mule

    You can’t just build a bitchin’ bike anymore, you have to be a pro level photographer as well. Give the guy a break!

    • adrenalnjunky

      well, it is a webblog that focuses on Photography of Motorcycles – that’s what the “exif” in Bikeexif is referring to.

  • Greevous

    Bad ass

  • Micah

    Holy cow- the rear brake must be so overwhelmingly powerful that he had to “de-tune” it

  • Harry Farquhar

    WTF is “meh” anyway?

  • Adam

    This is a very cool BMW custom. We are building 2 custom BMW’s at the moment check out our blog for some images of them.

  • Anonymous

    Nice style, but… maybe it’s the angle of the pics, but it looks to me like the mufflers stick out and would limit the lean angle of the bike…

  • The best looking R45 I’ve ever seen (well, including R65s :) ).
    I’m not really a fan of those cafe-racer type of tails/seats, I’d go for something more comfy with
    passenger seat. Styling if beautiful though.