BMW R45: ‘The Gonzo’

BMW R45
One of the more original builders working today is David Borras, a Spanish vintage motorcycle racer who runs El Solitario (“the loner”) MC. He’s got an idiosyncratic style, and his disregard for contemporary fashions has won him a lot of attention. This is Borras’ latest bike: it’s unlikely to be as controversial as his Triumph T120, but it’s just as eye-catching. Called ‘The Gonzo’, it’s a heavily customized 1976 R45 that Borras describes as “terribly underpowered, but indestructible”.

BMW R45
It was a fast build: “We were not looking for a posh finish, or complicated technical solutions.” The first premise was to remove anything unnecessary for safe on- and off-roading. The second was to do everything in-house, keeping time and expenses low.

BMW R45
Borras started by rebuilding the cylinder heads, transmission, carbs, ignition, forks and brakes. He completely rewired the bike and fitted new bearings, super-rare Redwing shocks, and steel brake lines. Up front, an Akront 21” wheel is fitted with Michelin rubber. The straight pipes have internal baffles to keep noise under control, and the engine breathes in through velocity stacks from the Spanish classic BMW specialist Max Boxer.

BMW R45
The tank is a stock unit, but it’s been channeled two inches for a slimmer contour, and re-welded with unpainted stainless steel for a raw, brushed look. The subframe has also been narrowed, and shortened too.

BMW R45
The seat is a vintage Bates Desert Sled and the lights are PIAA dual driving lights, sitting in front of Montesa ’bars. The original battery has been swapped out for a lightweight lithium unit.

And the ‘Gonzo’ name? Borras declares himself “a profound admirer of Hunter S. Thompson”, but that’s not where the name comes from. “It’s because the bike resembles the great Gonzo from The Muppets,” says Borras.

A German motorcycle customized by a Spanish builder and named after an American television character? I like it. Head over to the ESMC website for build pictures, custom show reports, videos and more.

BMW R45