Earlier this week, we asked the builders in the Bike EXIF panel if there were any motorcycles that they wouldn’t dare customize. Answers were variations of ‘yes,’ with one panelist in particular opining that “rare vintage survivors should be left as such.”
Many petrol-heads share that view, and most would probably consider a 1958 BMW R50 one such motorcycle. Tony Prust confesses to “loving the challenges of older, more rare motorcycles” though. So, when owner Alex Pearsall asked him if he’d be willing to customize his R50, Tony was all ears.
The R50 rolled into the Analog Motorcycles shop in a pretty sad state—Alex had ridden it in the past, but it had stood for a number of years. His requests were simple: he wanted a reliable runner with aggressive tires, blue paint, and a brown seat and grips. “I took some time over the following days to absorb those ideas,” says Tony, “but I wanted to make sure the final product would be more ‘custom’ than just paint and seat color.”
Then inspiration hit. “I have been working closely with a shop called Free Form Design,” explains Tony. “I’ve used them for a couple of one-off parts, including a Thruxton Tail Tidy that will be sold by British Customs. I pitched Alex the idea of giving the old Beemer some ‘modern flair’ with bespoke, CNC billet items.”
Once Tony had designed the parts, Free Form Design rendered them digitally and CNC cut them from 6061 aluminum. The final list included a new top triple tree, headlight ears, taillight, fender struts, seat bracket assembly and even a pair of stunning tank emblems.
Since all the CNC bits came out with a brushed finish, Tony cleaned up the other aluminum parts on the bike and gave them the same feel. Subtle touches abound: the wheels, for example, are a pair of 18” aluminum rims, laced with stainless steel spokes via black oxide treated nipples. They’re wrapped in Shinko 705 tires: “Alex is intent on riding it often in the streets of downtown Chicago, where those tires will prove useful with all the salt-destroyed roads and alleys after a rough winter.”
There’s also a custom battery box and a gorgeous solo perch—fabricated by Analog and upholstered by Rod’s Designs. A pair of Biltwell grips have been wrapped in the same material as the seat, fitted to a set of modified handlebars. Alex got the blue paint job he requested—beautifully executed by Kiel of Crown Auto Body, with pinstriping and silver leaf detailing by Brando.
The engine itself was farmed out to Dan Neiner at Cycle Works for a full rebuild. “We discovered the engine had been messed with by a previous owner and some very screwy stuff was done inside,” says Tony. Everything’s now back to factory spec, and the carbs have been overhauled and tuned too. The exhaust headers have been modified with internal baffles, ceramic coated and hooked up to a pair of EMGO mufflers.
“The only stone left unturned was the ratty speedo. We intend to have it rebuilt over the winter as all the speedo rebuilders I contacted are 3-6 months out, and Alex wants to ride.”
At least purists can rest easy in the knowledge that something on this stunning motorcycle was left untouched.
Frame completely de-tabbed
Aluminum rims, stainless spokes with black oxide treated nipples (from Buchanan’s)
Shinko 705 Tires (4.10 18” front and rear)
Custom made CNC 6061 aluminum top triple, headlight ears, taillight, fender struts, tank emblems and seat bracket assembly
All billet items designed by Analog Motorcycles and Free Form Design
Custom made battery tray and cover
Custom modified headers with internal baffles (ceramic coated by Hy Tec Powder Coating)
Engine rebuilt by Dan Neiner of Cycle Works
Tank sealed with Caswell tank epoxy
Paint by Kiel of Crown Auto Body, pinstripes and silver leaf by Brando
Seat pan by Analog Motorcycles, upholstery by Rod’s Designs
Powder coating by Analog Motorcycles and J & J Powder coating
All new electrical wiring and lighting
Carbs rebuilt and tuned for new exhaust
Biltwell grips wrapped in matching seat material
All new bearings, seals, and brake pads