BMW Motorrad Spezial

BMW R60/5 cafe racer

BMW R60/5 cafe racer by Josh Withers
Most images that we receive fall into one of two categories: average photographs of a very interesting motorcycle, or beautiful photographs of a fairly common motorcycle. So when you happen across a photographer who is also a vintage bike nut, it’s a marriage made in heaven. This exquisite customized R60/5 is owned by commercial photographer Josh Withers, and he’s shown off the bike to perfection. It helps to live near a Californian beach, I guess, but this machine would look equally gorgeous in the grungiest Atlantic City alleyway. The Berlin-built R60/5 was in the middle of BMW’s ‘slash 5’ range—the others being the R50/5 and the R75/5—and had a 600cc air-cooled motor in the traditional boxer configuration. Josh’s machine is a 1973 ‘toaster‘-tank model from the last year of production, and he paid just $500 for it. As with many bargain bikes, the problems soon started to mount up, and Josh ended up doing a bare-frame restoration. But the result was worth it, don’t you think?

BMW R60/5 cafe racer by Josh Withers
BMW R60/5 cafe racer by Josh Withers
BMW R60/5 cafe racer by Josh Withers

  • Jerry Brown

    Utterly gorgeous.

  • jon

    What’s the chrome thing around the light for?

  • Mattro

    i would mount that with only the worst of intentions — again and again until somebody locked me up or killed me.

  • Absolutely flawless.

  • Wow, what a beauty!

  • E-rock

    Where’d you get a blank license plate from? That’s rad!

  • Holy wow, that thing is beautiful!

  • This bike is unbelievably stunning. I love every simple detail on it.

  • Great bike, looks familier. Isn’t that Franzen’s bike?

  • Emmet


  • MitchB

    An absolutely gorgeous bike ruined by that Corbin seat. For me it destroys the essence of a “period” build…

  • ChrisD

    @ MitchB:

    Then the LED tail light and indicators must really throw you for a loop. I think those are the most glaringly out of date parts. Otherwise it is quite stunning.

  • Dirk

    I can’t stop looking at this bike, it is awesome. It reminds me of a 50’s cadillac only shown through a bike.

  • James

    Blank license plates are available here:

  • ColinR

    As the owner from new of a ’72 model, I prefer black or white; the larger tank and NO sidecovers. Don’t mind the bars or instument panel. Where’s the beach?

  • greg ess

    you know, it may be pretty, but from both a functional standpoint and the perspective of someone who thinks these bikes are increasingly valuable collectables, this thing is an abomination.

    disclsosure – i own one – an r75/5 – and it wouldn’t win at pebble beach, either. ;-)

    basic physics says the use of chrome plated valve covers on these engines is not smart – the chrome is less able to shed heat than the stock alloy, and the stock alloy is less able to shed heat than the black painted ones that replaced the ‘frying pan’ covers. the plating is also more likely to result in warpage or other poor gasket sealing.

    the large bing carbs are the wrong ones for a 600 – the large venturies are likly to result in genuinely terrible low and midrange RPM running and decreased torque output. and decreased torque from a R60 is nowhere on the list of things one would want. ;-)

    the K&Ns and not desirable either – they don’t filter worth a bleep — its a beach! sand anyone? — and also cut low end torque at the expense of high end which this motor never had – at least not without extensive cam, valve and porting work.

    the engine top and front covers and front ribbed case section are also the wrong ones for this vintage – they are 80s/90s vinatge parts grafted on to a 70s vintage ride.

    what went for the valve covers goes double for the front cover – the chrome will cause less efficient heat transfer – poor cooling – and you have very heat sensitive components – alternator and diode board — underneath.

    the fork sliders are also stylish-but-stupid. the bike originally had gators to protect the tubes, at very least one needs stanchon caps – with seal wiping protectors – and some abbreviated tube protectors to keep the fork seals from dying a very premature and preventable death.

    net/net – great as an living room artwork, less great as a functional motorcycle. my toaster tank might not be stock, but everything i’ve done to it was designed to make it work better and last longer. the 200K miles that bike has done speaks volumes.

  • Oops Magoo

    Obviously, Greg Ess has his stuff together. ;) Why would anyone appreciate anything that clearly took much thought and hard work when it can be broken down as methodically that? And to think, Greg’s never even ridden this bike or seen it in real life, yet he knows so much of what is wrong with it. Bravo! ;) At least we know what it looks like, broken down at the beach, while Josh bangs Mrs. Ess in the surf, 200,000 miles away from Greg and his everlasting bike.

  • Touché, I have to say. And not the first time Mr S has commented on BMW airheads.

  • Mattro

    Re: the corbin — i actually like the looks of it a lot. maybe a stretch on the bimmer, but i think it’d finish out a cx500 project i’m into nicely. can’t find one just like it on the corbin site, though… anyone know a source for that model?


  • Thanks for the compliments guys.
    The Franzen bike was the inspiration for this.

    @ Mitch B – I do agree that the Corbin seat looks ALOT worse with the corbin logo on it. I wish they could have left it off… because it is much more comfortable then most cafe seat kits out there. Believe me, i did the research.

    @ Gregg Ess – You sound like a typical purist BMW nut who can’t think outside the box. Do you know what a cafe bike is? Why are you on this blog if you don’t like anything custom?
    The bike was destined for the scrap yard when i got my hands on it. I already did a ‘period’ correct BMW restoration (a ’77 R100S) and on this one, i’d rather go custom then trash it.
    For a know it all, you made a lot of incorrect claims. The entire engine is from a 79 R100S. Though you can swap valve covers on 70’s airheads, you can’t swap timing covers. The large Bings are the correct carbs for that engine.
    The engine covers are polished and then coated with a ceramic heat dispersion clear coat. So it actually cools more effectively then the typical aluminum.
    Why put nasty black fork gaitors on a shiny bike? keep in mind, this isn’t a daily driver. i built this bike to have fun and turn heads. And it has succeeded in both. When you get you bike on a magazine cover or a KILLER blog like this, i look forward to reading the comments.
    And your wife is all sandy now… you can have her back. LOL.

  • Told!

  • YJH

    This project is very “enfantin” and posting it 5 days after Ritmo Sereno is a “faux-pas”_can’t lie to you Chris

  • You’re a little out of touch there, Yves.

  • YJH

    Weel, we shall discuss it when I take you out for lunch in Paris, dear Chris_soon I understand

  • Paul

    Between this absolutely gorgeous cafe and the Ritmo Sereno bike I am totally inspired. I just picked up an ’88 r100rs that was totally used up for very little money, and will have to do something between these two.
    Personally, I like the use of gaiters, can’t stand the little itty bitty signal lites (they are impossible to see in the sunlight), but I like the led tail lite, the corbin seat and the Suzuki racing colors. It must be great fun seeing the beemer purists getting all worked up when riding this.!

  • yamahawarrior

    this bike is amazing i am not into motorcycles but latley have found a nice interest in them and i love this bike. when i can afford one and decide i would like a motorcycle this is the style i want a cafe racer. i love every aspect of this bike and i really like how this bike is unique and will stand out

  • Joe

    What is that bar trim around the headlight and where can I get 1? I love that trim and want to add to my 1970 R60/5 I’m restoring.

  • the bar around the headlight is from a /2 headlight guard. there is a guy in vietnam who sells them new. some googling will get you what you want. start with ebay.