Ed Turner is the nom de guerre of French custom builder Karl Renoult. It’s meant to echo “head turner”—a theme that’s central to Karl’s design philosophy.
His latest creation is certainly loaded with character and attitude. It’s built on a 1979 BMW R65—but the only remaining traces of its Bavarian ancestry are the unmistakable boxer engine and BMW roundels.
Karl says his client had “no special requirements, except a radical and unique motorcycle on a BMW base.” Easy enough, but for one specific request: that a beefy rear tire be fitted. Since the R65’s swingarm is rather petite—with little clearance for wide tires—it proved to be somewhat of a challenge.
Karl’s solution? A rear monoshock conversion, with a rebuilt swingarm and transmission using parts from an ex-Police BMW R1150. The R1150 also lent the R65 its 17” wheels, now clad in Dunlop Sportmax tires. The upside down forks, dual-disc brakes and radial calipers all came from a Kawasaki Z1000.
Karl also modified and fitted a BMW nose fairing and a Honda CB400 tail piece, adding a custom saddle. Both were painted black, along with the wheels and the engine—which received a high-heat treatment before selected parts were polished to highlight its features. Clip-ons and aluminum rear-sets were added, accentuating the BMW’s stance.
A new stainless steel exhaust system was fabricated to flow up through the bike—terminating in a pair of aftermarket mufflers under the tail. The wiring was simplified down to the essentials, with an incredibly classy custom-made control panel tucked away behind the fairing. There’s now a Xenon light up front, and dual tail lights at the rear.
The BMW R65 was actually built in two phases. Karl initially completed the bike using the stock fuel tank, which he spent countless hours modifying and painting. He then met Bertrand Bussillet of Café Racer magazine, who casually quipped, “Ah… you do not make your own tanks!?”
It planted a seed in Karl’s head that he couldn’t shake. So he put the R65 back on the bench, and set about fabricating a hand-made aluminum tank. Lacking the proper tools, he turned to using multiple pairs of slip-joint pliers to bend the aluminum to his will.
It was hard work, says Karl: “Some cramps later, the term ‘hand-made’ had taken on all of its meaning!” At the same time he made up a new set of side covers, and decided to re-cover the seat in suede.
The hard work’s clearly paid off. As aggressive as it is classy, Ed Turner’s BMW R65 is one of the most unique vintage boxers I’ve ever laid eyes on—and a welcomed departure from the usual “me-too” BMW café racers we see.