There are some bikes that are all show and no go, but this BMW reflects a different kind of ‘show’. It’s positively theatrical. Secreted amongst the mechanicals are an antique glass doorknob, a brass bicycle bell and a tiny cameo portrait—see images below—added by the owner, Vancouver-based artist and actor Justin Wright. His Beemer started life in 1987 as an R80/RT, and was customized by an engineer/machinist called Kurt Lang. “Kurt decided to use the bike as a custom platform,” says Justin, “and in his words, ‘To see what I could do with metal for a motorcycle’.” Kurt spent a winter building this BMW, and after a couple of months of riding, sold the bike to Justin. I don’t know how much money changed hands, but there are a lot of man-hours here. The tank, seat and engine top case are all polished, hand-made aluminum. The headlight, brake light and footpegs are also aluminum, and were hand turned on a lathe. The straight bars, controls and the entire exhaust are hand-crafted in stainless steel. And if you’re wondering why the engine looks a little unusual for an R80, it’s because the cylinder heads were replaced with those from a much earlier model BMW—for the rounded look—with the remaining fins rounded off. Despite the elegant little accessories, this BMW is intrinsically functional: “Everything not necessary has been removed,” says Justin. “The bike is basic and detailed with purpose in mind. I think of it as a futuristic motorcycle built by someone in the 1930s.” [Images by Jason Lang.]
UPDATE 25 July 2010 We’ve added two new images at the bottom of the photo gallery below to show the seat and exhaust more clearly. There’s also a basic YouTube video that reveals what the R80 sounds like when started up.