By the late 1980s, the simple, classic styling of most BMW airheads had turned gawky. The R80 RT was especially afflicted: its enormous fairing and sticky-out mirrors pleased the long-distance riders, but few others.
Thirty years later, this makes the BMW R80 a prime candidate for the Auto Fabrica treatment. The English workshop specializes in a super-clean, minimalist look—the two-wheeled equivalent of a West Coast hot rod builder, if you like.
Shop boss Bujar Muharremi recalls the day the bike arrived. “Like many of these monoshock BMW R80s, it was fully faired-up—and a bit of a late 80s mess,” he says.
“But underneath is a relatively elegant tank and a boxer engine. We actually like the airhead engine. There are certain things that look odd, but it’s character building.”
Auto Fabrica gave the R80 a complete strip down, focusing on reducing weight. “We removed everything that we didn’t need, and worked around that.”
“The major decision was to keep the standard tank. Then we lowered the front end considerably: this gives the bike the ‘ass-up’ look and pushes the aesthetics towards a more aggressive style.”
It’s interesting to note that once that iconic tank is repositioned, the visual balance of the BMW splits into two. There’s the top part, which includes the tank and the seat, and the bottom half, which includes the wheels and engine.
“It essentially broke these two off, and revealed a void in the middle.”
The tank is subtly modified: it retains the recognizable BMW shape, but is now cleaner than a preacher on Sunday and finished in a gorgeous, deep blue color. The color sets off the tan seat, which is just long enough for a short two-up trip.
“We understood the need for the second rider but didn’t want to compromise the looks,” says Bujar. “The solution was to make removable passenger pegs, with hidden mounts. The best of both worlds.”
Instead of a traditional rear frame loop, Auto Fabrica wanted modern styling cues. So slender red acrylic fins now distribute the brake lighting, and tiny indicators are inserted into the end of the frame tubes. Underneath the light unit is a curved orange panel fabricated from aluminum.
The airbox has been modified to mimic the rear lighting, with staggered aluminum fins. It’s an unusual way to enhance the back of the blocky boxer engine and add a subtle custom touch.
The pipes are as simple as possible: hand-bent marine-grade SAE 316 stainless steel with internal custom baffles, two into two, and exiting on the same side.
“The R80 rides fantastic,” Bujar reports. “With the huge weight reduction and a rebuilt motor, it handles and goes really well. And the riding position is near enough perfect for a 6-foot person.”
It’s stunning build from a workshop at the top of its game. If you love airhead BMWs but don’t want a cookie-cutter custom, you know who to call.