Most bike builders try to make their machines as squeaky clean as possible. If a build looks ‘factory fresh,’ it’s a job well done.
But Alex Ahrer and Herwig Prammer beg to differ. They buried the tank of this replica boardtracker on a sheep farm for three months, to get a thoroughly rusted effect. And then they painted the entire engine in retina-searing Sulfur Yellow—the color beloved of artists from Van Gogh to Mondrian. (And known to paint shops as RAL 1016.)
These are not the actions of logical people, so we had to investigate further. It turns out that Ahrer and Prammer are two friends from Upper Austria, and they run a garage called Das Traumwerk (‘The Dream Factory’). They’re helped by the town blacksmith, a multitude of local petrolheads, and a retired Austrian 600cc champion. And they like old bikes that wear their patina with pride.
This one’s called ‘The Crunch’ and it started life as a 1977 BMW R80/7. “It’s dedicated to the legendary board-track racers from the early twentieth century,” says Herwig. “Riders who risked their necks at speeds of up to 120 mph—without brakes.”
It’s an odd concept, turning a 1970s airhead into a boardtracker. But Austrians do have a somewhat subversive sense of humor—which they call Schmäh—and we’re prepared to give top marks for originality.
There are some neat period touches: the seat is an accurate replica of the Mesinger Racer, used on many American bikes between the wars. The curve of the bars is authentic, and so are the grips and the British-style levers.
Other parts were raided from the dusty cellar of an agricultural machinery warehouse, including Bakelite switchgear. The rear light is from a vintage Steyr Tractor and the front fender is from a wrecked Harley Sportster.
Most impressively, The Crunch is fully road-legal. And that’s no mean feat—Austria’s laws are similar to Germany’s famously strict TÜV inspections.
I’m sure eyebrows were raised when The Crunch rumbled into the garage to claim its Typenschein. “The bike does attract attention,” says Herwig, “but that’s often because of the sound—which recalls bikes from Milwaukee, rather than an old BMW.”
Das Traumwerk’s other builds are a little more conventional. Find them here.