We love seeing custom builders’ personal rides. Most of these guys spend their days wrestling with the restrictions of commissioned work, so it’s intriguing to see their choices and decision-making when the brief is wide open.
This BMW R75/5 belongs to Nico Mueller of Hookie Co. in Germany. It’s a mix of clever upgrades, discreet engineering and delicious patina—but not too fancy to be ridden through the snow of a Dresden winter, with average temperatures hovering around zero (32 °F).
An old boxer seems like an obvious starting point, given the model’s current popularity, but Nico tells us that it wasn’t his first choice. “I rode a ’77 Harley-Davidson shovelhead before,” he says. “Perfect sound and perfect stance, but not the perfect bike for me.”
“The decision to switch from a Harley to BMW was really a big thing for me. I’m a huge fan of American rusty gold, and love the chopper and bobber scene. But the fact that I was wrenching more on the Shovel than riding it was really annoying.”
“Then I found my BMW R75/5. She’d stood for nearly ten years in a joiner’s workshop, and was covered with sawdust. But the mileage was low and original, the owner was the first one, and she ran really strong—a perfect donor bike for a new project.”
“My intention was to build up a BMW flat tracker with patina, which runs perfectly and looks authentic. Yes I know, a 1973 BMW as a flat tracker isn’t a perfect match, but why not?”
Step one was massaging the BMW’s stance. The front forks were lowered and rebuilt with progressive springs, and a set of shorter shocks went onto the back. The subframe was then cut-and-looped at an angle, to make space for a compact rear fender.
Nico’s personal taste shines through in his choice of seat: “The combination of a passenger pad with a solo seat is my all-time favorite,” he says. This one came from Easyriders Japan, and finishes off the rear end nicely.
Up front is an old fuel tank from a Zündapp. It’s been modified to fit, but—in keeping with Nico’s philosophy of not polishing the bike too much—all its dents have been left in place. There’s a new coat of paint though; a chic gloss black finish, with white striping.
Flat track bars—with Renthal grips, original BMW levers and Hella switches—round out the cockpit. The number boards are a nice touch too, cut from 2mm aluminum.
When it came to the mechanical side of the build, Nick’s choice of a boxer for reliability was rewarded. “The engine is completely like I got it—it runs perfectly,” he says. “We rebuilt the Bing carbs, but kept their patina, and combined them with air filters from K&N to get a little performance upgrade.”
The mufflers are custom-made, out of stainless steel. They’ve been designed as slip-ons, and made to look like the bike doesn’t have mufflers—even though they do have baffles inside.
Under the hood is a completely new wiring loom. Nico’s also taken it upon himself to kick the old airhead into life each time; he’s removed the starter motor. That’s given him extra space to hide away electrical components, and the ability to run a four-cell Antigravity Lithium-ion battery. (R-series BMWs usually need a twelve-cell battery to swing over.)
Other electrical bits include tiny LED turn signals up front, and taillight/turn signal combo lights at the back. There’s nowhere to put a key though. “We installed just a simple switch with RUN and OFF settings,” explains Nico, “and it’s perfect for me, because I don’t like too many keys on my key ring.”
Even the tires are a unusually smart choice: Nico opted for an obscure set from Duro that match the tread pattern of the classic Pirelli MT-53.
We’ve been fans of Hookie Co.’s work for a while. Like all of their builds, this R75/5 is charming and unpretentious, and something we could easily ride every day. Just maybe not in the snow…