Funktional: Tim Harney’s no-frills BMW R75/6

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.
Many custom motorcycle builders didn’t start out as such. Tim Harney’s one of them: in his past life, he worked as an industrial designer for architecture, furniture and lighting design firms.

Tim’s since focussed his keen sense of aesthetics onto customizing bikes. This 1976 BMW R75/6 is his latest work—and we’re smitten with its functional yet charming vibe.

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.
“The client was really straightforward: ‘I want a bike that I’ll never have to worry about, or do anything to’,” says Tim. “That spells out airhead to me.”

A suitable R75 donor was picked out, and wheeled into Tim’s Brooklyn, New York workshop.

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.
The carbs and airbox were quickly tossed in favor of a set of Mikuni VM32s with cone filters. Tim also fabricated a box to fill the now open space; it houses a new, smaller battery and a custom-wired fuse box.

He also upgraded the electrics with an electronic ignition and an updated diode board. The exhaust is a bespoke, two-into-one affair—made with 304 stainless steel, and terminating in an Arrow muffler.

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.
To improve the BMW’s ride feel, a set of Suzuki DR650 forks were fitted and shortened by five inches. The rear shocks are a pair of re-valved R75/5 items.

The subframe is a custom-made, chromoly unit—shorter and slimmer than stock. It bolts to the main frame via custom mounting tabs that Tim added. On top is a one-off seat, upholstered in cow hide in-house.

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.
When it came to the fuel tank, Tim had his work cut out for him. “Someone was nice enough to take a hammer to the tank prior to me finding it,” he explains. “I guess not everyone likes airheads like I like ’em.” The tank was sectioned, shortened, boxed and trimmed to get it into shape.

At each end, hand-rolled aluminum fenders cap off the bodywork. The rear holds a tiny tail light, while a Harley-Davidson Sportster headlight is been mounted up front—complete with its signature cowl. Just behind it are a set of low-rise bars and Renthal grips.

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.
Other bits and pieces include a quarter-turn Domino throttle, and a Brembo master brake cylinder with a braided hose (the R75’s down to one disc in front now). The tires are dual-purpose numbers from Kenda.

It’s already a great mix of well-considered mods, but it’s the color palette that really drives the point home. The frame and wheels are finished in a pale grey to match the engine, while the new subframe’s been done in black. And that warm grey on the tank is just sublime.

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.
We reckon Tim’s R75/6 hits the spot right between form and funktion. The perfect bike for Brooklyn’s busy streets.

Tim Harney Motorcycles | Instagram | Photography by Adam Lerner

Tim Harney's custom BMW R75/6 is an essay in simplicity—as befits a former industrial designer.