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Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
In a world where everything seems to be bigger, stronger, faster, there’s a lot to be said for the style of a bygone age. Most of us can appreciate the charm of an old-fashioned chronometer or a fountain pen, and there’s still a place for a bike that can potter along country lanes at a leisurely speed, so you can still smell the hedgerows.

The Italian company Black Douglas has found success with this concept, putting the Sterling ‘autocycle’ into production. And now we have this most unusual BMW R45, also from Italy, but this time a one-off.

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
It comes from Extemporae/Officina Motociclignoranti, a workshop near Varese that is well known within Italy but less famous outside. “The BMW is inspired by the 1920s and 1930s,” says shop boss Alessandro Ferrara. “It looks very much like a bicycle, and has many parts fabricated in-house, as is our habit.”

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
Making a bike look fifty years older than its real age is quite a feat, but the Extemporae team of Alessandro and Alfonso “Paolo” Passarello have pulled off the trick magnificently. Only the central loop of R45 frame remains, suitably cleaned up and powder coated, and the 1980-vintage boxer engine has been completely overhauled. (It’s been finished with a high-temperature paint system designed for Brembo brakes.)

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
The 2-into-1 exhaust system is new, and finished off with a classic fishtail muffler. Fuel comes from a gorgeous handmade polished steel tank, with a genuine Brooks leather saddle above. The bars look vintage, but are actually short track race bars from the USA, circa. 1970.

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
The brake system is very modern, with steel braided hoses, an oversized reservoir, and Brembo discs up front. The spoked wheels have been built up especially for the bike, and there are substantial custom-fabricated steel fenders to accentuate the vintage vibe. The front forks are original, but shortened slightly.

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
Less obvious is the electrical system, which is completely new. Alessandro and his crew have run aeronautical silver wire through the frame tubes and bars, with the most unusual battery setup we’ve ever seen.

“It runs off a lithium battery, housed inside a backpack you wear when you’re riding,” says Alessandro. “This was the customer’s choice. Without the backpack, the bike cannot work—so it’s good as a basic antitheft system. The connector is under the seat.”

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
The detailing is stunning, and at first glance the BMW really does look fifty years older than its real age. From the discreet little rear light on the fender to the headlight brackets to the wooden footrests, there’s a delightful antique feel.

Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style
It took the Extemporae workshop around 250 hours to build ‘Abnoba,’ and it was time well spent. The price? Around 15,000 euros, or $17,000—which is roughly the same as a new Harley-Davidson Softail Slim.

You pays your money and you takes your choice, but we know what we’d choose.

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Time Traveller: The BMW R45 reimagined, 1930s style