Level Up: A BMW K100 café racer with a John Player Special vibe

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
Despite its increasing popularity, the 1980s K-series BMW remains a difficult bike to customize. There’s hardly an inch of it that isn’t blocky, angular, or just plain awkward—so it takes a sharp eye and deft hand to massage it into a slick and cohesive café racer. Enter Chris Scholtka.

Based in Cottbus, Germany, Chris splits his time between his job as a firefighter and his after-hours custom bike-building endeavor, Motocrew. He cracked the code for building razor-sharp BMW K-series café racers a while ago, and he’s produced a handful of them since. But his latest build—a 1984 BMW K100 café racer—hits a little differently.

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
The project was commissioned by a friend who had found a 1984 BMW K100 that was in great shape and wanted it customized. He naturally called Chris first—but Chris was hesitant to take the job.

“My first thought that it wasn’t a good idea,” he explains, “because I don’t want to build the same shit again and again. But this time my customer had a big enough budget to build something unique. So I said yes, and, after a couple of hours brainstorming with him, we settled on a basic setup.”

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
“Since everyone has been customizing these bikes, this one had to be a special, one-of-a-kind BMW K100. It had to be low and loud, and it had to have hints of the old Formula One John Player Special livery. It’s classy and it never gets old.”

Before he got to tweaking the BMW K100’s bodywork, Chris concocted an elaborate plan to give its running gear a major overhaul. The changes start out back, where the rear wheel from a 2000s BMW K1200S is mated to the swingarm and final drive from a 1990s BMW K1100. A fully adjustable shock from Touratech’s suspension line, Black-T, props up the rear.

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
Fitting the K1200S wheel to the K1100 swingarm called for some clever CNC machining, while fitting the swingarm to the K100 called for a little black magic. There’s more wizardry up front, where Chris treated the BMW to the forged aluminum front wheel, adjustable Showa forks, and twin Brembo calipers from a 2019-model Ducati Panigale.

“The Ducati front end was very hard to find at a reasonable price,” Chris tells us. “It ended up costing double the price of the donor bike.”

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
Moving to the bodywork, Chris created a set of ‘wings’ to cover up the indentations on the OEM fuel tank that used to accommodate the K100’s touring fairing. Each one is made out of tough PVC plastic and stabilized by a handmade steel mounting frame.

Further back, he employed the same trick that he’s used on past K100 builds to sharpen up the bike’s silhouette. A signature Motocrew subframe sits just above the original frame, which in turn has been trimmed to match. It’s an elegant solution that negates the need for a full frame redesign.

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
A custom saddle is perched up top, followed by a handmade tail bump. Chris wanted to try something new with the taillight, so he made his own, using LEDs and a hand-formed plexiglass lens. The light is orientated vertically rather than horizontally, and runs ‘over’ the back of the tail before disappearing underneath it.

Just below that, the stock bike’s abbreviated subframe rails are trimmed with a pair of LED turn signals. The license plate has been relocated to the side-mounted bracket that’s attached to the swingarm.

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
Under the hood, Chris rebuilt the K100’s motor and rewired the bike with Motogadget components; standard procedure on all of his builds. 3D-printed intake manifolds with a K&N filter replace the airbox, while a custom four-into-one exhaust system snakes its way into a rowdy underslung muffler. A hydraulic clutch upgrade comes courtesy of the fine folks at Powerbrick.

All of these changes, according to Chris, are designed to drag the 80s inline-four into the modern age. “If you run your eyes over it,” he says, “everything makes it look like a bike from 2024, in every aspect.”

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
This ethos is carried through to the cockpit, which features new clip-ons, a Domino throttle, Brembo master cylinders, and modern switchgear. The grips, bar-end turn signals, and single rear-view mirror are all from Motogadget, as is the digital dash, which is mounted on carbon fiber spacers to tuck it as close to the headlight as possible.

As for the light itself, that’s from a Husqvarna TC 450 enduro bike; an inspired choice, and a welcomed break from the usual options of a round light or a flat number board. Rear-set foot controls and a swish filler cap, all from Powerbrick, finish off the parts spec.

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew
And then there’s the K100’s new livery—an effortlessly cool tribute to the John Player Special designs of the past, with consideration given to everything from the bodywork to the engine and other hard parts. Chris also had the wheels powder coated, redid the fork uppers, and gave the fork lowers a black frictionless coating. (He even picked the Heidenau K73 tires because they remind him of older F1 rain tires.)

The result is not only one of the best BMW K100 café racers that we’ve seen from Motocrew, but one of the best K-series customs we’ve seen, period. Now if someone wants to throw another fat wad of cash at him to build something even wilder, we’ll be standing by.

Motocrew Instagram | Images by kylefx

BMW K100 café racer by Motocrew

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