Timeless: A vintage ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom
Dirk Oehlerking’s name has become synonymous with cosmic art deco machines that wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery. But the German custom bike maestro also knows how to build everyday motorcycles that stun with their simple elegance. He’s just used that approach on a classic BMW R80 boxer, turning it into an ISDT-inspired scrambler for the streets.

Dirk cooked up the idea while attending the uber-popular BMW Motorrad Days event. BMW was exhibiting a collection of factory race bikes that were successful in the International Six Days Trial in the late 70s, and Dirk fell in love with the aesthetic. But rather than build a dedicated enduro machine, he fancied the idea of a daily runner with vintage ISDT style.

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom
As it so happens, Dirk had the perfect donor bike sitting in storage; a 1976 BMW R80/7. So he hauled it into the Kingston Custom workshop, stripped it down to just its frame and engine, and started visualizing the final product.

The R80/7’s 18” spoked rear wheel fit the bill, but Dirk needed a taller arrangement up front. So he grafted on the forks and 21” front wheel from a 1984 BMW R80G/S, then slapped on a set of Continental TKC80 dual-sport tires. A pair of new YSS shocks prop up the rear.

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom
Since the idea was to maintain the donor bike’s vintage appeal, Dirk shied away from modding the frame and subframe in any way. He even kept the original tool compartment—along with the OEM tire pump that lives inside the main frame tube.

Dirk has countless years of customizing old boxers under his belt, so he’s amassed a hefty pile of sidelined parts. Digging into that pile produced an R50/5 toaster tank, which needed a considerable amount of restoration to bring its chrome covers back to life. BMW’s motorsport colors are inlaid into the tank’s side grooves, behind original BMW roundels.

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom
Perched behind the tank is an old Denfeld seat that’s been refurbished with new foam and faux leather. It’s flanked by handmade aluminum number boards, painted yellow to mimic those on the ISDT bikes. The left panel has cutouts for the BMW’s original grab handle, while the right is curved around the exhaust muffler.

The two-into-one exhaust system is from the German exhaust company Hattech. It’s based on a vintage scrambler exhaust that Hattech had previously built for Lucky Cat Garage.

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom
The high-riding exhaust, abbreviated seat, and big front wheel go a long way to transforming the R80’s looks. But it’s the vintage enduro-style plastics that drive the point home. Dirk sourced the fenders and headlight nacelle from UFO, opting for an all-white finish.

The cockpit sports a lovely set of period-correct steel handlebars, fitted with LSL grips, and controls and switches from Dirk’s stash. And if you look closely, you’ll notice that Dirk swapped the front brake from the right to the left side so that he could run the brake hose across the front of the headlight’s number board; another nod to the old BMW ISDT bikes.

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom
Modern electronics and teeny-tiny turn signals are all the rage these days, but Dirk was committed to this project’s classic style guide. So he installed a tiny chromed analog speedo and a set of 1970s-style bar-end turn signals. Lower down, you’ll find a set of chromed crash bars and the BMW’s OEM center stand.

What Dirk didn’t do, was lather the bike in dirt bike-specific accoutrements like hand guards, enduro foot pegs, or a massive sump guard. “Those would only have been useful for off-road use,” he says. “This motorcycle should be reminiscent of the good times from the 70s, but also be a classic daily cruiser.”

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom
It’s refreshing to see a custom motorcycle that blends form and function this well, all while eschewing trends to create a truly timeless runner. And the fact that Dirk can play at both extremes of the custom bike spectrum so adeptly is a testament to his prowess as a craftsman. Bravo!

Kingston Custom | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Marc Holstein

ISDT-inspired BMW R80 by Kingston Custom

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