The “my dad’s stronger than your dad, my dad’s car is faster than your dad’s” conversations are standard playground fodder. But unless you are Superman, in a Batcape, driving the General Lee consider yourself a failure as a father and a poor role model in comparison to Duncan’s dad.
Duncan , the owner of this bike, grew up in the 1980s on airbases in Germany. Yup, his dad was a fighter pilot, way cool! He also loved BMW motorcycles made sure there was always one in the garage. So basically his old man was Maverick, without the cheesy music and questionable chat-up techniques.
So picture this for a memory. It’s the school sports day and Duncan is jumping long distances, lobbing heavy objects around and racing his mates around the track. Then a roar in the distance begins to build as a jet heads towards the school, flying low, flying fast, right over the heads of all the other kids. Guess who. Feeling proud and on top of the world Duncan headed to the gates to wait for a lift home and who should turn up, his dad on an R80. He was handed a helmet and off they blasted, leaving the rest of the kid’s jaws on the floor and parents looking at each other in shame at their woeful parenting efforts.
Fast forward a generation and Duncan is the family man and MD of a leading video production agency. But that childhood memory didn’t wane and the hankering for Beemer continued to grow. A few months of research concluded and a shortlist of builders was drawn up with the aim of scratching that old itch, but properly, not just a cursory tickle. What better place to get scratching than the BSMC Event III at Tobacco Docks in May this year. Despite not meeting Shaun & Carl from Down & Out Café Racers, the selection of bikes on display in the main hall was enough to have Duncan scrabbling for his chequebook.
The donor is a 1982 R80 RT which although in fair order wouldn’t be sufficient for a a customer having waited this long for their dream bike, so a full and complete strip down was required. The frame was blasted and powder coated, with an off-the-shelf subframe added to make compatible with the other D&O components. A slightly earlier 1975 R75/5 fuel tank with a classic paint job and knee pads suggests scrambling aspirations.
Smokey exhausts isn’t a strong look so the engine was given a refresh. Re-honed barrels were sent off for powder coat while new piston rings ensure a clean combustion from the new Mikuni carbs. These otherwise oil-tight boxer engines are sometimes let down by the pushrod tubes, so these were replaced along with new seals. Older style rocker covers are readily available, easy to fit and improve the Boxer’s appearance; so a pair were fitted. Stainless exhaust headers shout their baritone beat into relatively short reverse cone mufflers.
Years of building custom BMWs and the constant R&D allows for plug and play fitment of some common parts. The punched and flared aluminium battery box fits easily into the subframe providing a home a normal sized battery and negating the need to play hide and seek with Li-Ion versions. A neat tuck ‘n’ roll seat fits, neatly of course, on the slightly kicked up subframe, with ignition relocated below.
Upgraded shocks and refreshed forks keep both ends in check when Duncan is making up for lost time. The ever popular Heidenau Scouts are fitted, 100/90/19 up front and 120/90/18 at the rear, which have proved time and time again to be an excellent choice for road use whilst insinuating dirt potential. D&O stainless mudguards of proper proportions are there just in case Duncan puts the rubber to the test.
A diminutive LSL brake fluid reservoir mounted to a set of British made Renthal bars with a Koso speedo sheds the years from the cockpit while a D&O stainless lamp lights the way, mounted by way of mini LED indicators and custom brackets.
The net result is that Duncan is over the moon with the result and really pleased to have realised a boyhood dream, and for finding the right outfit to make it all happen. Now all he needs to do is obtain his jet fighter licence.
Photos: Simon Krajnyak