Why we love this motorcycle:
Straight from the home garages of the UK comes Nick Corlett's sweet custom BMW R80.
We love what Nick has transformed this typical bulky "dad bike" into, a stripped-down, mono-shocked, lowered, squatty, tight cockpitted cruiser. I mean.. who doesn't love a stubby Airhead?? Also, painted wheels are a level up in our book! There's just something about shrinking the look of an old BMW that seems right to us.
One of the best takeaways from this build is Nick's quote - "I probably spent more time researching than building."
Planning and research are absolutely what it takes for anything to succeed; we've learned that the hard way.
Great job, Nick. Can't wait to see what you build next!
What was the donor bike and what condition was it in to begin with?
The donor bike was an 1987 BMW R80 RT. It was tired and scruffy but roadworthy. The engine turned ok but was dirty and leaked.
When did you build the bike and how long did it take?
I started the build in 2018 and worked on it at weekends when I was able. As this was my first “proper” build I did a lot of research on parts, techniques and ideas. In fact I probably spent more time researching than building. The Revival Tech Talks were a great source on info. The bike was almost completed by September 2019 but I had electrical issues. I finally finished the bike during lockdown in the UK - April 2020 - and had it mot’d and road legal the same month.
What was the projected budget and what was the final budget?
Oh no you don’t want to know budgets do you? Ok here goes...
The donor bike cost me £3k. The Motogadget parts probably cost me another £1k, the frame and other parts powder coating was around £300, the paint another £250 and the various service items (seals, gaskets, bearings etc) about £400. I got a couple of items from Revival - the Triple Switches were $300 and the Rick’s Reg/Rec about $120. I’m not adding that up.
What inspired the build, and what were the design influences?
I’d previously done a basic customisation of a Triumph Bonneville - just bolt on aftermarket parts really - and I really wanted to do a full customisation job on the theme of modern retro. Using all new electrics on an old bike I’d seen a few R80 cafe racers and liked the way they looked. I also liked the bobber seat and flat bars so I decided to go my own way. Back in 2018 I was just learning what was out there and didn’t want to just bolt on aftermarket parts but I have limited workshop facilities as I’m making this in my garage. So I made as much as I could as I went along and documented it all on YouTube under the name The Long Way There.
Please list the major modifications and fabrication completed.
Full custom electrical system rewire using Motogadget m.Unit Blue, Motoscope Pro, mo.Lock RFID Ignition, mo.Blaze Pins, Revival Type 1 Switches, Lithium Battery and Rick's Reg/Rec. The Headlight was a "daymaker" style from a Jeep Wrangler, and the Stop/Tail was an Led Strip - which went on a custom tailpiece that I made from carbon fibre.
The seat came off a Triumph Bobber, and I made my own seat post. The hugger was a generic part off of eBay, and I fabricated the support for that and the license plate. I fitted a new top yoke that allowed me to drop the front of the bike without altering the forks. The mudguards were glass fibre generic parts, and I fabricated supports for both. I fitted flat bars with Domino Grips and Oberon Bar-End Mirrors. I converted the air box to take a smaller battery and fitted pod filters to the carbs.
Please describe the engine work completed.
Full strip down, clean and replacement of seals and gaskets. I replaced a couple of worn or badly corroded bits (such as the push-rod tubes). Otherwise the engine went back as it was. I had to make throttle cables and I added manual chokes to each carb.
Please list the additional components used.
Domino Twin Pull Throttle, Brembo Master Cylinder, Hel braided brake lines, Domino Clutch Lever and Venhill cables, Revival Type 1 Switches, Motogadget mo.Unit Blue, Loom Kit, Motoscope Pro, mo.Blaze Pins, Oberon Bar-End Mirrors. Custom Triple Clamp which allowed the forks to slide through (unbranded but came from BMW San Jose), "daymaker" halo led headlight, billet headlamp ears. Official Triumph Bobber seat - very comfy.
Did you farm out any of the work to third parties?
I farmed out some vapour blasting as I don’t have those facilities, Also the powder coating or the frame & wheels and tank spraying as I wanted a proper job doing. I had a friend help me with welding the seat post. That’s it.
What were the low points of the build?
When I had a slight electrical fire which caused me to burn out an Electrosport reg/rec. Following this I couldn’t get a spark. Much frustration and many weeks of trying to resolve. I thought I’d blown the mo.Unit as it kept giving me error messages. In the end it was a simple earth fault and all was well. But that meant I missed riding the bike on the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. I used my Bonneville instead though.
What were the high points of the build?
Finally finishing it and getting it road legal. The sense of achievement - especially in getting the electrics done - was great. Those electrics are very daunting. Also, as I’d documented the build on YouTube I had a lot of positive comments which was great.
Now that the build is finished, how satisfied are you with the results?
Overall I’m very satisfied. If I had more money I’d fit a better exhaust solution. But I can always add that later. I hear these builds are never finished really. ;)
Are you planning any future builds?
Already have another R80 in the wings. I’ll probably do a more subtle restoration next time. Then again - possibly not. Ha!
Are you keeping the bike? Or is it for sale?
I’m keeping it for now. May consider sale after I’ve ridden it for a bit.