Magazines, blogs and websites like the one you’re reading right now can provide you with several things; they can be a good pastime, a source for inspiration, a buyer’s guide or a way to get in touch with the bike builder you chose to build your two-wheeled dream. That’s how this BMW R75/5 came about and since Scott Halbleib from hgarage took the time to explain the story of the build himself, I leave the words to the builder himself:
This was the first actual commissioned build that came from years of fantastic and greatly appreciated press. A gentleman from Missouri contacted me through hgarage.com inquiring about a build with possibly a newer model Triumph or and older BMW airhead. We discussed and I told him I felt we could do something more drastic with the BMW as the Triumph’s already have a retro look and for what I would want to do to a Triumph would require a considerable budget. So we decided on a BMW and he brought it to the garage within a couple of weeks. Deadline was just three months and with the bartending gig, and being knee-deep in planning for Kentucky Kick Down, I had to get cracking.
The donor was really nice so I set off on creating a few design concepts. The client had provided quite a bit of input but it was all over the spectrum. I love the look of the bikes, so the plan was to maintain a classic look, add some modern details and give it a bit more attitude. A bit of a departure from what I usually produce but was looking forward to the challenge.
The first step was a complete teardown of the bike. The motor and frame were cleaned, prepped and painted. I sourced a long wheelbase swing arm, driveshaft and rear brake arm to replace the short version. The bike was then reassembled and delivered to Cliff Meyer at Meyerbuilt Metalworks. I had originally thought I would mono shock myself but as he was just a couple of hours away and did amazing work, it was an easy decision to source this out. I spent the next couple weeks accruing all the parts I would need.
Once the bike returned I worked with Chad Francis of Retrowrench to complete some mechanical upgrades including Dyna ignition and some rewiring. Chad then set off working his magic on the carbs. I sourced a wicked little battery from Speed cell that I was able to locate in the airbag along with the breather filter to keep things as clean as possible. We dropped the front an inch and stiffened up the front and rear for better handling.
I immediately knew I wanted to use the Coker Diamond tread tires and also wanted to use a larger sidewall. Wheels were painted to match the motor, baked and new rubber was mounted. This required lengthening the front strut and fork brace. I decided to use a front fender out back as well to hug both tires and built a custom strut and swing arm bracket to mount. It was finished off with an old school beehive tail light.
Mufflers were swapped out for some turnouts which required machining the rear brake pedal to wrap around. Then, the exhaust and mufflers were painted with high temp black paint. New low-rise handlebars from Flanders, controls were stripped to bare aluminum, headlight bucket was lowered by way of some new aluminum headlight ears and bicycle grips from Brooks were machined to work with the stock metal throttle. Thanks to some meticulous machining from Will Ramsey of Faith Forgotten Choppers, honing out the collars and shaving down the throttle tube an mm at a time. Not having all of the necessary equipment seems to be a hindrance most of the time but it allows me to work with others who I look up to, so in the end it’s almost a blessing.
The tank was raised 1/4” in the back to parallel the motor a little more closely and then it was time to fab up the custom seat/tail section. The goal was to have it suspended, low and following the turn-down line on the tank, which would also mean scooping out the back to allow for adequate suspension travel. Panels were folded and rounded to make the basic shape and the top side was hammered out and welded up. Bobby Fulkerson slicked and painted the tins in a dark maroon while stock and new tail side panels were stripped and Ceracoated in an aluminum finish, with new emblems fitted.
The seat was designed and redesigned, settling with the diamond pattern to match the tire tread and adding a recessed aluminum plate to tie everything together. Then it was sent to the upholstery whiz in Oregon, Ginger of New Church moto to work her magic - and of course she did, again.
I’m very happy with the bike. As always, I wish there was more time and money but I think for what we had to work with, it’s a solid design with nice fit and finish. The client is ecstatic so that’s what really matters in the end. Who’s next?
Photo credit: Rob Haynes