From Warsaw with love
Somewhere inside an industrial railway building in Warsaw, there’s a garage that turns dreams into reality. The people behind 86 Gear Motorcycles are specialized in building café racers, street trackers, brats, scramblers, you name it. So when a customer walked in to ask for some of their magic, they couldn’t resist. In this particular case, the customer had only but one desire: the bike had to be a sporty but elegant cafe racer. Oh, and it had to be one with an air-cooled boxer engine. Other than that, there were no restrictions.
On top of that, this build was the 30th project of the Eighty Six Gear team. Worthy of some extra love and of a celebration.
Solid as a brick
The decision was made to source a BMW R100. Finding one that wasn’t completely worn out or beaten wasn’t an easy task. Yet, Christian Boosen from 86 Gear Motorcycles managed to find one in Berlin, the birthplace of the BMW. The base was a well maintained BMW R100 RT from 1982 with slightly less than 80,000 km on the clock and a full-service history. It turned out to be an excellent foundation that was worth every penny. The RT was BMW’s full fat version of the R100, so it came stock with a lot of goodies such as alloy wheels, steering damper, Brembo double front disc brake system, and a disc brake at the rear.
Stripped to the bone
The fuel tank remained stock, but was fitted with a period correct Monza fuel cap. To achieve an overall straight line, the tank was slightly lifted from the back. A custom made subframe and a one-off seating cowl were created to fit the bill. The engine and carbs were taken apart for a thorough inspection. Although it was kept in pristine condition, the boxer engine received a new set of pistons and rings, a new clutch, and a cam chain. The oil cooler got ditched and the stock oil pan was swapped out for an aftermarket, high capacity deep sump oil pan. With more oil flowing in the system, optimal cooling is provided without compromising the looks. Tuning the carburettors proved to be the biggest challenge – fitting Siebenrock Velocity Stacks required serious skills, and proved to be a slow and time-consuming process, but one that was worth all the efforts.
Old school meets new school
Although this BMW R100 was born in 1982, it got treated with a plethora of upgrades to make it ride like it was built yesterday. The old lead-acid battery got replaced for a lightweight lithium ion unit. The complete wiring has been custom made and mated to a Motogadget M-Unit, which resides under the tank. Other accessories sourced from Motogadget include controls, speedo, grips, mirrors, indicators and electronic box. Although the headlight remained stock, the rear light has been fabricated from a LED-strip, neatly nestled in the rear seat cowl. The front forks have been overhauled and treated with progressive springs, while the rear shocks have been upgraded to a set of YSS stereo shocks, giving the bike’s suspension modern day performance, while maintaining an old school look. It is evident that 86 Gear Motorcycles’ motto of “form over function” applied to this build too. It was built to be ridden, which explains the conscious and deliberate decision to use a café racer handlebar instead of clip-ons.
The aesthetics of the R100 had to match the bike’s performance so the R100 got painted in a nice satin white paint. Classic BMW M stripes were then added to the tank and seat cowl. The alloy wheels got a satin black in satin black finish and were treated with a set of Firestone Deluxe rubber, making it look like the bike can do 200 km/h while standing. The BMW is probably capable of those kinds of speeds too, given the bump in performance from 65hp to a healthy 70hp. Combine that with the Raask rear sets, free flowing exhaust, improved suspension and serious weight reduction, and you get a café racer that will GO on demand. It is clear that 86 Gear Motorcycles’ creativity, eye for detail, and craftsmanship played a major part in this project.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must interact with children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. One could argue that the same applies to the custom bike building scene: “It takes a community to build a bike”. “Although most of the work happens in a small, building in the heart of the city, friends we cooperate with daily are what make our workshop thrive throughout all these years”, says Cristian Boosen. So, to credit where credit’s due, a special thanks must be given to Adrian Figura from Scrambler74 for the exceptional welding, 4Drive for fabrication of the custom seat, and Kamil Galka for the mesmerising paint job. Something tells us that we will see more modified motorcycles from the Polish custom scene. According to Christian, “With only a few potential clients, the market has always been difficult and demanding. Nevertheless, passion for ‘something different’ is slowly fuelling custom motorcycle demand. As vintage-style motorbikes in Warsaw are gaining visibility in the city, the ‘best days’ of our local custom scene are still ahead.” In the meantime, we are thankful that we have some pictures to drool at.