I really love digital media. It has made life so much easier in many ways. Yes, I am aware of all its downsides too, but let’s stay on the positive side. Finding inspiring builds and creative builders has never been so simple. Just browse Facebook, Twitter, and all other available channels and you will encounter an avalanche of remarkable stuff.
In this particular case, my Instagram path led me to a hamlet slightly North-East of Paris. A beautiful area where the hero of this story shares the streets with 165 other villagers. The French are well known for their good taste in many things and Vincent Degano is no exception to this rule.
Hard NOT to notice
Is best how you can describe this utterly unique creation. If you feel lonely or deprived of attention, one ride on this BMW R100 will cure all that. It is a daring design which you will probably like or hate. I guess there is not much in between.
In my case, I was fascinated by the motivation to produce a custom bike with such atypical looks. Yes, I like it, but would I have had the balls to chose the copper finish? I guess not. Still, the color scheme does justice to Vincent’s design and what the heck, why not?
Funny, with more than 500 kilometers between us (and a couple of years) our 37-year-old Frenchman grew up with a dad riding BMW’s for work. Just like I did. And both our fathers were policemen who spend most of their professional days on two wheels.
Whereas I drifted away from BMW, Vincent stayed loyal and focused on building BMW scramblers for the last five years. He finds scramblers easier to handle for daily use. That’s why he stuck with them until now.
Scrambler versus café racer
Our builder was looking for a BMW with sufficient ‘bite’ to turn into a café racer. I am happy he choose the R100 Mystic for rebuilding purposes. This bike was the Bavarian brand’s first attempt at producing a retro styled bike. And how they failed back in the early nineties!
So thank you, Vincent, for taking an ugly duck looking bike off the road and turn it into the beautiful swan it is now! He bought it off a French lady who rode the bike to work for 15 years. I hope she had extremely good looks, sure as hell she was not going to get the attention of a lot of men riding this model.
The framer could not wait to get back to his shed and take the bike fully apart. The fifteen years of daily rides had left their marks on this iron lady, so stripping her bare was the only right thing to do.
The stripping went way beyond cosmetic. Intricate heart surgery was deemed necessary after opening the engine. Maybe not so much because it the machine was in bad condition, but in Vincent’s opinion, the performance would have to match the look he had in mind.
So valves, cylinder lining, the entire electrical circuit were subject to a major overhaul. The airbox was removed and breathing was improved by mounting KN filters. After all the bodily fluids had been exchanged too, the machine was ready to roll. From a mechanic point of view, that is.
Frontal attack and cosmetic surgery
As our French builder put it “after I had taken care of the mechanic side of the rebuild, I was ready to attack the aesthetics of the bike”.
And attacking is what he did!
With the looks the factory decided on, Vincent had quite a challenge as he definitely wanted pure café racer looks without any concessions whatsoever.
The skinny front legs were amputated and made room for a replacement donated by a 2010 Triumph Speed Triple. This instantly gave the bike ‘bad’ look. In the Michael Jackson sense of the word of course! It definitely added balance to the design, connecting the heavy drivetrain in the back and sturdy forks with the wheels in between.
Changing the forks also opened the way to mounting two 320 mm Triumph discs and a radial Brembo braking set. This required changing the yoke and clamps. Two aviation standard “Silverperformance’ tubes were installed to enhance braking pressure.
A handmade front fender completed the front side. The same hands made the headlight supports to hang the ‘Bates’ produced lighting. For good measure, a ‘Daytona Velona’ speedometer was tastefully inserted between the forks.
To keep everything under control a set of LSL clip ons are attached to the forks, completed with ‘Biltwell’ grips.
Why not just modify everything?
The original ‘Mystic’ gas tank was replaced by a 1992 R80 mono-lever version, which was a far better fit with the total design.
The rear of the frame was built up from steel in order to support the seat shell produced by ‘Bikecomposites 61’. This modification made it possible to also house the battery enabling the builder to keep the lines of the bike very, very clean.
Completing the rear section is the seat produced by ‘Krisalide sellerie’, the rear light and miniature blinkers by ‘Motogadget’.
It nearly goes without saying that the frame and all other parts were also given a complete makeover. Special attention was given to the bronze finish, which is a powder coat using actual brass powder to create the unique shine. Glossy black was used for the front fender and the rims.
Clearly, the engine was not only taken good care of on the inside. The outside is shiny and brilliant as if straight from the factory. Guilty of all this fine work was ‘Paint Design’.
‘Megaton’ silencers are mounted to keep the noise under control. But will they? Should they?
Vincent is rightfully proud of the way this bike came out of rehab. When asked he explains: “the R100 is one of my top performances as a creator. I am really proud of what I managed to do with this old lady. Thanks to the completely revised front, the BMW really has s road performance you’d expect of a modern motorcycle. But it has the look of a genuine café racer, with a touch of arrogance in her color palette. For me, it tastes like more!’