A midlife crisis usually involves one or more very bad decisions and a rather large dent in your bank account. In fact many car and bike manufacturers design products to appeal directly to this market, in the safe knowledge most of us will go through this phase sooner rather than later. But more than a little creative and very handy on the tools, David Manchester of New Jersey, USA, decided if he was going to have his time of turmoil, then he’d have something to show for it. Turning his time and talents to bike building he’s produced some stunning customs, the latest is this clean as can be 1995 BMW K1100 that’s developed a personality of its own that he calls ‘John Malkovich’.
Before he turned his attention to motorcycles, David spent the majority of his career in contracting and home remodelling. Before switching things up to do a stint in R&D in new tech for a printing company. Now he’s a full-time welder and machinist making government contracted parts for submarines, as well as helping his wife part-time in her event and floral design business. Where he finds time to build bikes we have no idea, but he’s crafted two Triumph Bonnies, a BMW K75, a 1955 BMW R 25/3 resto and a R75/6 to serve as his forever machine. But during the build of this K1100 he was watching HBO’s ‘The New Pope’ staring Mr Malkovich, and the actor’s strong personality body-snatched the bike and began to direct its own build.
“John was not afraid to voice his opinion on how he felt his transformation should progress. He started as a very large, very heavy touring bike. Fully faired and full of attitude. He did not like change and was, let’s say, resistant to it. It took many late night philosophical conversations between us to get on the same page. Those conversations though did not necessarily help prevent the occasional fit or tantrum. In fact, the night before his first show he mysteriously fell on his side, as if someone had pushed him over. I yelled in frustration ‘God damn it John, what is it now?!’ Yes, building motorcycles can make you a little crazy.’
David was happy to play along and let the great thespian lead the dance, accepting nothing but perfection David knew he’d have to go all in. That means just about every part on the BMW is new, restored, replaced, customised or built from scratch. The frame provides the foundation and has been de-tabbed and smoothed out, with new swingarm bearings fitted, the seat, tail and tank mounts modified and then given a coat of Eastwood 2k ceramic black paint. The rear hugger is one of the most interesting we’ve ever seen, the reinforced steel grate prevents any large stones getting through and it’s all topped off with a copper cross, the first of many details in the soft element.
At the rear of the machine, the twin taillights project through meshed out lenses and just like the rear indicators are fitted with copper rings for detail. Up front a modern LED headlight incorporates the turn signals and features the same black and copper tone in stunning detail. Being the meticulous man that he is, David made sure the factory fuel tank was arrow straight, removed its tabs and painted it himself in a mix of gloss and matte black to break up the bulky size, before laying down the perfect pinstripe in the metal hue of the day. Behind it, the seat unit is an absolute beauty, hugging the lines of the bike, built and upholstered by the fine folks at Cafe 4 Racer.
The way he builds bikes you knew the suspension and brakes had to be at their best, so David sourced a set of all balls bearings for what was to come. With them in the neck, he slotted in GSXR1000 forks that have been rebuilt with new fluid and seals. The Tokico calipers have their fluid supplied by Venhill custom lines, there is new wave style rotors, a rear Brembo master cylinder and the front is rebuilt with a kit from Magura. A set of new rims is fitted up, a GSXR600 front with new axle bearings and the rear off a BMW R1150 is controlled by a Yamaha R1 shock. Before a set of meaty yet very streetable Heidenau K60 tyres were fitted up.
Known for their ultra reliability, that didn’t stop David going to town on the K engine, replacing, overhauling or repairing just about every component. From a new alternator and clutch, to new 4 hole injectors, refurbished starter motor, throttle bodies and radiator. You’d have to write an essay to list it all, but as well as bringing the engine back to its best he also made it look a million dollars and introduced a few extra ponies. The custom four into one exhaust with pro-race muffler is fitted up and match ported and polished. With the intake side drawing breath through gorgeous custom copper intakes with pod filters.
With injected BMW’s of the period having overly complex wiring looms, David simplified everything and based the new system around the Motogadget m.Unit Blue. But he wasn’t done with the Motogadget catalogue, ordering just about everything they have on offer so that the big K was treated to only the best. The Motoscope pro for example is mounted in a hand-built copper surround and you start to get an appreciation for just how incredibly thorough this build is. To quote the great actor himself, “I like design, I like details, to me it is just another form of self-expression!” So we have a feeling Mr Malkovich would more than appreciate David’s hard work and the final result is absolutely Oscar worthy.