The chaos in our world that Covid-19 has caused is almost impossible to measure, perhaps with the benefit of time, we may just get a handle on the total damage. Even for those whose health has been unaffected, the impact on small businesses and employment has been huge. For Leonid Skakunov of Drive-In Workshop, this meant making some tough decisions, but rather than fold he made the move to place his business under the same roof as Nikolai of Motoizevro and they’ve come out swinging with their first major joint effort. A 1995 BMW K-1100 that gives the power-packed BMW the handling to mix it up with sports bikes.
For regular readers of Pipeburn they’ll know that Leonid’s work is usually wild, over the top, and like nothing you’ve ever seen before. He has the rare skill of truly being able to translate his vivid imagination onto the canvas of a fully functional motorcycle. Nikolai, however, works in a more conventional manner and has built his name as the go-to man in Russia for a K-Bike custom. So this first project would give them the chance to fine tune the way they collaborate and bring the best out of each other.
“I settled in and laid out my tools, when an order came for a BMW K-1100, the customer’s desire was simple ‘I want a progressive suspension’. As for the rest, he left the design and construction solutions to Me and Nikolai,” Leonid tells us. So with the bike in the workshop, they sat down and started to work out exactly what they needed in order to not just improve the way the big K handles but to transform the very dynamics of the tourer. This is not something you can simply do in your head or with a tape measure in hand, this is the realm of engineering and software.
With the design sorted the parts collection process was next and the boys chose to utilise as much of the suspension as they could get from the slick handling K8 Suzuki GSXR-1000. Simply bolting on these pieces however only results in adding superbike geometry to the big K. Not an ideal mix, instead, the right parts were first 3D printed and then a set of triple clamps with the appropriate dimensions for the correct rake, trail, turning radius etc were machined up and the forks slotted in. Next up the boys machined a set of spacers for the axle and brakes, allowing them to use the floating discs and radial calipers to full effect.
With the front end sorted and the ride height set, work began on the rear end. Not looking to break new ground they took inspiration from other K bike builds. But once again, geometry wouldn’t be left to chance, and 3D printed parts allowed them to try each combination before the final pieces were made. The rear suspension supporting arm is made in a very cool industrial trellis design, with an extra pivot point built in to act like a proper linkage, rather than a hard-mounted shock that relies purely on the internal piston to control things. With a new fully adjustable shock bolted in, the roller was complete.
For the new rear subframe the guys designed the rails to mirror the look of the lower suspension arm and that industrial vibe translates perfectly, giving the entire rear end a cohesive appearance. Then the hand-shaped bodywork could begin to be made, aluminium panels covering the parts that weren’t left or designed to be exposed. From the tailpiece with its futuristic rear to the modified gas tank and the cool side fairings that help to hide the ignition coils and radiator end tanks; it all flows perfectly from front to back. Skills that were learned from Evan Wilcox on Instagram, who the boys highly recommend.
A generous diamond stitched leather seat was first formed and then crafted to fit and it was then time for the tins to head out for paint. As always, the man who gets the job is Anton from Octopus Art Aerografia, who laid down the flawless metallic silver and just the right graphics to pick up the new lines of the bike. With the metal work off, the electrics could be handled, “And from Prava, behind the motor shield hides a battery, ECU, switch, fuse box, turn signal relay and neutral sensor, our friends have developed this relay especially for us.”
The rest of the wiring loom sends power to the LED front headlight and mini tail lights in the rear. With the controls, a set of custom clip-ons to get the rider’s hand in the perfect spot, and a set of race-style rearsets to give maximum adjustability. One very cool custom touch is the clutch perch and lever that was designed and built in-house to ensure the K series clutch could be properly operated without the stock control.
Before finally turning their attention to the big BMW engine and a full exhaust and set of pod filters help to give the sound and performance to match the rest of the bike. The finished product is simply flawless, demonstrating all of the skills the two men possess and proving this is a partnership far more powerful than the sum of its parts.