Over the last eleven years, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride has done some incredible things, raising $US35million for men’s mental health and prostate cancer research. More than 400,000 riders have gotten involved from nearly 120 countries and now you can add another achievement, a bike style all of its own. When a client approached Žiga Petek of Slovenia’s Gas & Retro, he knew the kind of bike he was after but wasn’t sure how to articulate it. ‘Gentleman’s Ride’ became their common idea and from that simple exchange, Žiga was left to work his magic. Adding a whole extra level of class and status to the build, the bike was finished to be displayed at a winery and takes the name of the local grape variety ‘Sipon’.
The reputation of Gas & Retro has spread and grown so far and wide, that the owner of this R series BMW arrived at the shop with a friend. They both wanted full custom machines, one after a BMW R and the other after a BMW K. Žiga was happy to oblige and was quickly on the phone with an old friend who has been employed by BMW Slovenia for the last 40 years. He was the perfect man to help source two good donor machines and they soon arrived at G&R HQ. With the full trust of the client to bring a custom creation to life, the BMW R100 was stripped down and construction was immediately underway.
With the bare frame up on the lift, a new subframe was a must if the bike was going to have clean lines and a slick new piece was readied to be bolted on. With the owner wanting the option for a pillion, the top tube has been upsized for extra strength, with gussets at the connection to the main frame, and a sleek single-sided support. To give a fully integrated appearance and function, 3 in 1 turn signals keep the back end clean and bolt into their own mounting locations. Now the entire chassis, swingarm, and the new subframe could be finished in gloss black for the perfect base.
With a certain look in mind, Žiga wasn’t feeling the R100 tank and went on the hunt for a suitable replacement and found what he was after in the shape of an R65 unit. “It’s smaller and goes better with lines I had in my mind.” To give it an extra touch of class, the factory fuel filler was cut out and a new machined Monza unit was welded in. The seat was next, with a new base fabricated that has a generous layer of foam laid down over the top before gun upholsterer Mitja Bizjak took over and stitched up a cover to perfectly match the new subframe’s lines.
To keep the slick lines moving forward, a new headlight was on the cards, and this was a chance for Žiga to show off one of the products he sells in his store. The front cowl is hand-shaped at G&R and is bolted to the fork legs with a selection of mounts to suit various styles. With the universal availability of Koso headlights, the cowl has been designed to accept one of their LED items. To complete the bodywork, a small blade style front fender and mounts were fabricated, and it was off to Matej Mrzlikar for paint. He laid down the rich black and it was a shared idea of all to complement it with a simple red graphic.
This is then picked up in the red spark plug leads for the Boxer twin engine and it was the mechanicals that would be next on the list. As good as the donor machine was, the engine has still been entirely rebuilt, topped with a new cover, and then painted entirely in black. Even the carbs didn’t escape the spray gun, and they’ve been re-jetted and fitted with a set of DNA pod air filters. The exhaust is an area where Žiga always excels, and the two custom stainless header pipes are angled so that they run rearward tight to the frame, before branching out to spit fire from a set of mufflers from fellow Slovenians at Akrapovic.
An all-new suspension setup was always on the cards for the build and a complete front end was sourced that could be dropped in with a change of bearings. But first, the triple trees were modified and repainted and the fork internals were rebuilt to suit the BMW’s lower centre of gravity. The big brakes are always an added bonus of a modern front end, and the twin discs with Tokico calipers get an extra helping hand thanks to a Brembo RCS master cylinder. Spoked wheels with dual-sport rubber suit the look and versatility of any BMW R, and the rear end is made more compliant with a YSS shock.
Žiga machined a number of axle and nut covers from raw aluminium for a sleek finish and then got down to the laborious task of building a wiring loom from scratch. As so many builders do these days, he selected a Motogadget m.unit to serve as the brains of the operation and also picked up a set of their switches, a motoscope mini for the dash, and the keyless start system for that little extra slice of cool. A lightweight battery is hidden in a custom box and to finish the build a number plate support is bolted to the rear.
To make the unveil as special as the build, the bike was taken to the Ducal winery near the Austrian border, where the incredible sculpture of Primož Pugelj is on display. Here the owner took delivery, and you can bet that plenty of corks were popped to celebrate; a very distinguished start to the life for this gentleman’s dream BMW.
[ Gas & Retro – Photography by Rok Plesnar ]