We’ve all imagined that dream-like moment, where you walk into an elderly gentleman’s back shed and pull back the cover to discover the ultimate barn find. Sadly, most of us end up finding one rust bucket after another, but TV shows like American Pickers and Wheeler Dealers keep you on the hunt. The owner of this bike, Douglas, a big fan of German engineering and the design of the BMW Airhead, he hit gold when he discovered this 1981 R65 in a collectors back shed. For him, that meant most of the hard work was over, as he instantly knew the perfect builders to employ for the restoration. Australia’s Ellaspede Custom Motorcycles had already built him one stunning BMW R, and they’ve gone and done it again with this Bavarian beauty with plenty of classic charm.
Douglas is originally from South Africa, and he fondly remembers the first time as a young lad he saw a BMW airhead pass through his small home town. It was love at first sight and he knew that one day he’d bring his childhood dream to life. And three years ago we featured that dream, a BMW R65 built with Ellaspede and sporting a host of trick parts, like a slick tank and seat combo and a high-rise exhaust. But he was also shopping for a second machine at the same time and found it in Tasmania. “This particular BMW had a unique history, having been owned by a gentleman who dabbled in trading vintage treasures found in old sheds.” The bike had a few scars, but it was a solid base and unlike most R series bikes, remained unmolested.
Now with a second BMW in his possession, Douglas had a few good reasons to select the Ellaspede team for this build. Firstly, he’d loved the experience of having worked with the guys before and then there is the fact he has two sons, so it was only fair to be able to pass on one to each. “A bike built by Ellaspede can be an heirloom if it is loved and well maintained. I could not expect Josh or Luke to share the first bike, so now they each have one to inherit. Well, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it,” Douglas laughs with a big grin. So, once again a design was worked out between all involved and the BMW was in for a true classic makeover.
As with any comprehensive build, the Ellaspede crew stripped the bike down so that every last part was disassembled and all that was remaining was the chassis on the bench. A clever modification was carried out early on, with a longer swingarm fitted up to improve both the bike’s riding characteristics and overall aesthetics. Some quality fabrication was next on the menu, and the custom bolt-on rear subframe is a beautiful piece that delivers form and function in a truly classic way; no clutter and flawlessly finished. A hard-wearing satin black powder coat was then laid over the entire frame, and the foundation had been set.
The fuel tank with its smooth flowing lines and those old screw-on badges looked a million dollars before the paint had even been applied, but that didn’t stop the team from modifying it further, with a reshaped inner tunnel to better sit over the backbone, and a repair to the fuel tap areas.
The rest of the tinwork is neat and purposeful and the guards are finished in that iconic BMW look of black with white pinstriping. The burgundy addition to the main colour scheme came from Douglas and the hue is spot on, with that old-school low gloss finish. The seat was given some comfort foam and then John Moorhouse at Ergo Seats did the glorious upholstery work.
“My sons and I shopped around for inspiration on the internet. We wanted a totally different look and feel of the ride to the first build. The colours match the time period to which we sort to have the build represent.” But the second BMW build is more than just a looker, with MMM Boxerworks tasked with not only giving the engine a complete rebuild but fitting an OEM 850cc kit, to really bring the air-cooled boxer to life. The carbs are reworked to ensure there is plenty of fuel on tap and the R75/5 style cast cover and air box really enhance the classic vibe.
“The bike’s exhaust underwent an evolution with the addition of Niche Cycle reverse cone mufflers, not only enhancing the sound but also contributing to the bike’s unique appearance. Some stainless pipework now connects the factory headers to the new mufflers,” the Ellaspede team tell us. And just about every seal, gasket and rubber on the bike has been replaced with new items to ensure smooth operation and a lifetime of reliability. In the same vein, only the best electronic components would do, and that means the Motogadget catalogue is unleashed on the BMW, with additions from Koso and Daytona for the taillight and gauge.
To bring the whole experience to life for the rider, “The touch points are elevated with the inclusion of Grimeca clutch and brake levers, while Tommaselli-style grips provide a comfortable and stylish touch. And twin-pull throttle unit ensures a precise throttle control.” All of this is only enhanced thanks to the totally refreshed suspension to deliver a plush ride and rebuilt brakes with stainless lines for a confidence inspiring feel. To literally wrap up the build, Dunlop TT100 rubber was chosen for its classic looks and excellent grip.
Now Douglas owns two incredible airhead BMWs, both with their own unique character and his sons won’t just inherit a classic pair of motorcycles, but machines built to the highest of standards, based on a truly collaborative relationship with Ellaspede of Brisbane.
[ Ellaspede ]