Read the comments section on any custom car or motorcycle website, and you’ll see just how true the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ really is. Some of the hate is exactly that, negative comments for the sake of it, without appreciating the skill to craft what lays before their eyes. But, there are very real and genuine differences in taste and this can be the make-or-break issue between customer and custom builder. For Ales and Vlad of Slovakia’s Earth Motorcycles, this relationship is at the core of everything they do and for a customer build like this stealth-like BMW R80, they use their amazing talent to bring the client’s artistic vision to life in stunning style.
Ales explains their philosophy, “Everyone has personal preferences. Some people like cafe racers, some people scramblers, there are preferences for certain components and, of course, color matching can be in the thousands of options. In such projects, the customer also becomes a creator. In this way, the resulting motorcycle becomes even more exceptional for the customer. You don’t just buy a motorcycle here, you create a motorcycle. It is also important to say that such joint creation also has its limits.”
The result of this philosophy is that this build would have two subframe/seat combinations, one that the customer took away with the bike, and the other that satisfied Ales’ creative needs as a builder. But first, the bike had to be built and in addition to an aesthetic make-over, this 1989 RT also needed to be rebuilt. There is no cheap steel on a BMW and this means a bike of this vintage weighs a hell of a lot, so the first task was to remove from the frame any unwanted brackets, tabs, and non-functioning items. The centre stand was also ditched and a new side stand was fashioned from the stock piece.
The swingarm has also been smoothed out and all of the components to support a passenger neatly reworked should the owner op for two-up in the future. The stock subframe is ditched and an absolutely minimalist piece fabricated in-house to create the desired appearance, or they can opt for the Walz item also in their possession. Offering up the tank to the bike, it was found the union between seat and steel was off, and the rear tank mount has been raised by a full inch to create the perfect connection. With all of this metalwork done, everything was blasted and then powder coated in black.
The engine was next on the list and ripping it open revealed very badly damaged cam followers, so taking no chances, a full rebuild was set in motion. With all of the appropriate rings, seals and gaskets purchased, the engine was blasted with glass beads and then cerakoted. Building the boxer back up, every serviceable item saw attention, improved cam followers were added and the transmission and clutch overhauled too. Finally, a new cover was added that slims the motor down and does away with the airbox.
Now the BMW breathes through a set of K&N filters that are attached to blasted, cleaned, and rejetted Bing carbs, that are fed their gas by a completely new fuel system. On the exhaust side, the individual headers with a crossover pipe then feed back to a set of completely blacked out mufflers. With easy access to everything, now was the perfect time to build an all new wiring loom that could be hidden as the bike was built back up, and a range of components from Motogadget, Motone, and Highsider get the job done.
“The customer’s choice of the headlight is very nice. It was an already discontinued Highsider 5 4/3 inch LED headlight. I always wanted to use a headlight fairing, which had been wandering around the shop for years. So now was the time to show off.” Initially unsure about the yellow lens for the screen, all loved the contrast once the beautiful satin black paintwork was laid down on the tank. Which also features minimalist graphics and a slick new filler cap. Joined by the dark brown seat made by Militaseats, which was already in the shop awaiting a new home.
The client’s choice of vintage Shinko rubber, which has tall sidewalls, meant that the fork brace had to be shaved to allow for just enough clearance for that blade style fender. The forks themselves have been completely rebuilt and lowered internally by 5cm, while at the rear the bike wears a YSS Black series shock. A switch to a machined alloy top yoke and single instrument ensures that the rider’s view is all business and their feet land on a custom set of alloy footpegs.
Weight is now below 170kg, the engine will go forever and the looks certainly satisfy both customer and creator. A project of joint creative influences might have its limits, but if this is it, sign me up!
[ EARTH Motorcycles | Photography by Marian Svitek ]