Given the sheer prevalence of the BMW R series of bikes in the custom world, finding a way to use the platform and still stand out from the crowd is becoming increasingly more difficult. But from the time he built his first motorcycle, Fran Manen has never had to worry about those accusations. His machines funnel his unique personality into two-wheeled form and the results often leave people speechless. But to make it in this game, you also have to have a keen business acumen. This is why the owner of Lord Drake Kustoms, literally did read the comments section and following the great reception of his wild BMW R ‘Survivor’, he’s back with its little sister. A more practical and street-friendly version of the still radical creation and now available as a limited edition run called ‘BMW R Sport Edition’.
The concept of ‘Survivor’ was born from Fran’s Covid-19 lockdown boredom, when he locked himself in his Málaga facility and dreamed up as wild a BMW R as he possibly could. He then brought the creamy and chrome concept bobber to life and the example we featured, along with a number of others built as part of a limited run, were sold via his shops in Málaga and Miami. When we featured that bike back in 2021, the comments section was almost unanimous, people simply loved the bike, even though it was more over the top and outrageous than the sort of bikes they might normally go for. One comment, made by an astute custom builder himself, noted that with a few practical changes, it would make for a stellar street bike that still retained the wild look.
And Fran was thinking to himself the exact same thing. “Survivor broke the mould when it was presented to the public and proof of this is that several units of the limited edition sold in just a few months,” Fran explains. But he also realised that “the motorcycle is very successful but it is a cafe racer motorcycle for a very small public due to its exclusivity and high cost; it is also a customised motorcycle more of a museum than to drive with it.” So, for this reason, Fran decided to bring out a cheaper and, above all, more versatile and street focussed version and the new BMW R Sport Edition was born.
To bring the cost down, the first change that people will notice is that the Sport Edition begins with an R80, rather than the R100 base of Survivor. Although as Fran explains, he can build either edition on just about any R series base if you already have a donor. The next change reduces the cost and makes the bike more street friendly, and that’s done by doing away with the custom-built springer front end. There is no doubt the springer, with its trick brass components, looks amazing but the more conventional setup is much more friendly to ride on the street. In its place goes a set of traditional Showa front forks, which have been dressed up with custom chrome shrouds.
Spinning on the axle of the new setup is the next change, a switch from an old school drum braked hub, to the original BMW hub that comes with any donor bike. But Fran wanted to improve the braking, so he’s added a more modern disc brake with a big old caliper to match. The lever to operate the new front brake setup is also drastically different, with the complex and expensive inverted levers swapped for more conventional items. These sit on off the shelf style 7/8th bars, although you still get a very cool set of risers. And to match the custom stitched leather grips, Motogadget vintage speedo and braided lines mean this is still one very classy contraption.
The last of the big changes is Fran’s decision to opt for a much more conventional rear suspension setup. Survivor uses a custom swingarm, that mounts a pair of shocks in the middle and runs to the centre post in a mono-shock style design. It looks trick as hell and continuous R&D ensured that it operated brilliantly, but the cost to fabricate each setup is substantial. So, to simplify things, the twin shocks now mount in factory-style locations and with the use of fully adjustable items, you get a really slick ride.
The new setup also has allowed Fran to go with a more conventional rear fender, but the all-chrome piece with custom strut mounts still looks the business. And there is no change to the major bodywork, with the blinged-out Benelli Mojave tank sharing the same sweet lines as its older sibling. The tank is customised to sit more neatly over the BMW frame and is then given the full treatment, with custom badges, leather strap and machined filler cap. The seat is still a leather clad solo unit, but the mount is not the expensive chrome leaf sprung arrangement as before, with a simple post now running off the frame.
The leather and chrome work extends once again to the engine, and the completely rebuilt lump looks simply incredible with hours of detail work to ensure a flawless finish. Both bikes share the eccentric twin-pipe exhaust system, which features punched shields and brass tips. The final piece to the Sport Edition puzzle was to ensure that the bike would pass a roadworthy inspection more easily than its big brother. To achieve this a chrome front fender is mounted on custom struts, there is a new number plate holder and indicators have been neatly hidden.
The reality is that in cream and chrome, both machines are truly radical beasts which will turn heads wherever they go, but this little sister will ensure your time in the saddle is as fun-filled as simply looking at Lord Drake’s marvellous motorcycle.