Every year thousands upon thousands of photos are uploaded to the internet and social media of new custom bikes being built all over the world. A lot of them look good, some of them look downright beautiful, but what we really don’t know is just how well they ride; and let’s be honest, that’s damn important! So, how do you select a custom shop that can build you a bike which has the function as good as its form? You find a place like Side Rock Cycles that has the runs on the board, the racing trophies in the cabinet, and decades of experience that won’t let you down. Here head honcho Pete Hodson is the man, and the Bournemouth based outfit have built this truly brilliant BMW R80 street scrambler.
Pete has been in the trade since the ’70s, he’s built a ton of amazing bikes, competed in national-level road racing, won a number of club championships, and competed in everything from slick circuit racing to enduro and trials. He knows how to screw a bike together and exactly how to make one operate just the way it should. So, it was no surprise that a client with a bike that was performing poorly came to Side Rock for some solutions. “Our client Jimmy’s friend bought this modified R80 a while back but was getting increasingly frustrated with it as it was constantly letting him down and never ran right.”
Eventually frustration won and just as he was getting ready to scrap the bloody thing, Jimmy stepped in, put some money down on the table, and told him he’d not only get it sorted but have it transformed into a dream scrambler for both of them to enjoy! “That’s when we got the call and soon a plan was hatched and work commenced,” Pete smiles. “Big brakes, performance and handling upgrades, a high level exhaust system and a specific ‘Lapis’ blue colour for the tank and rear shock springs were high on the build brief.”
The first task was to get the bike stripped down, rid it of all the crap parts that had been failing and prepare it for a quality build-up. Then it was off to OS Pipes who built the stunning stainless exhaust, a high mount, two into one system that delivers a pitch-perfect sound. Now back at Side Rock, the new pipes helped to lay down a template for the rest of the build, and a quality engine was high on the agenda. Back to a bare block and the big change comes from the fitment of a Siebenrock 1000cc Power kit.
With no corners cut, the rest of the engine was built back up and the whole thing finished in black with stunning filed fins. A set of new Mikuni carbs completes the job and the new engine gives the BMW bulk torque to pull hard from any RPM. Pete is big on ensuring a bike’s brakes are more than up to the job and came up with a winning solution. “BMW S1000RR Brembo radial calipers, 320mm EBC floating discs, and sintered pads were sourced and a call to R90X Designs across the pond for the lovely milled alloy conversion kit to fit the stock fork legs and the front spoked wheel was ordered.”
Turning his attention to the tank of this bike called ‘Bruiser’ and it has been panel beaten to perfection, to get the metal straight before the stunning Lapis blue paint is laid over the top. “One of our SRC scrambler subframes with a gorgeous black leather seat with blue double-diamond stitching” takes care of the rear end. While a set of lightweight brushed alloy guards complete the bodywork. The last of the blue is sprayed onto the coil-over springs of the adjustable YSS shocks, which allow Pete to really dial the bike in.
Mounted on the new LSL bars is the first of a host of quality accessories, a high end Accossato radial pump master cylinder for the brakes and matching clutch assembly. Motone push-button switches join the party and the incredibly neat wiring is centred around a Motogadget m-unit. The same company provides the bar end indicators, with an LED Koso headlight and Kellermann combination tail lights fitted to complete.
“Tyres on a street scrambler can be a divisive issue, too knobbly and it’ll feel horrible on the street, too road-biased and it won’t look right or grip on the loose stuff so a good compromise were the Mitas E-08’s which were chosen and fitted to the refurbished stainless spoked wheels. They perform well on the street and can cope with the odd foray onto the dirt,” Pete explains, navigating expertly one of the custom scenes most delicate issues.
And with that this brilliant BMW R80 was transformed from a headache into a heavenly hot rod for Jimmy and his mate to haul ass on, ripping up the roads of Kent and doing it looking the business in that stunning Lapis blue.