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Thread: Complete Restoration of BMW R75/5 into Cafe Racer

  1. #1
    Rally Rat
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    Complete Restoration of BMW R75/5 into Cafe Racer

    I am new to this forum and I am also new to owning a BMW motorcycle. I recently purchased two basket cases and am going to have them restored into a unique Cafe Racer. I just finished the restoration on a 1965 Porsche 356 and I want this bike to be a sister bike to my car and restored in the same sort of theme. Both being German and both being air cooled, really fond of the idea. Below is the restoration site for my bike, we are just getting started and I am in the able hands of Josh Withers who is going to restore my bike for me. Just wanted to introduce myself and would love any feedback.

    www.btinet.net/~sharoncol/bmw.htm
    www.btinet.net/~sharoncol/porsche356.htm

    My Porsche was done in an Outlaw Racer theme and we are going to try to carry over the same look and feel to the bike. Same color scheme and everything, hopefully it will turn out pretty cool, knowinig Josh and his previous bike, I have no doubts.

    Thanks for following, I would love any input.

    Sincerely,
    Shane Balkowitsch

    PS: I have to bee honest, I do not even presently have a motorcycle license, but it is something I have always wanted to do. My brothers own motorcycles and many of my good friends and I would just love to be able to go for cruises with my friends and family on my unique BMW.

  2. #2
    criminaldesign
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    Have a blast Shane. Good looking car.

  3. #3
    copandengr
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    Cafe Racer

    Shane, welcome to the forum. There is more experience on this site than anywhere else and you will be able to benefit from it.

    I have no desire at all to rain on your parade but allow me to state one caveat that I feel is vital for you to think about.... Cafe racers or for that matter ANY machine that is modified from its original design will have characteristics that in all cases are make it handle differently from the original. These differences will present a challenge for an experienced rider and the fact you have no experience at all on bikes might make this a very dangerous thing to do. The best rider among us would last about ten seconds on a real superbike racer. They have lightening fast handling, incredibly powerful brakes, the ability to loft the front wheel at 140 MPH, etc. You get the idea. What I'm trying to say here is you need to get quite a bit of experience riding a stock bike, especially riding in traffic before you hop on your racer. With the racer's clip on bars, its seating position, perhaps modified powerful engine and different tires you will be on a different machine that will take some getting used to. Again...You desperately need to garner some riding experience on a regular bike before going out on a modified one.

    Think of it this way... Your 16 year old son just got his driver's license.. Daddy is so proud he goes out and buys the boy a brand new Corvette or maybe a Maserati. This is going to result in a predictable outcome!

    One of my good friends spent 12 years restoring a '64 'Vette. On the third day of it being on the road he let his 16 Y/O daughter drive it to school that morning... Well she hit a RR crossing at an estimated 70 MPH (in a 25 MPH zone) went airborne and the wreck came very close to killing her and her friend.... The 'Vette was, of course, destroyed.

    Other than this caution, have a blast both during the build and riding the end result.

    P.S. I looked at the Porsche photos after writing this post... All I can say is that if the guy you picked to build your bike is as talented as the people who did the Porsche, I expect to see the end result in a magazine article... Fantastic job for sure... I also have no worries about you documenting the build with photos. We all love pics here!
    Last edited by copandengr; 03-11-2011 at 04:53 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User mysteriousfish's Avatar
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    http://portland.craigslist.org/clk/mcy/2248936593.html

    here is a sweet cafe project FS in SW Washington...you might give this fellow a call as he appears to done some amazing work to this 71 /5

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Shane: There's an excellent article and photos of Josh Withers' cafe bike in the July/Aug. 2009 of Motorcycle Classics magazine. I'd say you're in very capable hands. Perhaps Josh will lend you his bike to prepare for the motorcycle driving test, while he's building your bike
    Enjoy yourself...these are great machines, either stock or custom.

    Nice car too.
    John Kuhn MOA#83073

    R1100S, R100S, Honda VFR

  6. #6
    Rally Rat
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    Thanks for the Well Wishes

    Thanks everyone for all the kind words and the words of warning. The build will take a year or two to complete, I have plenty of time to practice. I have 2 children and a new daughter coming in 36 days so I am not about to kill myself on my bike. I will be cautious, I will take all the classes and do it right, I promise you that but I do understand your concerns, and I appreciate you reminding me how important being prepared, educated and safe when it comes to a motorcycle.

    As for being in capable hands, I know Josh is the guy, his attention to detail is amazing and he is very knowledgeable about the BWM marquee. I will do my best to make you guys proud and as we progress along if anyone has any input good, bad or indifferent, I have no problem hearing it. I am new to this world that you guys have been living in for many years, but as with the Porsche, I am enthusiastic about my BMW and feel very fortunate to take on this challenge.

    Have a great evening and thanks for allowing me to share this with you.

    Sincerely,
    Shane

  7. #7
    John. jstrube's Avatar
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    Josh has a nice looking bike! Your parts bike looks pretty well "loved". I'm working on a R90/6 right now. I bought it wanting to build a cafe, but so far, have enjoyed riding it as is. Might have to look for another one to modify...

  8. #8
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Welcome Shane; there are a number of Porsche owners here:



    As for your project bike, stock airheads are pretty mild machines. I used to have a highly modified R100RS, and it was still a pretty mild machine. If you put short flat handlebars on it, you will lose some bar leverage, compared to a bike with regular handlebars.

    But, as mentioned, you should get in lots of seat time on a "smaller" size machine, while you are a building.

    P.S. I assume you are registered on the Rennlist? If not, give it a look.

    P.P.S. You should put Excellence magazine on to your car. They love outlaws.
    Last edited by Rinty; 03-13-2011 at 06:58 PM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  9. #9
    Rally Rat
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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by rinty View Post
    Welcome Shane; there are a number of Porsche owners here:



    As for your project bike, stock airheads are pretty mild machines. I used to have a highly modified R100RS, and it was still a pretty mild machine. If you put short flat handlebars on it, you will lose some bar leverage, compared to a bike with regular handlebars.

    But, as mentioned, you should get in lots of seat time on a "smaller" size machine, while you are a building.

    P.S. I assume you are registered on the Rennlist? If not, give it a look.

    P.P.S. You should put Excellence magazine on to your car. They love outlaws.
    Dear Rinty, how are you? Very nice Porsche, yes I am having conversations with Pete Stout the editor at Excellence and we are going to do a photoshoot of my car in the Badlands of North Dakota this spring and hopefully get the car into their fine magazine. I have all intentions of learning on another bike before my bike is complete. It is some time away until completion. Have a great weekend everyone and I will post updates as we go along.

    Thanks,
    Shane

  10. #10
    Douglas Williams
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    What an awesome build. I am looking forward to seeing what you can do with your cafe project. Please keep us posted.
    Sent from a Galaxy, far, far away

  11. #11
    Rally Rat
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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by 83014 View Post
    What an awesome build. I am looking forward to seeing what you can do with your cafe project. Please keep us posted.
    Dear Douglas, thanks for the enthusiasm and compliments. I will do my best to make you longtime BMW guys proud, I promise you that. I will keep this site updated and my build site updated throughout the process, I very much look forward to sharing with you, everyone on this forum has been so supportive.

    Thanks for following along as we move forward,
    Sincerely,
    Shane

  12. #12
    mymindsok
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by copandengr View Post
    Shane, welcome to the forum. There is more experience on this site than anywhere else and you will be able to benefit from it.

    I have no desire at all to rain on your parade but allow me to state one caveat that I feel is vital for you to think about.... Cafe racers or for that matter ANY machine that is modified from its original design will have characteristics that in all cases are make it handle differently from the original. These differences will present a challenge for an experienced rider and the fact you have no experience at all on bikes might make this a very dangerous thing to do.
    Gosh! That old Airhead is going to crank up all of it's 60 or 70 rip snortin horsepower and eat the Shane alive huh? Get real!

    I've been riding Airheads since the late 60's, including a couple of highly modified, 1050cc versions (Braced frames, trick carbs, over bored, 336 cams, hi compression, etc.) and I can't remember one of them that I'd compare to a Japanese 600, much less a full bore Super-Bike! Airheads simply won't make that kind of power and the mods that will actually work are tried and true.

    Shane:

    Congratulations for completing your 356 Resto. Beautiful car and you chose some great helpers to get the job done right. I wouldn't dissuade you from pursuing your Cafe Airhead idea. In fact, I think having those two vehicles in the garage would be very kool, so do it!

    There are several ways to approach a Cafe Racer project and it would serve you well to study up on some of the different styles and modifications that are possible. Do you want to work with an early bike or a later one? Twin shock or single? US or Euro style? Retro rod or modern? Big motor or small? How "custom" do you want to go?

    The real heyday of hot rod Airheads started in the mid 70's and was pretty much over by the mid 90's but there are still a few guys around who can steer you straight. I'd make a call or visit Chris Hodgeson at San Jose BMW. He still holds at least a couple of Salt Flats records for Airheads and he knows more about building highly modified and fast BMW's than anyone I can think of. I also would suggest that you drop over to http://www.advrider.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=35 and check out the forum. There are several Cafe builds on the forum right now, lots more in the archives and and plenty of tech info is available on a daily basis.

    I started working on a Cafe Racer project several years ago but as time went on and the collection of vintage parts and go-fast stuff grew, the bike morphed into more of a Retro Rod than anything else. The modifications I did to my bike are relatively subtle but the list is long and I ended up with a fast, great handling bike that turns heads. Just what I wanted!

    Good luck with your intended project and email me if you need any more info.

  13. #13
    copandengr
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    Airhead 85

    Mr. mymindsok...I was not implying that his racer would have huge amounts of horsepower. Think about what I said and try to understand it in context. Shane said he has ZERO experience riding ANY motorcycle. I applaud his honesty. A 750 CC bike is a poor choice to learn on. The fact that a cafe racer will have quick handling will make it all the more dangerous to learn on, horsepower or not. Judging from the photos, it is apparent that Shane has the funds and motivation to create a beautiful and highly modified Porsche. I firmly believe he will go to no less an effort when he builds the BMW. I do not believe he will construct a cosmetic wannabe cafe racer. His bike will be the real McCoy. This guy does not go halfway! You say the bikes you built were fast and highly modified... Would you put your son on that kind of scooter to learn the basics of riding? Evidently Shane agrees with me judging from his reply to all the posts.

    Sir.... YOU are the one who needs to get real!!! Was your first bike a 750 anything? When I learned to ride over 40 years ago, my part of the country was very rural with light traffic. I had a few years to get used to riding as well, starting out on a Honda 50. After two years I went to a CL350. A year after high school I went bigger once again to a CB750 and when the Gold Wing came out in '75 I bought one of those. There is no telling what would have happened to me had I started out with a 750 as my first bike, especially considering the heavy traffic and urban setting Shane lives in! Please re read my post, and pay attention to the analogy about buying a 'Vette or some other high performance car for a 16 y/o boy to learn to drive (I'm not implying Shane is immature). Even though a 750 BMW with 60 HP is considered mundane and short on power by today's standards, any motorcycle of that size will out perform just about any car on the road.
    Robin Coleman Marion, Arkansas, Retired locomotive engineer.

    "All my life I dreamed of retirement so I would have the time to play.. Retirement is here now but I'm so broke I can't afford to pay attention"!

  14. #14
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    what stock R75 puts out 60 hp? they'd be lucky to hit 52 or so (the R100s were stock at 62, with the Euro spec motors rated at 70hp).
    i am a BIG proponent of starting with something on the smaller, easier to handle side; and see no issues at all starting on a BMW R75. Tame bikes, very predictable power deliver (about as flat a flat torque curve as exists on the planet!), predictable handling. Only big issue in my mind is the (compared to modern bikes) mediocre brakes.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  15. #15
    Rally Rat
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    It will be OK

    Thanks for all the comments, suggestions and concerns. Like I said I will do my best to make you guys proud and I have not worked as hard as I have to get to fulfill a couple of little dreams like the Porsche and the BMW to just turn around and kill myself on the bike. I have a very young family and if I ever thought that was the case, I would park the bike until they are gone later in life. But at 42 years old I find myself trying to do a little for myself, which was a challenge and it took me a while to get over the guilty feeling, but after much thinking, and knowing that I am not taking food from my kids mouths to pull these couple of projects off, I felt a better about it. This is not a mid-life crisis, it is just a guy that has an opportunity to do a couple of things for himself and as an Oncology Nurse by trade, I understand all too well that we only have so much time on this earth. Sorry to get so philosophical guys, just trying to share and I think you will find that I wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes.

    Anyway, I have cool news, Josh has decided to create his own Blog also to document the restoration of my bike from his perspective and I am very happy to see that, so hopefully as our story and build unfolds we will have some good information to share, you guys will have to be the judges of that. As with the Porsche, it was very fun for me to share the build with everyone at the 356 Registry and from the responses I am getting here it will be equally as fun to share you all you guys and gals. Have a great day, Josh's Blog is now on my build website but you can get to it directly below:

    http://www.beemersandbits.com

    Thanks,
    Shane
    Last edited by balkowitsch; 03-15-2011 at 01:05 PM.

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