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

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  1. #1

    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.

    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.

    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
    Have a blast Shane. Good looking car.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Marion, AR

    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
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Portland, Oregon

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

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Lawrence, KS
    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

  6. #6

    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.


  7. #7

    Smile Headlight Guard

    Just picked myself up a Headlight Guard, Josh has one on his bike and I think it is a nice touch. I have to say I am pleasantly pleased with the price of parts for the bike versus the car, ha ha.

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  8. #8

    Our Starting Point, Initial Pictures

    I figured out how to post some pictures so I thought I would post some so we all know our starting place. I actually have purchased two bikes with Josh's guidance. One is Foundation bike as I call it, the bike that we will use as the maine bike to build upon, the other bike is a Parts Bike. The Parts bike cost me $600 and the Foundation bike cost me $400, go figure, what a steal. Hope you guys agree. We will be making once complete bike from the two. Other extra parts will be sold along the way.

    This is the Foundation Bike,

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  9. #9

    Parts Bike

    Here is the Parts Bike, it was a funny story, Josh was picking up the parts bike from the seller, loading it into his vehicle (see below) and a car pulled up and this guy yelled out the window "is that a R75/5 BMW?", Josh said "It sure is", he said "Do you want to buy another?", Josh said sure, loaded the parts bike up and then this other guy took Josh to see what would turn out to be our Foundation bike, Josh says it was destiny. What are the chances? The guy we purchased this parts bike from was was Jim Fixel for Reedley, California.

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    Last edited by balkowitsch; 03-15-2011 at 01:02 PM.

  10. #10

    Hiding Battery Behind Sear Cowl

    Craig Schmidt from Fiberglass Specialites is fabricating a seat cowl for the bike. We will be able to hide the battery under the seat which is pretty cool, "less is more".

    He is also doing our front fender for us. He was aware of Josh and his bike before we contacted him so he is being so kind to give these parts for my bike extra attention.

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  11. #11

    We Got a Title

    Josh pushed the bike 1.4 miles to the local Police Station and the officer approved the bike and the title. I told Josh, don't go for his gun, they kind of frown upon that, no sense of humor and he did not make a move for the officers weapon as instructted, and I really think that sealed the deal and allowed us to get the title clearance.

    So all systems are go!


  12. #12

    No New News

    Josh is putting together a Shopping List for things we need for the bike, I will share are we go forward. My wife Bonnie and I are expecting our 3rd child on Friday, it is a girl, so things like bikes and cars are going on the back burner for a bit, we are very excited.

    Thanks for following,

  13. #13

    The Bike is Titled

    I have exciting news, the DMV sent Josh the title today for my bike, so now we can begin the work. But definately more important and more exciting was last week Friday Bonnie my wife and I had another daughter, her name is Alyvia, and I just have to post a picture for all you German bike guys! She was 7 pounds 9 Ounces and as you can imagine, my mind has been focused on the most important task any of us with every have, fatherhood!

    Thanks for following, I promise some pictures and information soon. Josh has put together a long parts list for me to purchase and I will be getting started on that next week, but for now, I have a poopy diaper to change.

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    Last edited by balkowitsch; 04-17-2011 at 12:44 AM.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Northern Front Range, CO
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  15. #15

    Ordered Some Parts

    Ordered some parts for the build today, some handlebars from Mikes XS, some rear view mirror and adapters from the Motorcycle Superstore and a chrome headlight ring from Max. Just scraping the surface in regards to what we need to order, but just getting a few easy things out of the way. Hope everyone has a great Easter.

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