Baby Beemers 1982 BMW R65
Bantamweight Beemer punches above its weight.
If there is one theme common to most modern styles of custom bikes – be they bobbers, café racers, streetfighters or trackers – it is that less is more. Complexity sucks, simplicity rules. Remove all the unnecessary stuff to unleash the beauty hidden within.
For Liam Butler of Newcastle NSW workshop Butler’s Customs and Café Racers, it’s a mantra that guides everything he does, and it works especially well on this recently completed 1982 BMW R65. Released in the late 1970s, the R65 was itself a smaller, lighter, simpler version of the BMW /7 airheads sold alongside it, so is an especially apt model for modification.
“I was inspired to build an R65 that was unlike anything I’d seen before,” Liam says. “All the other BMWs of the same build style have spoked wheels or powder-coated mags, so I polished the wheels to do something different. They all had round café racer fairings but that didn’t work for me either. The tank is so square it had to have a similar-shaped fairing to match. And the colour I had in mind was so in-your-face, it had to have as many polished parts as possible without going over the top. So a huge thanks to the owner Claude for the opportunity to build a one-of-a-kind BMW however I wanted with total free reign.”
Aftermarket parts are few and far between on this build. Instead it is a great example of modifying what you already have. Customise, don’t accessorise, as one feature bike owner put it last issue.
The chassis has been aggressively modified here, with the entire seat sub-frame binned and an elegant but minimal seat loop fabricated in its place. The uber-clean look of the rear end has been highlighted by moving the top shock mounts well forward, the shocks themselves YSS units longer than standard to maintain ride height. Liam also fabricated a stainless-steel support for the floating rear mudguard and numberplate holder, the mudguard (like the one up front)hand-rolled on an English wheel. And if you’re wondering where the taillight is, take a close look at rear frame hoop; Liam custom-made that too, including the taillight’s internals.
The front end is stock, albeit refinished for a custom look: the handlebar mounts on the top triple clamp were milled off and the clamp highly polished for a billet look, contrasted by a race-style starter button. Ditto the polished fork sliders, with the side reflectors replaced with aluminium plates machined to match the engine fins. Chrome clip-ons carry new controls, switches and rear-view mirrors in largely stock style, to match the standard footpegs which have been sandblasted, repaintedand fitted with new rubbers. Front brake calipers were also refurbished along with new brake lines. A simple digital speedo comprises the dash, shielded by a small fairing (from an unidentified dirt bike) which also houses an LED headlight.
The engine and transmission are stock as a rock apart from Akrapovic mufflers on standard headers. Liam did however overhaul the carburettors and rewire the bike from top to toe, the latter reflecting his initial trade as an auto electricianbefore moving into automotive fabrication. The battery box was also custom-made to take a larger battery for easy starting.
Apart from the tough stance and clean lines, it’s the all-important final finish which sets this bike apart. “The wheels were paint-stripped, sand-blasted then hand-polished to a mirror finish” before being fitted with high-profile Shinko tyres, Liam says, with special thanks going to his better half Sharna for getting her hands dirty on this one. Especially nice touches on the fuel tank are custom tank badges and a flush-mount pop-up filler cap TIG-welded into place before everything was prepped for paint. The striking colour is a custom House of Kolor candy apple red over a silver base coat, extended here to the frame, swingarm, mudguards, fairing and carburettor tops.
Owner Claude is stoked with the result– just as he was with the CB550 built for him previously – and has already commissioned what will be his third build from Butler’s workshop. “It’s always worth the effort,” I’m obsessed with what I do.”