As often as people hack “cafe racers” together these days, it’s surprising how often such a simple idea goes wrong. In an era when the aftermarket was in its infancy, and not much was available to increase the speed of your bike, or to make it look more like the bikes your idols were racing, you often took things off your motorcycle.
To go faster, simplify and add lightness.
And while the original “Ton-Up Boys” built their bikes for speed, current café racers are, let’s face it, more concerned with image than outright performance. If you want to go fast and don’t have much cash or have a do-it-yourself mentality, you’re much better off buying a well-used GSX-R and thrashing the hell out of it on road or track.
So bikes like this are really about owning a cool old bike that looks and sounds right, that mixes vintage feel with some modern concessions to function: clip on bars halfway between the top and bottom triple may look pretty tough, but who the hell wants to ride that?
This bike though, gets things mostly very, very right, with very classy ivory white paint and a and I’m not sure that classic half-fairing has ever looked so right on a motorcycle. This is based on either the R100/7 or the sportier R100S, although the ad doesn’t specify. Both were powered by BMW’s sporty, reliable 980cc horizontally-opposed twin that was flexible and basically vice-free.
If you’re building a bike to meet those criteria, the BMW “airhead” models are the perfect foundation: they’re mostly very affordable, much more reliable than a British twin, parts are readily available, they handle well for a classic machine and, maybe most importantly, supply a classic look and feel of a big twin clattering away beneath you.
From the original eBay listing: 1980 BMW R100 Café Racer
Turn-key bike, ready to ride now, and was just serviced by licensed BMW dealer. Very nimble and fun to ride, and has great visual presence.
Bike starts up easily, runs well, and sounds awesome.
Prior owner did the following work:
- Ivory White paint with black pin striping, 3-4 coats of two-part clear coat.
- New BMW badges for tank.
- SuperTrapp Dual Exhaust, tremendous sound, clean, no rust.
- Original seat pan, with custom shaped and covered seat done professionally, with brushed aluminum trim kit.
- Cafe Racer Half fairing (small crack at bottom, barely visible).
- Windscreen by Zero Gravity.
- Clip-on bars.
- New rubber grips.
- New rear tire, front has 80% + tread.
- Valves and end play adjusted.
- Forks cleaned, lubed, and rebuilt.
- New Transmission fluid, brake fluid.
- Splines lubed.
- New oil and oil filter, along with oil pan gasket and valve cover gaskets.
- Bike has Mikuni carb upgrade.
- Bike is gorgeous, but this is not a concourse example.
- Mileage is in my opinion greater than that reflected on odometer.
If you can sit through the overproduced, Ken Burns-style slideshow [or just skip it], there’s some good riding footage of the bike in there to give you a feel for the bike’s character:
If you’re building a bike that needs to be ridden every day, sound good, and look right, the BMW “airhead” models are the perfect foundation: they’re mostly very affordable, much more reliable than a British twin, parts are readily available, they handle well for a classic machine and, maybe most importantly, supply a classic look and feel of a big twin clattering away beneath you.
Aside from the plastic bezels and dash sourced from the original bike and those slightly questionable “BMW R100” badges, I really like this bike, and I think it would make a great daily-rider. Bidding is active on this one, but at just $4,050 and with The Reserve Not Met, I think this one has a ways to go, since a bone-stock example would likely fetch that.