Trust is one of the biggest hurdles for any business. But once it is achieved, success will follow.
After amassing a portfolio that exceeds 300 custom motorcycles, Tanadit Sarawek and his team at K-Speed in Thailand have well and truly earned the trust of the custom motorcycle community. In fact, K-Speed’s reputation is so highly regarded that customers are happy to leave the entire design process in their capable hands.
A 1994 BMW K1100LT isn’t an easy motorcycle to come by in Thailand. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive model in BMW’s range. The luxury tourer was also the first model to combine a 4V inline-four with BMW’s paralever rear end. As the successor to the original ‘flying brick’, the K100, the K1100LT had several improvements over the outgoing model, including a larger displacement engine. The difference in cubic centimetres (1092 cc vs 987 cc) resulted in a 101hp and 107Nm performance package that more than satisfied the market’s desire for power.
The K1100LT fell into the same class as Honda’s Goldwing and Harley’s Ultra Glide but it was the featherweight of the bunch. BMW achieved this by shrinking storage space and dispensing with hefty accessories like cruise control, a flashy stereo and an intercom system. In fact, at 290kg, the K1100LT wasn’t all that heavier than most sports tourers.
Despite its rarity in Thailand, the owner of this BMW K1100LT managed to attain all the relevant documents to get the bike fully licensed. But rather than leaving it in its original touring configuration, he wanted something more stimulating. So he met with Tanadit at K-SPeed HQ and handed over the keys with the simple request of transforming the bike into a K-Speed style BMW cafe racer.
In order to turn any tourer into a cafe racer, you’ll need to remove a LOT of excess. The obvious place to start is with the bodywork and that’s exactly what K-Speed have done here. From the fenders to the full front fairing, tail unit, lighting and hard panniers, everything that BMW bolted to this K1100LT in the factory has been dispensed with. The only exception K-Speed made was with the fuel tank.
Along with having the right lines for a cafe racer the K1100LT fuel tank, like many BMW motorcycles, is made from lightweight aluminium. So swapping it out for something else was deemed unnecessary. With all the redundant bodywork out of the way, K-Speed turned its attention to the chassis.
To allow for the installation of a wasps tail style rear-end, the stock subframe had to be cut away. In its place, K-Speed has mounted a custom assembly with a slight upward kick to accentuate the bike’s aggressive new styling. While designing the revised subframe K-Speed added a new mount for the mono-shock suspension too. Joining the frame to the paralever swingarm is a shorter blacked-out YSS mono-shock they’d earmarked for the job.
With the goal of achieving a spartan aesthetic, Tandit stipulated that the triangle of the subframe should remain open. This meant the K-Speed crew had to find new homes or alternative solutions for everything the space previously housed. For the airbox, which occupied most of that space, they opted to do away with it altogether. Replacing it is a set of mesh screened velocity stacks sitting on custom made intakes.
Alongside the intakes beneath the fuel tank is an inconspicuous black box. Within it is the bike’s electrical components and the heavily revised wiring. Another black box sitting above the swingarm pivot contains the battery.
To help keep the rear end ultra-clean the brake light has been moved to the swingarm and the tiny LED turn signals sit low on either side of the rear wheel. The black leather seat recreates the look of a hard rear cowl. The new seat bears Diablo branding which is K-Speed’s own line of aftermarket parts. There are, of course, plenty of other examples from their catalogue here too.
Black clearly played a big role in this build, as it does on most K-Speed projects. Everything on the bike has either been resprayed in black or was chosen due to its black finish. As you’d expect many of the parts found in the Diablo catalogue are available in a black finish. So this BMW wears a black Diablo muffler, LED turn signals, fluid reservoirs and grips to name just a few.
To complete the cafe racer conversion K-Speed handpicked a selection of aftermarket parts from other suppliers too. Sitting atop the triple clamp you’ll find a Daytona speedometer. The headlight is an aftermarket LED unit housed in a black shell and there are black billet rear sets for a sportier riding position. Clip-on handlebars hang off each of the fork legs and they wear tiny switch blocks and black billet levers.
Although they wouldn’t be our first choice, K-Speed has wrapped the blacked-out factory rims in old school Firestone Champion Deluxe rubber. Despite their performance shortcomings, there’s no denying they have the correct proportions for this beast of a bike.
Taking around 6 months to complete among their other projects, the result of this project was well worth the effort. And according to Tanadit, the bike performs suitably too. “From a large touring motorcycle to a slimmer cafe racer, it is significantly more agile,” he says. With the bodywork gone, the frame trimmed and every inch of excess dispensed with, this BMW K1100LT is a superb example of how to turn a behemoth tourer into a bare bones cafe racer.
Was the customer happy with the result? We’ll let you be the judge of that.