Lucky for One – BMW R80 Cafe Racer
Everyone wants to be remembered for something. For Portugal’s it roCkS!bikes that something is great looking, monocoque bodied custom motorcycles. Run by Osvaldo Coutinho and Alexandre Santos, a pair of motorcycle obsessed engineers, it roCkS!bikes has built a reputation that has earned them a place as one of Yamaha’s invited Yardbuilt builders, joining the ranks of Shinya Kimura and the Wrenchmonkees. Along with their fascination with motorcycles IRB (it roCkS!bikes) also happen to be café racer aficionados using the classic style as inspiration for most of their builds.
“We like them clean, simple, elegant and fast!” says Alexandre and it’s evident in their latest build, a BMW R80 cafe racer they call, ‘Thirteen’. Thirteen started its life as a tired dual-sport R80 delivered to the IRB workshop by its owner. As with each of their builds, Alexandre and Osvaldo kicked the project off by sketching out a concept which their client enthusiastically approved. After the initial teardown, the project began with a full engine overhaul to satisfy their “fast” prerequisite.
To increase capacity from 800 to 1000cc the airheads factory jugs have been swapped out with aftermarket items wearing retro head covers for vintage good looks. With the removal of the factory airbox, the carbs have been retuned to suit a pair of free-flowing pod filters. The beautifully simple 2-into-2 exhaust, designed and built in-house, adds even more grunt while it’s angular design adds a good dose of implied speed. With the engine working harder IRB took precautions to keep it reliable, installing a small oil cooler up front. Finally, an aluminum engine cover was placed where the airbox previously sat and everything was finished in fresh paint.
An increase in power is pointless without the handling to back it up. So, to ensure their BMW R80 was up to the task, IRB custom fit the paralever swingarm from a BMW R1100 RS. With the installation of the new swingarm came a significant brake upgrade thanks to the R1100’s disc brake and handling was also hopped up by retrofitting its mono-shock to the frame. To round things out they then fit a set of Yamaha R1 forks, discs and calipers up front. For the perfect cafe racer stance, the BMW now rolls on a pair of 17-inch wheels that are anchored to the road by Pirelli Angel GT rubber.
Thirteen’s bodywork follows suit with the IRB trademark monocoque style. The beautifully simple, single piece body has been meticulously handcrafted from aluminium sheet. Sitting over the rails of the frame the monocoque body creates the impression it’s carefully balanced on the BMW chassis and drastically reduces visual clutter. For additional implied speed, the bikes bone line now tapers slightly upward to create a subtly aggressive stance. Knee dents and a Monza style filler on the tank recall their beloved café racer theme while a pair of recessed round LED taillights adds a touch of modern tech.
Early eighties electrics no longer play a part in Thirteens operation. Instead, an assortment of Motogadget gear including an M-unit V.2, M-lock keyless ignition, M-blaze turn signals and an all bells and whistles Motoscope pro dash sitting in a CNC machined IRB bracket handle the task. For a more purposeful, cafe racer style riding position the R80’s dual-sport handlebars have been replaced with clip-on items wearing Motogadget grips and LSL rear sets reposition the rider’s feet.
To finish the BMW R90 cafe racer off Alexandre and Osvaldo laid a base coat of silver over the aluminium bodywork before airbrushing a single red racing stripe down its side. Cleverly they utilized the effects of light and shade to alter the racing stripes appearance. An angular edge in the body that runs the length of the stripe gives it a two-tone appearance that changes in different lighting conditions. It’s a subtle touch that shows just how much thought goes into each of their builds and another reason why it roCksS!bikes always end up on the pages of this site.
Photography by Rui Bandeira Fotografia
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