fbpx
Return of the Cafe Racers - Green with Envy – Vanity BMW R80RT

Green with Envy – Vanity BMW R80RT

I’ve seen enough BMW cafe racer builds to last a lifetime. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see any more of them. I just want to know that when one appears on these pages it’s done right. Take for instance the work of Pete Hodson from Side Rock Cycles in the United Kingdom. He’s a seasoned racer and custom motorcycle builder who takes his creations to the track where they have to perform. This bike, his BMW R80RT nicknamed ‘Vanity’ is no exception. I recently spoke with Pete to get the low down on his bright green purpose-built Beemer.

BMW R80 Cafe Racer

“I’ve been in the motorcycle and automotive game since the mid-seventies, road raced successfully for around ten years and have competed in Trials and Enduro events,” says Pete. “This 1979 BMW R80RT was built for classic motorcycle racing track days and to be a rolling Side Rock Cycles portfolio piece.”

“The BMW was essentially built for me. It features lots of quality parts to enhance both the performance and aesthetics of the bike. As is the standard approach with all Side Rock Cycles builds, the R80RT project began with a strip down. Once it was out of the frame we upgraded the engine by installing high compression pistons and a 1000cc Siebenrock performance kit. Additionally, we bolted a pair of 34mm Mikuni carbs to the heads, fitted a fresh timing chain kit, clutch, a lighter, gruntier starter, seals and bearings.

With the engine ready to race the frame and swinging arm were de-tabbed, blasted and powder coated satin black. To revise the rear end we fit a lightweight SRC subframe and a classic cafe racer style wasps tail cowl and saddle. The suspension has been overhauled using fully adjustable ‘piggyback’ shocks and we upgraded the fork internals with Progressive springs. Stopping power has also been upgraded by refurbishing the Brembo callipers with fresh seals, sintered pads and stainless hoses. Now the old girl stops as good as she handles!

Our ‘lighter and cleaner’ approach with this project included significant work on the bikes 40-year-old German electrics. We ditched the original switchgear in favour of Motogadget items. Likewise, the instruments were replaced by an Acewell speedo/tacho unit. Oberon LED indicators sit in the bar ends and below the tail and an LED brake light saves additional weight. All these are controlled by a Motogadget M-unit that’s hooked up using a custom wiring loom.

BMW R80 Cafe Racer

The smaller, lightweight, aluminium fuel tank was made to enhance the sleek look of our BMW cafe racer. The original paint scheme for Vanity was candy apple green with carbon inlays and some bare polished alloy. To save additional pounds we used carbon for the rims, headlamp shell and engine top cover. The worst part of this build was the late discovery of a tiny pinprick hole in the alloy tank which quickly ruined the paintwork. It had just been finished and we were exhibiting at the Bike Shed show in London so this was less than ideal. After the show, it was stripped back again, welded up and repainted.

Recently, I decided I wanted to change the colour again to a Lamborghini orange with a touch of metal flake. At the same time, a brown ‘new Delhi’ leather seat was made and a higher ratio rear diff fitted to stop it from ‘maxing out’ at the track. The best thing about this build is its awesome performance and handling. Due to the dramatic weight loss and performance parts fitted Vanity often surprises other riders out on the track.”

SIDE ROCK CYCLES

BMW R80 Cafe Racer

Read more like this

Return of the Cafe Racers - TIGER’S TALE – Titanium BMW R100GS

TIGER’S TALE – Titanium BMW R100GS

Twin Shock Division (TSD) Motorcycles is a tiny shop located in the Ukranian capital of Kiev. Headed by the talented Sawa Medvetskiy, they specialise in intricate, tessellating bodywork that’s designed to look…

Continue Reading
Return of the Cafe Racers - No Bull – Lucky Customs BMW R1100 S

No Bull – Lucky Customs BMW R1100 S

If you’re considering attempting to turn any kind of tourer into a cafe racer you’re going to have your work cut out for you. Tourers stand tall. They feature jacked-up suspension and…

Continue Reading
Return of the Cafe Racers - Modern Heritage – Road Burner BMW R80

Modern Heritage – Road Burner BMW R80

Two motorcycle obsessed friends building bikes for a living. It sounds like the perfect life to be living. This is the work environment of Cédric and Ludovic of Road Burner Garage. The…

Continue Reading