Return of the Cafe Racers - Valtoron La Bulla BMW K1600

Valtoron La Bulla BMW K1600

It’s not often we see big touring bikes being given the custom treatment. There’s been a handful of Honda Goldwings appear on these pages in the past, but this is most certainly the first BMW K1600 I’ve ever featured. The K1600 is what BMW refers to as a “high-class tourer”. On the BMW Motorrad website they use phrases like “maximum riding pleasure” and “luxury freed of ballast”, but beneath all that ergonomic excess and load-bearing bodywork (capable carrying half a ton of passengers and gear!) is a beast of a bike. It took one visionary rider and one incredibly talented custom workshop to release the beast within the K1600 and the result is what they call “La Bulla”. That workshop was, of course, the studio/foundry of the Delgado brothers who own and operate Valtoron Motorcycles in Madrid, Spain.

“We had never transformed a bike with such complex technology before!” Along with having to deal with the bikes modern electronics the Delgado brothers also had the challenge of ensuring the bike would comply with the strict TÜV specifications so that it’s owner could legally ride it around his home and neighbouring European countries. “We had to keep the original petrol tank and airbox which introduced certain limitations when modelling the new bodywork. The electronics was another of the difficulties encountered since original components such as the instrumentation and switch assemblies have sensors that perform diagnostic checks necessary for the bike to run.”

At the core of the BMW K1600 is a 4 stroke, oil and water-cooled, inline 6 cylinder, German designed and made engine. With 160bhp on tap it’s more than capable of clocking up speeds in excess of 200kmh, but it’s fully fueled (unladen) weight of almost 350kg wasn’t working in its favour. The owner of the BMW K1600 wanted exhilaration so a serious diet was in order. This basically meant all of that excessive storage space, passenger room and “luxury” would have to go.

Carlos and Pablo began the La Bulla project 12 months ago when their customer came to them with the BMW K1600. “He gave us carte blanche for the design of the bodywork, but he already had some ideas for other aspects of the build. He wanted us to transform the BMW into a single-seat bike and for the exhaust to exit through six holes located in the tail section, leaving the rear wheel exposed. He also wanted an LED light system and was determined for us to improve the wheel and braking system”.

The brothers began the huge task of creating the bodywork by carving a clay prototype straight onto the stripped-down bike with the help of their good friend, sculptor and artist Raphael Muyor. With the client happy with the design they then set about sand casting each individual part from 100% recycled aluminium before welding them together into the least number of body panel possible. A select few parts such as tank badges and the exhaust vents were also cast from bronze and given an aged appearance to add visual detail.

Shedding as much weight as possible from the bike was a priority. With all of the bulky factory bodywork replaced with lightweight alloy, the brothers continued to shed kilos from the BMW by introducing carbon fibre elements. Tank and tail covers, the front fender and the entire belly pan were all constructed from carbon fibre and a set of BST carbon wheels with Swedish made ISR brakes were added to meet the owners upgrade requests. Exhaust specialists HATTECH then constructed the complex exhaust system that merges all 6 headers into the tail section and by all reports the bike sounds and performs amazingly.

With La Bulla complete (aside from the exhaust which was later fit in Germany) its owner came to the Valtoron workshop one last time to collect his one of a kind K1600 and ride it home. Home however, was 2330km away from Madrid in Germany so over the following 6 days he gave La Bulla the ultimate shakedown ride. Crossing through Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and into Germany he made it back without a hiccup. If that’s not a testament to a well-made custom I don’t know what is.

VALTORON MOTORCYCLES

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