The world's best BMW Cafe Racers

The German company BMW Motorrad built its first motorcycle, the R32, in 1923. Powered by a 494cc flat-twin boxer the R32's horizontally opposed engine configuration became an iconic feature of BMW motorcycles throughout their history. In later years they also developed the flat-four engine used in models like the K100. This engine was coined the 'flying brick' due to its bulky appearance. Despite its unfortunate nickname the flat-four still the level of performance that earned BMW their well-respected reputation.

Older BMW "airhead" boxer twins and R series models are popular choices for BMW cafe racer projects. With some models featuring bolt-on subframes and others sporting aluminum fuel tanks, choosing a BMW as the donor for your project has its benefits. In more recent years BMW has embraced the custom scene by creating the R Nine T. The BMW R9T was designed and built specifically with customization in mind.

In our archives, you'll find countless BMW cafe racer features that are a great source of inspiration and tips for anyone hoping to build their own.
Return of the Cafe Racers - Blue Fix – Sinroja R19 BMW R80/7

Blue Fix – Sinroja R19 BMW R80/7

Customer requests and customer needs are two very different things. UK’s Sinroja Motorcycles are always happy to oblige with customer requests. However, they’re also very familiar with the challenges of bike building. Many jobs that start out as a single task on a customers personal project end up becoming a complete in-house…

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Return of the Cafe Racers - RetroRides K100 Cafe Racer

RetroRides K100 Cafe Racer

Brazillian workshop Retrorides is the result of forty years of hard work by two generations of the Lourenço family. Nestled a couple of hours out of São Paulo in the town of Campinas, Gustavo, Rodrigo and their father José make all sorts of magic out of old motorcycles and cars. And every…

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Return of the Cafe Racers - Golden Touch – Cognito BMW R75/5

Golden Touch – Cognito BMW R75/5

Of all the boxers the BMW R75/5 models with the “toaster” tank are a firm favourite. They are less angular and sharp compared to their more modern brethren. I love the classic silhouette, the alloy airbox and the early-style rocker covers. I certainly don’t consider myself a purist anorak but I do…

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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 tough and ready for action. And none come tougher than this — a BMW R100GS that draws inspiration from German…

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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 a high, upright riding position. Cafe Racers are typically low, streamlined machines that place the rider in an aggressive over…

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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 pair are high school friends who went on to study as coachbuilders and share a passion for customising motorcycles. They…

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Return of the Cafe Racers - Sunday Screening – Cognito BMW R75 Build

Sunday Screening – Cognito BMW R75 Build

Our friends over at Cognito Moto have been toiling away on their latest custom BMW R75 project. The project was completed in a super fast 6 week turn around in order to showcase it at the 2019 EuroBike Raleigh. To share the process they documented the entire build on their Youtube channel.…

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Return of the Cafe Racers - Transforming a Tourer – Si Mantas R1200RT

Transforming a Tourer – Si Mantas R1200RT

In full dress, the BMW R1200RT tips the scales at hefty 259kg. This is by no means an ideal starting point for any cafe racer build. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done though. With a 110 bhp, 120Nm Boxer protruding from its frame the R1200RT packs plenty of punch. However, it…

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Return of the Cafe Racers - Bigger Badder Beemer – Gallows Garage K120

Bigger Badder Beemer – Gallows Garage K120

Perth’s Kaylan Galloway is a guy who likes to do things the hard way. Probably because he can. A welder by trade, he is a one-man band on a mission. Being a long time BMW K-series fan this bike, a BMW K100 based cafe racer, is his second. The first was a…

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Return of the Cafe Racers - Chop Talk – Revival Cycles BMW R18

Chop Talk – Revival Cycles BMW R18

The Katze is finally out of the Tasche. BMW Motorrad has unveiled its highly anticipated R18 concept. As we all suspected they dropped that massive new 1800cc boxer twin into a cruiser platform and it’s a stunning blend of modern engineering and classic BMW styling. The lead up to the release of…

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Return of the Cafe Racers - Dynamite – Unikat BMW K1100LT

Dynamite – Unikat BMW K1100LT

Mentioning Grand Tourer and cafe racer in the same sentence isn’t something you’ll see me do often. That’s because bikes that are inherently heavy, such as tourers, are generally deemed too big to be suitable donors for cafe racer builds. If you strip away the excess on most tourers you’re still left…

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