23 apr (English) BMW K75 Caferacer
Special build deserves a special writing! So here is the build from the owner’s perspective: The fun of building our BMW K75
When I started my search for a custom bike builder in The Netherlands I had some high demands. I have a background in Product Design so to me the shape of a product is something very delicate. Intriguing as well. Regardless if it’s a backpack, a chair, or a bicycle, when a product catches my eye I just have to take a closer look. I think it’s the never-ending battle between form and function that gets me excited. On both sides only the strongest elements survive, and together they shape the product. To me, there is one particular product that represents this battle between form and function best, the motorbike. A compact streamlined agile body wrapped around a powerful core, love it!
To bring my dream-bike to life, I was looking for someone who would not only understand my ideas but who would challenge me as well. When I met Daan Borsje from Moto Adonis, I knew I’d completed my quest with succes. This guy, almost twice my size and with the most generous smile, invited me into his warehouse. Amidst a variation of disassembled and beautifully finished custom bikes, we talked about the art of riding, and building. I noticed Daan is a sharp-minded fellow who has an impressive know-how about motorbikes. Which is nice to know when you’re about to spend your savings on a custom bike project. Flipping through books on an old Chesterfield couch and with a nice cup of coffee we extracted my wishes and ideas. After talking about the different types of bikes we could take on, we decided to go for a BMW K75. At first sight it’s not the prettiest of bikes. It clearly hasn’t got the classic looks of the air-cooled BMW R-series which are so popular these days. And it’s not as sleek as a Japanese motorbike. But there’s one particular element about the bike that made us smile, the chunky square shaped engine. No wonder the first K-series were nicknamed ‘the Flying Brick’.
So after buying a brick on wheels from 1987 it was time to strip her down and see what’s beneath her plastic skirts. It revealed a sturdy frame with a crooked line beneath the seat. Smoothing it down was a no-brainer as it would interrupt the streamline we were going for. I’m not a hardcore technical guy, so when I started to draw my bike around the basics, I didn’t consider too many technical restrictions. I was more like, let’s take out all these bulky things, accentuate the straight horizontal lines and let Daan worry about how to make it happen. It allowed me to clean up the looks of the bike while adding some sexy detailing.
When I bought the bike it had the typical big aluminium cast rims, which makes this bulky bike with the big square engine look even bulkier. To accentuate the racing looks Daan and I decided to swap ‘em for spoked wheels. Obviously the big buddy seat needed to go as well. Same thing with the head- and taillight, the fenders, front suspension, handlebar and exhaust pipe. It all felt outdated and would not help the looks we were going for. One must-have for me was to have the triangle beneath the seat to be free from any clutter. I’d seen it on other bikes and it really helps the design to ‘breathe’. It also makes the engine stand out more, which is exactly what we wanted with this big chunk of power. The addition of the fairing was the final step within the general changes that took place to change the looks from dull to daring.
When I’d put all of the ideas Daan and I had into my drawings, something was still missing. It was the typical horizontal line which divides a sleek bike into the upper side with the gas tank and seat and the underside with the engine and wheels. We needed this line to streamline the bike and to tidy it up. The original K75’s gas tank has a very angular underside which you normally don’t see as it’s covered with plastic panels. We’d got rid of all of these plastic panels so what to do? This jagged shape was something that wasn’t easy to work around. I suggested using a R100 gas tank but it turned out it was too narrow to fit on the K75’s broad frame. At last, Daan came up with a brilliant suggestion. Instead of the stripping and cutting we had put the bike through up until this point, he suggested to extend the K75’s gas tank. To me if sounded like going to the hairdresser and asking him to cut your hair longer. But I eagerly accepted his proposal, as Daan would be the one to make this work, not me. And this is exactly where Daan’s talent of exceeding his clients expectations stands out. After a week or so he sends me a picture of a smooth streamlined straight-cut and sexy as hell gas tank. He really blew me away here!
With the gas tank all sorted out and in place it was time to get into the details. As the bike’s basics got more modern, so should the lighting. Daan showed me a new type of headlight that had just come out. With a LED halo and four lamps. A no brainer, got to have it. Next I suggested the MotoGadget handle bar blinkers, their modern and refined look sets them apart from anything else that’s on the market. Last but not least we needed to find something for the taillight. A LED strip seemed like a decent solution. But hey, we’re going for something special here. With such a unique gas tank, the rest of the bike needs to approach this level of finesse. Again Daan surprised me with a bright idea. Cutting round holes in the back of the seat would allow him to insert tail lights with integrated blinkers. He would ‘only’ need to figure out how to stitch up the seat around the lights. Again, not my problem. So we went for the ‘eyes in the back’ which turned out to be a hell of a job for Daan, but again he did not let down. The tail lights look fierce like snake eyes!
Whilst Daan was working his magic on the different stages of building the bike, I experimented a lot with colour schemes. In the end I decided to go for black and yellow. To me these colours represent a deep rooted warning from mother nature. Snakes, bees, caterpillars and frogs that wear these colours are not to messed with. It felt only logic to add this colour scheme to my bike. It’s light, it’s fast and it’s agressive. Reminds me of some famous words: floats like a butterfly but stings like a bee…mer.
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About the process:
To be honest, I didn’t expect the process to be this much fun. I also didn’t think my ideas could literally be turned into reality. When I look back at my original drawings I’m stunned by the resemblance of the bike in reality. On top of this, some details I couldn’t have dreamed up myself.
So, to me, this bike is not something any custom builder could have done. Sure, stripping it down, building it up, there’s more guys that could’ve done the job. But reshaping the gas tank like this, thinking along with me on the design all the way from beginning to end. And going the extra mile without me even asking, just to make it perfect, makes Daan a very passionate, reliable, intelligent and creative builder. Oh and did I mention he’s A LOT of fun to hang out with?
Philip van Gelder