Eastern Spirit Garage is probably Poland’s premier custom workshop. But they focus on quality over quantity, with fewer than a dozen builds over the last seven years.
It’s not your typical R-series custom, and despite the sleek finish and perfect stance, Sylwester admits that it was a struggle.
“This was by far the hardest project I have ever undertaken,” he tells us. And that wasn’t just down to the huge amount of work involved in the build— Sylwester was beset with personal relationship issues too, which almost derailed the project.
On a brighter note, the R80 was commissioned by a petrolhead car and bike collector from Warsaw called Marcin. But the 1993 donor bike was far from complete: “I got the BMW in boxes—it was missing quite a few parts,” says Sylwester.
“Marcin wanted a cafe racer style bike, and basically gave me a free hand—bearing in mind that he is two meters (6’5”) tall! He also wanted a removable set of fairings, and a spare tail unit to be able to carry a passenger.”
These days, most ‘café’ style BMW airheads are rather chunky and ‘upright,’ retaining the stock tank and playing up the somewhat stocky nature of the original design.
Sylwester has gone for a much sportier look, with sleek bodywork and a long, low tank that completely eschews the design cues of the late 70s original. It meant he had to acquaint himself with traditional coachbuilding and metalworking skills.
“The bike opened up a new adventure for me,” he says. “All the bodywork, including the tank and the fairing, was hand-wheeled from sheets of aluminum.”
All the fairings are removable without any fancy tools, and they’re mounted independently, too—so you can even opt for a half-faired setup. “It’s fast and efficient,” says Sylwester.
The cockpit is all-new, although the handlebars are off the shelf and Sylwester can’t remember where he got them from.
“Hard to say—I bought them a long time ago, and they just fitted!” The bars are kitted out with new grips and switchgear, and discreet LED blinkers. The speedo is a tiny circular Daytona instrument.
The tank not only holds fuel, but also conceals a cargo space underneath. Sylwester has used this to hide the Lithium-ion battery, brake master cylinder, and large sections of the all-new wiring loom.
You don’t often see classic airheads with a flowing, faired style like this, but the fairing still reveals most of the engine—so it’s recognizably a BMW. The 797cc boxer motor has been thoroughly overhauled with fresh gaskets, new bearings, and a new custom-made starter cover.
Sylwester has ditched the stock Bing carbs and fitted aftermarket Mikunis for better breathing, and he’s also crafted a complete custom exhaust with the right-hand pipe snaking under the swingarm to join its twin. The dB killers are hidden in the flared mufflers, which exit to the left of the back wheel.
With all this fine custom handiwork going on, including new rearsets and linkages, it’s almost possible to miss the biggest mechanical change—a set of Suzuki GSX-R1000 forks.
They’re from a 2002 Gixxer, with internals adjusted to account for the slightly higher weight of the R80. Sylwester has retained the bottom fork clamp, but machined a new top clamp to fit the BMW.
He’s taken the front brake calipers from the GSX-R too, but matched them to discs from a 2009 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. The original BMW wheels were slightly modified to fit, and refinished with deep gold paint—the only splash of color on the bike aside from the forks.
At the back is an ultra-clean new subframe, connected to the Monolever swingarm with a new YSS shock. Right above is a plush suede seat and a classic humped café racer tail unit, and if you look closely, you’ll notice a tire-hugging rear fender. This cleverly conceals a very discreet LED light strip at its rearmost point.
The subframe also includes mounting points for passenger pegs, and the seat can be swapped out for a two-up setup in minutes.
It’s obvious from our conversations that this build took a lot out of Sylwester. But it was worth it—because it’s not only a story of triumph over adversity, but also a refreshing new take on the well-worn custom airhead genre.
Published at Fri, 05 Jun 2020 17:01:28 +0000