Sunday, 29 August 2010

It's August, which means that there are social events to attend, the local bike show to go to, and Trev's Seat Toledo to weld up.

The upshot of all that is that I'm usually busy and towards the end of the month, quite tired. So busy and so tired that I haven't had time to get anything done on the BMW, although I think I have decided what I'm doing with the frame.

In the light of all that, and working on the, not entirely unwarranted, assumption that anyone who takes the trouble to read this has at least a passing interest in things relating to café racers and BMWs, I thought that a wander around some of the web sites that I discovered whilst stealing ideas, sorry, "researching", BMW cafe racers on the Internet might be an idea. Had the project followed the original "unbolt some stuff, bolt some other stuff on" premise, then that would have made it simply a procession of adverts for commercial sites that I'd bought my bolt on stuff from. Since, as is the wont of the plans laid by mice and men, that all went wildly awry, then I feel quite comfortable with the idea.

Firstly, there's the TI Boxer. The name is a little deceiving because it's not a titanium BMW, but the Team Incomplete BMW built by Gregor Halenda and friends. There's a pretty good account of the build on the web page, with plenty of explanation of the frame mods, and a wiring diagram. If you've never even seen a picture this motorcycle in passing before then you're in a minority of about 3 people I would have thought. It is a remarkably handsome motorcycle (I know this because a lot of people have remarked on how handsome it is) and I was sorely tempted to copy the exhaust layout right up to the point where I realised I couldn't quite do it by bending tube, and I'd have to buy some mandrel bends if that was what I wanted. If you understood what I meant when I said I wanted to build something that looked like a BMW that was going racing, and not a race bike with a BMW engine, the TI Boxer was probably a major influence on that too.

Over at a gentleman known simply as Vanzen has been documenting his BMW café racer build. Apart from documenting his (even more radical) frame alterations, Vanzen has galleries. Around 11 at the last count, each containing something on the order of 30 or 40 images of BMW cafe racers from around the world. This man has a lot to answer for in my book, because it was trawling through his galleries that led me to the conclusion that shifting the engine in the frame was what I needed to do. If it's crossed your mind to buy a BMW and build a café racer, then Vanzen's "Boxers at Large" galleries are an invaluable tool in deciding where you're going with the idea. You might like to show your gratitude by buying a "Disciples of the Luftkopf" T Shirt from him.

That's BMW's, but if you're after cafe racer parts, then there's a name that you may not have heard of, but for the real hardcore, been building these for ages, UK based, cafe racer die hard, it's synonymous with café racers and has been for decades. Unity Equipe in Rochdale. More commonly associated with Tritons, Unity still offer many of the generic café racer parts that used to be common fayre in small motorcycle shops in the UK. Certainly if you're at all interested in café racers you're likely to enjoy leafing through their catalogue which you can download here. If you live outside Europe, bear in mind that the prices in the catalogue include 17.5% VAT (sales tax) which you won't have to pay, making it all quite a bit cheaper than it looks.

Even if you're not thinking about building a café racer (BMW derived or otherwise) there's a fair bit to keep the average enthusiast occupied there. Hopefully, this enthusiast will find the time to finish up the odds and sods related to the seat hump. The other thing that I need to deal with is finding some frame splices. As it stands, changing the oil filter requires that the engine be removed (or at least detached) from the frame, adding some frame splices to make the right hand frame rail removable would make that particular piece of routine maintainence a lot more routine and at the same time would mean that removing the engine was less likely to be affected by any frame stiffening. Attending to the frame is the next major job, and the splices are crucial to the whole thing.

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