Bravo Europe, you really showed how it was done. The sheer quality of the builds at our Paris event was just astounding. From the truest of Shed builds to manufacturer supported skunk-works projects, the level of thought, detail and engineering going into each bike is just getting better and better. The Brit pack must be collectively tugging at their collars and sweating having seen the bar that our international compadres set. With the London Edition at Tobbacco Dock opening it’s doors in a little over five weeks, builders might be rolling bikes back up onto benches to ‘tweak’ just a little more! But we have faith.
And it’s because of bikes like this 1982 BMW R80. Built by one of the stalwart British builders, it is of course another stunner by Kev Hill and the gang at Kevil’s Speed Shop. The Devon dwellers have customers queuing around the world for their bahnstorming bikes and the guys have been refining their builds for many years now. Such refinement is beneficial for both builder and customer, resulting in a more effective, reliable and efficient machine as well as a more palatable business deal for both sides.
With a back catalogue of beautiful builds, it’s not uncommon for Kevils to be asked to re-play one of their greatest hits by a customer. So like Ralph McTell being asked to play something other than Streets of London, when a free reign build is proposed by a client, the guys jump at the chance.
The year of the bike was very specific to the customer, Alfred Man, as it was when he made his first appearance in this world. But it also held fond memories for Kev:
“It was the same year I left school, cutting my teeth on Austin maestros and Rover SDi’s. Toiling away in the garage stores handing out oddities such as mollyslip, hylomar and swarfega, plus a large amount of service parts to the mechanics who were real men unlike me, a boy on a Yammy DT50, listening to Dexy’s on the radio.”
With the bike being shipped off to Canada once it was completed, this had to be a solid, reliable machine. So naturally Kev started with the paint! He knew the exact hue he wanted to use, having had it in the back of his mind for a while. The petrol-induced turquoise has a beautiful glow, lying neither to far towards green or blue. twin racing stripes in black metallic reach over the top of the tank, the whole lot buried beneath inch-thick lacquer.
With carte blanche on the design, Kevils could mix and match parts to their own desire. A billet top yoke allows the front end to locate securely following a 60mm drop. Slammed low for an aggressive stance, the handling now has a little more eagerness to it. Backed up by a set of heavy duty rear shocks lifting the rear, the owner will be just as confident leaving the highway and heading for those mountain passes.
Original cafe style features are prominent, the leather upholstered solo hump seat is roomy and the twin reverse megaphones offer both aural and visual delights. Clip ons are fixed above the yoke to make the riding position all-day-comfy while a pair of useful bar end mirrors ensure practicality remains.
While all the classic cafe appendages are present, the bike has been injected with modern twists throughout. The led tail lights has been frenched into the seat loop, ultrabright LED indicators are found buried in the ends of the subframe tubes. Up front, the ever popular Motogadget MotoScope Pro is found in place of a more traditional analogue item.
All this brings the bike right up to date without diluting the classic essence of the design. The engine has been dragged into the 21st century, with some reliable Mikunis replacing the tired Bings. They are set up to breath through pod filters and add more pep to the boxer’s swings. Kevil’s own replacement airbox cover finishes the engine off and the guys are so proud of this build they even put their own gel badges in place of the BMW roundels.
As with all Kevils builds the bike has been completely reworked from top to bottom, oozing quality and style from every gasket. For the guys it’s a fresh face to add to their ever expanding portfolio, and who could blame you for wanting a similar bike. But if you want to get the best from Kev and his team, let them do their thing and wait for the phone call, you won’t be disappointed.
Photos by Focal Point Photography