Building a dramatic, awe inspiring custom is becoming harder every year, especially when trying to demonstrate engineering skill with creative flair on something as mainstream as a BMW airhead. Every now and again someone uses just the right recipe, adding a cherry on top of Delia Smiths tried and tested Victoria sponge, rather than gaudily icing some gluten-free, chia seed skinny muffin. Sussex outfit Rasio have baked a beauty with this R80, ‘Peeler’.
We first encountered Mark and Andy when their Ducati D’Karmah rolled onto a plinth at Bike Shed Paris 2015. For us, the mix of sympathetic restoration combined with modern upgrades and custom cool was perfect. By Sunday afternoon, we had to confiscate Dutch’s wallet as he was close to adding to his fleet.
The guys spotted a very tidy R80 that’d seen service as a Scottish police bike (hence the name Peeler) in the 1980s. Despite there being a glut of Beemers hitting custom sites Mark and Andy knew they had to do one at some point, so bought the bike blind and hid it in a corner of the workshop for a rainy day. The idea was to blend 1950s style with subtle contemporary improvements, quality taking precedence over dramatics.
The engine was stripped and rebuilt to a professional standard, including everything from the most basic seal to new main bearings. It breathes through stock Bings and drilled airbox. What! No pod filters? Crikey!
Breakdowns are no longer an acceptable accompaniment to custom motorcycle ownership so absolutely every single nut, bolt and washer was removed and either cleaned, refurbished or replaced along with an overhaul of the mechanicals.
Hagon specced a pair of shorter, semi-shrouded shocks to compliment the lowered (4 inches) fork. Alterations to stance usually end there with Airheads but Mark and Andy didn’t like the gap left between engine and tank so set about lowering it a couple of inches by modifying the tunnel. Avoiding the temptation to introduce a flat, horizontal boneline has yielded a far classier and accomplished look.
In Mark’s words “we knocked up a simple sub frame” a humble understatement. From here it looks like one of the smartest rear ends I’ve seen in a while with its integrated stop light peak and additional loop. The delicate rear mudguard with tow-tone pinstripe finishes the job nicely and the side mounted number plate (LED lit) keeps the tail tidy.
Wheels are of course rebuilt, with stainless spokes, but the matt finish is a super-thin ceramic coating rather than powdercoat. Classic Dunlop K70 tyres are the perfect choice for this build. The exhaust headers are stock with Norton silencers which have been ceramic coated too, along with a few choice accent pieces – the barrels, headlight peak, shock shrouds, bars, brake calipers and the hubs.
Spoling such a neat build with wires was never going to happen. A new loom runs throughout, powered by a proper sized battery with loads of cranking amps, underslung beneath the transmission. The guts of the harness is housed under the fuel tank thanks to the extensive remodelling of the tunnel. Micro switches set into the bars are self-cancelling which is a particularly nice touch. Wiring runs internally with the bars and the simple Motogadget speedo makes for a very clean dash.
You’d think from these pics that the bike had just been finished and pampered prior to the shoot. Far from it, Rasio builds bikes to be ridden and that’s exactly what Mark and Andy have been doing, enjoying the fruits of their labour. The need for space is Mark’s excuse for the BMW’s impending sale, but I’m sure its the itch to embark on another project that needs scratching.
The BMW and Ducati D’Karmah will be for sale at Bike Shed London 2017 in a few weeks time…. unless they’re scooped up in the meantime.
Images by MJ Studio