Speed Read, 7 March 2021

The latest motorcycle news and customs
We’re heavy on Bavaria this week, with a blacked-out BMW R18 from Harley specialist MB Cycles and a flat track-inspired R100 from Cafemoto. And we take a closer look at Roland Sands’ retro-themed KTM and the slightly strange new ‘Lawrence’ from Brough Superior. Which bike would you prefer to put in your own garage?

Custom KTM 790 by Roland Sands

KTM 790 Adventure by Roland Sands KTM know how to build ADV bikes, and the middleweight 790 has wowed road testers the world over. But there are a few people out there who are not so keen on the Austrian brand’s hard-edged styling, and one of them is the guy who commissioned this custom from Roland Sands.

The Californian whiz kid has given the 790 a timeless and slightly retro vibe without compromising practicality too much: the fitment of a RotoPaX fuel container counters a slight reduction in fuel capacity.

Custom KTM 790 by Roland Sands
The tank is from a Suzuki GT750, and the plastic fenders are from a vintage KTM. The seat, very cleverly, is a straight lift from a Husqvarna Vitpilen, and there’s a tail bag right behind it on a custom mount/subframe assembly.

The brilliant engine, suspension and brakes are wisely left unmolested, but in another inspired raid on the parts bin, Roland has installed a Triumph headlight in front of ProTaper bars for an authentic retro vibe.

Custom KTM 790 by Roland Sands
He’s also retained the essential factory radiator, but turned it vertical to make it less visible. A modified KTM skid plate protects the bottom of the engine, which now exhales via a tweaked Akrapovič slip-on muffler.


Despite the difficulties in getting the ‘water buffalo’ tank to fit, RSD have turned in a coherent build that doesn’t damage the KTM’s exceptional dynamic abilities. Clever work! [Via]

Custom BMW R18 by MB Cycles
BMW R18 by MB Cycles It’s been a long time since a new model launch excited builders so much. There’s no official word on R18 sales figures yet, but quite a few have been snapped up by custom shops already.

Martin Becker of MB Cycles in Germany is one of those early adopters. “I bought four,” he tells us. “Don’t ask me why. Sometimes I wonder myself, because I’m mostly into Harleys!”

Custom BMW R18 by MB Cycles
The bike shown here is his ‘test bed’—the other three will be built to order. “I saw it as a competition for myself to build something cool, and people have gone crazy since I showed it.”

Martin’s dropped the R18 by 70 mm [2.75 inches] by lowering the forks and using Öhlins components to create a lowering kit for the rear suspension. The wheels are new too, going from 19” to 21” at the front and 16” to 18” at the back. They’re now shod with Avon Cobra Chrome rubber.

Custom BMW R18 by MB Cycles
On the bodywork front, Martin has installed a handmade rear fender—without struts—and added a modified Sport Glide fairing to the front end. ABM adjustable risers, superbike-style bars and Magura brake and clutch cylinders complete the cockpit.

After powder coating nearly everything that was originally chromed, Martin slotted in a new bobber-style seat and hacked off the giant factory mufflers, replacing them with stubby cans that open up the sound.

Custom BMW R18 by MB Cycles
The result looks stunning, and if you’re as taken as we are, the good news is that Martin can build you a complete bike just like this—or supply the mufflers or lowering kit separately. Form an orderly queue. [MB Cycles | Images by Melissa Rademacher]

2021 Brough Superior Lawrence
2021 Brough Superior Lawrence The former English marque has enjoyed a revival in recent years, with a new range of modern Broughs built in France at the Boxer Design factory.

This week they launched a new ‘Lawrence’ model, named after T. E. Lawrence—otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia. The British writer and archaelogist died in 1935, two months after finishing his illustrious military career, while riding a Brough Superior SS100.

2021 Brough Superior Lawrence
It seems odd to name a bike after someone who perished while riding an earlier model, but the specs look tantalizing.

The proprietary 997cc V-twin pumps out just over 100 hp, and the frame is machined from titanium. The Fior-type aluminum forks are damped with a fully adjustable monoshock, and there’s another monoshock acting on the pretty cast aluminium swingarm, which pivots on the engine crankcases.

2021 Brough Superior Lawrence
Claimed weight is a tidy 200 kg (410 lb), and we suspect the Lawrence will be a nimble and invigorating ride. But like the name, the styling is a little odd. We’re told that the “sleek lines are designed after the fleeting, fluid curve of the daggers Bedouins customarily wore on their belts.”

There’s probably something lost in translation here, but there’s also a place for high end limited edition bikes. We suspect Brough will find a few well-heeled buyers for this machine. [Brough Superior]

Custom BMW R100 GS by Cafemoto
BMW R100 GS by Cafemoto The BMW R-series doesn’t have a history in the flat track scene, but that hasn’t stopped the Gelsenkirchen workshop Cafemoto from playing ‘what if.’

For his twelfth build, shop boss Georg picked out an R100 GS with low mileage and let his imagination run wild. “The two-valve models never ran in flat track, but we like the design of them,” he says. “And cornering on secondary roads is perfect on a light BMW too.”

Custom BMW R100 GS by Cafemoto
To get the look, Georg has added original aluminum alloy AMA flat track plates and combined them with LSL flat track bars, a modified ‘toaster’ tank and a new seat with old school leather upholstery. The ‘67’ is his year of birth.

To make the tank fit, he’s relocated the electrics to a housing under the back of the seat—which now sits on a shortened rear frame.

The wheel rims are new too, with the usual 21” going down to 19″ at the front and the 17” going up to an 18″ at the back to get better proportions. For the sake of authenticity, Georg has stuck with tubeless BMW spoke wheels from other models, though. “And we haven’t used flat track tires, because those that are available in 19″ don’t work that good on the streets,” he says.

Custom BMW R100 GS by Cafemoto
The forks have been treated to upgraded springs and there are new Wilbers shocks at the back, to drag the handling towards 21st century levels.

Since the motor was in excellent condition, Georg has left the internals alone. But he’s installed a KTM muffler for better breathing and sound. “We kept the original ‘mid silencer’ though, to avoid a drop in torque,” he says.

Cafemoto’s R100 might not beat today’s cutting edge flat track racers to the flag at the end of the race. But it sure looks like a fun bike for blasting around tracks in Bavarian forests—and looking good in the process.

[Cafemoto | Images by Michael Larssen]

Custom BMW R100 GS by Cafemoto

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