Something for everyone this week: The classic perfection of a Moto Guzzi café racer, a stealthy R18 commissioned by BMW, and a slinky CB650R from Honda’s European dealer build-off. Plus a look at BMW’s very, very radical new CE 04.
Moto Guzzi California 1100 EV by Bernd and Robin Mehnert The Mehnerts are a German father and son duo who normally make woodwind instruments. But when a friend offered them a California 1100 on the cheap, they snapped it up and turned their attention to shaping metal.
The California may be a cruiser, but it converts surprisingly well to a café racer format—mostly thanks to the Tonti frame. It’s far too heavy though, so Bernd and Robin focused on dropping weight, using as many aluminum parts as possible.
Inspired by Axel Budde and his acclaimed Kaffeemaschine builds, the Mehnerts installed the lower frame tubes from a Le Mans, an aluminum tank from WBO Racing, and a seat-and-tail unit made from GRP.
The German Moto Guzzi specialist Dynotec supplied the leather seat, reprogrammed the fuel injection, and also helped with paint for the few parts that aren’t raw metal.
Power gets a boost from a modified airbox (with hi-flow air filter) and a Mistral exhaust system, lifting the output from 68 to 86 hp. Weight is down from around 250 to 210 kg, allowing the Guzzi to pass the 200 kph mark. And with a lowered, refurbished front fork and Öhlins 36PRCLB piggyback shocks at the rear, the California has now got the stance to match. [Via]
BMW R18 by Pier City Cycles This Sussex, England workshop keeps a low profile on the custom scene, but it’s a thriving business that specializes in custom BMW R nineTs. They do complete builds, and also sell a huge range of parts for Boxer owners who prefer to do the work themselves.
PCC have now attracted the attention of BMW Motorrad UK, who commissioned them to customize an R18 for the Goodwood Festival of Speed running this weekend.
The R18 is currently sitting in the Supercar Paddock but we reckon it’ll easily hold its own against the surrounding exotica—despite relatively subtle mods.
PCC have dialed down the whole ‘heritage’ vibe of the R18 and gone for what they call a ‘neo’ look. Fabrication includes a low-profile seat on hard-mounted support struts, upholstered by James King Atelier using a combination of pig suede and leather.
The slimline fenders are hand-made, and the bars are lower and narrower than stock. The exhaust system is new too, with custom pipework designed to sit square with the frame and tiny end cans from Unit Garage.
BMW’s own Option 719 program provided more goodies, including blacked-out covers for the engine housing and cylinder heads, blacked-out fork covers, and black aluminum rims.
On the electrical side, PCC have installed a Denali M7 headlight and used Motogadget Tens2 combo units for the rest of the lighting—as well as the compact Motoscope Mini digital speedo.
After a complete respray, the R18 was ready to take on the famous hillclimb at Goodwood, with frequent Isle of Man TT racer James Hiller on board. We wish we’d been there to see it—and hear it, since this R18 registers a whopping 121dB on the sound level meter. [Pier City | Images by Drew Irvine]
Honda Europe CB650R custom competition Custom build-offs involving dealers are fraught with danger for the manufacturers’ marketing departments. It takes more than just a skilled mechanic to build an eye-catching custom, and a slick showroom is no guarantee of an eye for design. And then you have to get all the bikes photographed consistently.
We’ve seen some real hit-and-miss competitions in the past, but Honda has got it right with its ‘Garage Dreams’ contest, involving 36 dealers across Europe. The winning bikes were destined to go on display a few days ago at the Wheels & Waves festival in France—but since that was cancelled, Honda has put together an online showcase of the ten best builds.
We’re especially taken with the machine shown here, by the Portuguese garage Mototrofa. It’s called Fénix—after the garage burnt down in 2019 and was resurrected—and won the Iberian section of the contest.
Mototrofa have grafted on the single-sided swingarm and rear wheel from a VFR750F, plus the front wheel from a CBR900RR Fireblade. The seat and tail unit are custom, and an Akrapovič titanium exhaust system liberates a few extra horsepower while dropping almost five kilos off the weight.
The paint was designed with the help of (and applied by) fellow Portuguese brand Nexx Helmets, with the ‘93’ signifying the year Mototrofa was founded. And also the race number of a certain young Spanish MotoGP champion…
BMW CE 04 electric scooter We don’t usually find new scooter launches interesting, but BMW’s latest urban runabout really butters our toast. Not only because it’s electric, but also because the cyberpunk-ish styling is out of this world.
The aesthetics are similar to those we’re starting to see from the more forward-thinking custom builders. They’re also remarkably close to the Concept Link that BMW revealed at the Concorso d‘Eleganza show four years ago. And predictably, this has triggered some of the more conservative members of the motorcycling fraternity.
Top speed is 75 mph (120 kph), and range is around 80 miles (130 km). To get these user-friendly figures, weight is a pretty hefty 509 pounds (231 kg), which virtually matches that of the new Revolution Max-powered Sportster S that Harley is about to reveal. BMW, helpfully, kits out the CE 04 with a reverse gear.
It’s also worth noting that this scoot is big: it’s about an inch longer than a Pan America. There’s plenty of room for a passenger on the bench seat, plus front and side storage compartments.
BMW has history in the electric scooter world, thanks to the C-evolution maxi scooter. So you can bank on the CE 04 being well-sorted, fun to ride and cheap to run. It won’t be cheap to buy, though: in the States, pricing will start at $11,795.
That’s about the same as a new base-model Ducati Monster, but a helluva lot less than the $21,999 LiveWire One. You pays your money and you takes your choice. [BMW CE 04 Definition product page]