A piece of art is frequently produced when you entrust the expertise of another person with your custom motorcycle project. This was demonstrated by the remarkable bespoke BMW R75/5, which won the Handbuilt Show’s ‘Best of Show’ award this year. The bike was once a worn-out 1971 BMW R75/5, a forgotten treasure rotting away in a barn. It is now owned by Helmut Siepmann, a product designer located close to Toronto, Canada. In Siepmann’s mind, this beast could be revived and transformed into a fun café racer.
Siepmann enlisted the aid of his buddy Johnny Lorette, a retired tool and die manufacturer and custom car enthusiast, to help with the transformation process. Lorette, who conducts business as 1755 Customs out of his two-car garage, is known for his painstaking work. Unexpectedly, Lorette’s passion caused him to seize complete control of the project and guide it away from the café racer idea. He intended to include contemporary elements into the R75/5 while preserving its salient historical characteristics, such as its shaft drive, drum brakes, and famous headlamp. Two and a half years and 1,400 man-hours of meticulous preparation and execution went into the laborious procedure.
Air Support BMW gave the motorcycle’s powertrain a factory-spec makeover, which now includes Mahle pistons, rebored cylinders, rebuilt heads with new guides, valves and springs, as well as new seals, rings and bearings. A twin Weber carburetor that is specifically connected to the heads through 3D-printed intake manifolds has taken the place of the previous OEM Bing carburetors.
In an amazing feat of creativity, Lorette created a split fuel tank. The right half hides a smart collection of electronics that are placed in a 3D-printed box underneath the tank, while the left half covers fuel storage. The split tank is supported by a CNC-machined structure Siepmann affectionately refers to as “The Fish,” which also hides the wiring for the taillights.
It’s impossible to overlook the distinctive seat with its hand-hammered aluminium base that allows for simple access to the taillight’s wiring or bulbs. Similar to the “Fish,” the bike’s rear features a huge fender that is fastened to a unique support. The bike has a sleek, bobbed appearance because there are no visible fasteners and the OEM shocks have been replaced with hidden pull-type shocks.
The front suspension, wheels, and a special exhaust system that is snuggled close to the frame all received modifications to improve the bike’s appearance. The cockpit also features Motogadget bar-end turn signals and mirrors, modern controls, and handbuilt direct-mount bars. The modest brass details seen throughout the bike are complemented by the fabric conduit used to wrap all wiring.
Anyone who sees Siepmann’s BMW R75/5 today will be profoundly affected by its amazing fusion of modern and traditional design. Its remarkable metamorphosis is proof of the custom motorcycle industry’s seemingly limitless capacity for creativity and skill.