Reader's Ride: Kriss's 1981 BMW R80
This week’s exciting Reader’s Ride is in memory of our dearly departed Rocky Stonepebble, who I think claimed to be Scottish, didn’t he? When he wasn’t busy flinging poo through the bars to incite anarchy and hockey. Kriss and his BMW reside in the Scottish highlands.
Hi fellow bike nuts, my name is Kristoffer, living in the highlands of Scotland. I’ve never been one for original bikes, although I do love and respect all choices of motorcycles and styles, I’ve always been one for having something different – which is how you could describe my custom BMW R80 rat/survival bike. She’s a 1981 R80 TIC, former police bike is the history i was told, and has clocked just shy of the 150,000-miles mark on the odometer.
No major modifications, or any welding has been involved so far. I lowered the rear end simply by swapping out for the shortest aftermarket shocks I could find, and the handlebars are off of another custom bobber previously in my possession. Paint is a custom rattle-can job applied in my shed, with a white primer, copper base coat, random variations of tape of varying thicknesses in random patterns across the tank, then camo tone with cardboard stencils to get the overlayed effect.
The extended exhausts use standard joints and a bit of flexi-pipe to some straight-through end cans running up the sissy bar; the sissy bar itself is a slightly modified ebay special. Loud? I’ve only ever been pulled for the bike once by the police, and when I told them I was advised that the age of the bike lets me get away with louder pipes, the cop seemed satisfied. I’m sure he was just bored and wanting a look at the bike! She turns heads wherever she goes – I’m not sure if it’s the noise or people are just surprised at how it looks?
The consideration for a different fuel tank was there, but the R series fuel tanks are large, and in the highlands larger fuel tanks and a decent range is always an advantage worth preserving. Luggage bags are from my local army surplus show for aesthetic use, but have a good capacity for camp gear etc. as needed.
I’ve had the bike for five years, got it with full R-series bodywork in original condition in a lovely BMW gold/ mustard yellow. It lived two years in between as a cafe racer with full RT fairing before the bobber look happened on a whim. The only chopping that happened was to the rear subframe in order to fit my homemade seat. Don’t panic: This was a second subframe I purchased with the intention of chopping up.
Aware that these old bikes retain value, I have kept all the original parts, down to the dashboard clock and the original German-marked temp gauge/dipstick so I can always restore it down the line. It could happen.
Before this one I’d never had a boxer, always inline Fours, so the bike has been a learning curve for me, and an exciting one at that. Despite the lack of a high top-end, the handling of the boxer more than makes up for it, especially on our twisty roads in the highlands. It’s seen me through journeys all over the country, bike rallies with my club the Jacobites, and the work commute, including winter. It’s a bike I will never get rid of, though others can come and go.
I currently have two more bikes – an `03 SV1000S which is my commuter bike, and an `88 CBR750 Hurricane, a project I’ve recently acquired and am yet undecided as to which direction it will take. But that’s a project for after I get the BMW back on the road, which is currently having some hours put into her engine to make sure I can get another 150k miles out of her.
Bikes have always been my passion, as I grew up with a dad and uncle who always had various bikes and trikes over the years. I’m a father of three boys, and hoping they’ll follow suit into the amazing world of motorcycles with me. Not to say I wouldn’t be cautious about it though, as I had a spill last year that resulted in a few broken bones (wrist and ribs). But that didn’t stop me fixing my bike while I was off work.
I hope your readers enjoy seeing where my passion with bikes has taken me as much as I’m looking forward to seeing all other readers’ bikes during these hard times. Cheers! – Kriss
More by Readers' Rides