James Moir and Chris Burnett of JM Customs are living the twinned dream and struggle of running an independent workshop in Perth, Scotland. As James says, “the struggle is real at times, we are growing from strength to strength and most importantly having a blast doing it!”
Recently we featured their Kawasaki Z1000 tracker, “Flatliner,” built for a local tattoo artist and friend. Now the Scottish duo is back with this stunning 1991 BMW R80 scrambler, aka “Betty.” The client hails all the way from Belfast, Ireland, and contacted JM Customs to build a turn his dream into a reality: a custom street scrambler with clean lines, retro styling, and Motogadget modern tech.
Below, we get the full story on the build!
BMW R80 Scrambler: Builder Interview
A Wee Bit about us…
We are JM Customs, based in Perth, Scotland. We are a small custom shop that houses two workshops — a fully equipped service and repair centre, as well as a paint booth and custom design and fabrication workshop. Whilst keeping the local motorcycle community rolling, we also design and build all manners of custom motorcycles, from café racers to choppers.
I (James Moir) owner and lead designer work alongside Chris Burnett (lead mechanic) to create these beautiful machines. We bust our ass every day to do what we love, to build bespoke motorcycles that you can ride hard every day! No ornaments in our shop ha ha!
Although for an independent like us the struggle is real at times, we are growing from strength to strength and most importantly having a blast doing it!
Now for the Bike…
It began life as a stock 1991 BMW R80 RT Monolever. It’s a build commissioned by our client Jonny, who lives in Belfast, Ireland. Jonny had been searching for a custom shop to make his dream a reality, and in in the process of looking for a bike, he saw one of earlier R80 Builds up for sale, took a look through our work and gave us a call! Which is pretty damn cool as he lives quite a bit away from us!
Our client Jonny is new to motorcycling and had been scouring the internet when trying to decide on which style of motorbike he wanted. There is so much great content out there to pull inspiration from and when an R80 came along at the right price the donor was chosen!
We knew from the start that we wanted to create a Street Scrambler, with clean lines, retro styling, topped off with a whole plethora of modern tech from Motogadget.
This bike for us and Jonny is influenced by the mass of super clean BMW’s loaded with trick aftermarket parts and innovation that are out there at the minute!
And with the plan formulated, we got to work to create a wicked machine! We got to work creating
Custom Work carried out…
We removed the stock bolt-on subframe and fabricated a completely new rear end, with an integrated LED tail Light that is fit neatly into the tail loop. We de-tabbed and cleaned up all the unnecessary parts of the frame and removed the centre stand.
We fabricated a neat under seat electrical tray which holds a Motogadget M-Unit Blue and a battery box. The battery box is fitted with a cool leather cover. We made a seat pan and sent it over to Marcel Miller of Miller Custom Upholstery in Holland. His work is superb, and we knew it would sit well with the finished bike.
The rear mudguard was actually the front mudguard from a 1981 Kawasaki Z1000J , one of our previous builds. We chopped down the size, and side profiled to re-purpose this old guard into a slick little addition to the bike.
Stripping the tank back to the bare metal we got lucky! With minimal damage we were able to get a neat brushed metal finish. Capped off with new tank badges and a filler cap from Old Iron Engineering in Germany it really looks great! We hit this tank with a satin clear coat to finish it off.
The cockpit is very minimalistic too… with Motogadget everything that we got from UK Digital Speedos. We installed some riser bars, tricked them out with Mini Switches, M Grips, M blaze bar end indicators and M rear mirrors. We also installed the M Lock System into this bike. Then we hooked this bike up with a MotoScope pro, which really sets things off! Also, some new levers, and A Domino Race throttle. All of the wiring runs through the bars and disappears into the frame, keeping things super clean.
We installed a whole bunch of lighting to this bike. Some Sidewinder LED spot lights that fit neatly to the frame. A crash Bar Side light that we got from Café Racers United. And twin Dominator style headlights. We fabricated an industrial looking cage for the headlight.
We powder coated the frame, swing arm and wheels matte black. Then hand-sanded the inner faces of the alloys to really set the wheels off. With fresh EBC brake discs, and re-conditioned and painted calipers to complete the look. We also sanded the outer fins on the bevel box to match.
Then onto the engine. We stripped the heads down completely and removed the pistons. There were a few minor repairs to carry out before we started to prep and detail the engine. We replaced an outer head casing and installed a new exhaust port thread. As a matter of course we installed a new clutch kit whilst the engine was out of the bike.
After countless hours of degreasing, scrubbing and sanding we painted the engine in a flat matte black. Then we hand-sanded accents into various parts of the engine. This really gives the motor a real retro vibe. Also we installed an air box cover to replace the stock air box.
The carbs were fully reconditioned and cleaned, installed with choke plungers that we got from Motorworks. These are neat items. Allowing us to remove the need for a thumb choke on the bars, and fewer cables to run through the bike. Furthermore, pushing for that clean design. Finished off with some DNA Power Filters.
The custom brake lines up front come from Hel Performance. We rebuilt the front suspension and had the lower fork tubes powder coated in matte black. At the rear we installed an adjustable unit from our mates at Hagon Suspension.
The exhausts headers, we cut away the link pipes and shortened the main pipes back. Fitted some cool black aftermarket cans that really rip! We wrapped the pipes in black heat wrap.
What are we proud of…
We are particularly proud of the detail work on this bike. The engine looks like a crate motor, surrounded by all the handcrafted elements you see something new every time you look at it. Also, the way this bike performs, it is so smooth to ride, responsive and comfortable.
We would classify this bike as a Street Scrambler