The BMW R80RT, which debuted in 1982, was designed as a streamlined, lighter-weight tourer to complement the company’s larger, more heavily-equipped machines. Power came from an 800cc, 50-horsepower version of the beloved Type 247 boxer engine, mated to a shaft-drive and “monolever” single-sided swingarm. Fast forward several decades, and these 800cc airheads have been a favorite among custom builders who prefer to strip down these old touring bikes to a more essential form, rebuilding them in any number of styles.
Enter one of our favorite workshops, Unik Edition Custom Motorcycles of Portugal. Founders Luís Costa and Tiago Gonçalves opened their doors in 2016 and have since “gone pro” with a new garage, bike dealership, and moto accessory shop in the Moscavide neighborhood of Lisbon. For this project, they started with a rusty, beat-up 1989 BMW R80RT and completely transformed the machine, creating the elegant yet slightly menacing build you see here — aptly named “Skull” after the artwork on the tank.
BMW R80 Brat Tracker: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
BMW R 80 RT, 1989.
• Why was this bike built?
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The idea was to build a black, one seat — easy driving and improving performance.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
New sub-frame, custom exhaust, t-table, paint jobs, seat, complete new electrics.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Skull. The client loved the skull scene, so it was an inspiration to the project.
• How would you classify this bike?
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The harmony of the lines. The transformation between the rusty original model that reached our shop and the current one. We also like the classic models, so when we make these custom designs it is also very important for us to improve not only aesthetics but also performance. We like to think that we improved something.
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Credits to photographer
Nelson Oliveira of @no.photo.on.two.wheels