The BMW R100 has become one of the world’s most popular platforms for customization. The last of the airheads, it’s a well-built machine, easy to maintain, and has one of the most distinctive engines ever designed. Perhaps builder Sean Zeigler of Texas-based Other Life Cycles says it best:
“It is a beautiful platform because it has such an iconic engine design that can trace its roots back to 1896 when Karl Benz drew the initial idea.”
You might remember Sean from his squeaky clean “F-Bomb” Honda CB550, which we featured way back in 2016, or his staggering Honda GL650 “Supermoto Scramblerstein.” Now he’s back with this gorgeous ’88 BMW R100 RT, nicknamed the “Bavarian Creme Puff.” It was brought to him from Sam Russell (@sam62687), the son of the previous owner:
“This BMW R100 RT had belonged to his father and had been to rallies, events, and shows — at times with Sam on the back of it with his dad — during its previous life. It held a special spot with Sam for sure, but he wanted it transformed into something more his style while honoring its history.”
Below, we get the full story on this “Bavarian Creme Puff,” as well as a stunning deck of photos from one of our favorite motorcycle photographers, Scott Brown of The Moto Studio.
BMW R100 “Scrafe”: In the Builder’s Words
Every time you touch a motorcycle to modify it, you step into its history. Sam Russell (@sam62687) called us up looking for help resurrecting his dad’s BMW R100 RT. Now there are what seems like a zillion BMW R100 builds in the custom build world. It is a beautiful platform because it has such an iconic engine design that can trace its roots back to 1896 when Karl Benz drew the initial idea. Sam’s bike had its own story too.
This BMW R100 RT had belonged to his father and had been to rallies, events, and shows — at times with Sam on the back of it with his dad — during its previous life. It held a special spot with Sam for sure, but he wanted it transformed into something more his style while honoring its history. We talked a bit about what he wanted, traded some ideas and landed on what you see here.
The nickname “Bavarian Creme Puff’ comes from the shape the bike was in when it arrived; a running driving rider with pretty low miles for its age and, let’s not forget, that engine is one of the easiest to work on. A veritable “creme puff” mechanically.
The design of the build was pretty simple; strip it down like a cafe racer but give it a neutral riding position like the original. We affectionately coined the term “Scrafe” for this build. We started out by taking all of the plastics and fairings off and removing the rear subframe. What went back was a custom fabricated seat hoop with a double 10 degree bend rise and turnbuckle style supports that can be adjusted to get the seat height perfect. The seat hoop also got custom machined lugs so it could mount to the stock location on the frame with minimal modification.
Additionally, we eliminated the large battery and its suitcase of a tray, replacing it with a custom fabricated battery tray holding a much smaller and lighter Antigravity Batteries (@antigravitybatteries) AG-1201 tucked under the swing-arm. Front and rear fenders are fabricated out of aluminum by hand as well.
For the seat Sam wanted something special, so we obliged. We worked with him to select a buttery Relicate Leathers (@relicateleather) cashew colored leather and blue thread that would match deep blue paint he had selected. We also kept the stock pin striping location but went back with black pinstripes over the blue paint for an understated look. The paint was done by our good friend Kenneth Cooper (@cooper__painter), and the seat work was laid over a custom shaped aluminum seat pan we made in house and diamond stitched by Angie Dixon (@gasaxegirlfriday) at her shop.
In our initial interviews over the bike Sam had talked a bit about the suspension and how it felt mushy. We addressed that by going back with springs from Racetech (@racetechinc) that matched Sam’s weight up front with new seals, and out back a new more adjustable shock was installed. Tires are Kenda K761’s, and are a little fatter than the originals. All of that resulted in a bike that “rode like new” per Sam.
Like all Other Life Cycles builds, the electrical got an upgrade with a Motogadget (@motogadget) M-unit and completely new color coded wiring harness built in-house. Additionally, we used Motogadget turn signals (front and rear) as well as a sweet little aluminum brake light from Prism Supply (@prismsupply_). We also upgraded the regulator/rectifier to keep that Lithium battery charged at the right rate.
The engine got a top-end refresh and everything that could be blacked out was. On the intake side, the carburetors were refreshed by soda blasting, and new manual choke levers were installed. The exhaust was shortened and wrapped in black and capped off with Cone Engineering (@coneeng) reverse cone slip-ons that were ceramic coated… in black.
We updated the brakes up front by installing a new Nissin master cylinder and custom Goodridge (@goodridgeltd) Sniper2 Brake lines and fittings. In back we fabricated a new brake arm out of aluminum and stainless, and modified the brake switch housing on the frame.
After a recent meet up for this photo shoot I asked Sam how he liked the bike. With a grin on his face Sam said. “It is perfect, I rode it so much last night my hands hurt.”