Bob Ranew of Redeemed Cycles builds himself a Beemer…
Some of our favorite customs are those that builders put together just for themselves, freed from the constraints of a client design brief. Such is the case with this ’87 BMW R80RT from Bob Ranew of North Carolina’s Redeemed Cycles. We were fortunate enough to meet Bob way back in 2015 at Devolve Moto (RIP) in Raleigh, NC, where we noticed his Classified Moto CB836 parked out front — a bike that would help inspire him to open his own workshop:
“I was Classified Moto‘s first paying customer which ignited in me the drive to start trying to build my own bikes.”
Since then, Bob has built some 18 bikes, including a CL450 scrambler and last year’s budget-built CB650 — both highly popular bikes among our readership. Now he’s back with this personal project based on an 80s BMW boxer — a type that was something of an acquired taste:
“It took me quite a while to begin loving the old BMW airheads. They didn’t automatically click with me, but over time my opinion changed…”
We’ve heard that from other riders and builders in the past. The BMW airheads aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially in stock trim, but given time, the ruggedness, heritage, and engineering of these old air-cooled boxers tend to win people over. That said, Bob’s relative inexperience with the breed proved problematic when choosing a donor:
“[The seller] told me it was a solid bike. But without knowing anything about BMW’s and watch outs, plus the bike was completely covered with plastic fairings and impossible to really see everything, I took his word for it. What a sucker.”
Bob stripped the bike down to the bare minimum, creating a two-up seat that hovers over the rear wheel, eliminating the airbox, shortening the exhaust, fabricating a battery mount, and stitching the saddle from an old leather jacket.
Below, we get more details on this custom boxer from Bob himself.
BMW R80 Custom: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I was Classified Moto‘s first paying customer which ignited in me the drive to start trying to build my own bikes. I work in advertising and a co-worker told me he wanted a scrambler so we found a CL450 in Kentucky, brought it home, made a million stupid first timer mistakes, but ended up with something cool. From there it took on a life of its own, I built a shed beside the house, and came up with a name, Redeemed Cycles. With this latest BMW build I think I’m up to 18 bikes. I just build on weekends mostly, still have my day job.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
1987 BMW R80RT.
• Why was this bike built?
It took me quite a while to begin loving the old BMW airheads. They didn’t automatically click with me, but over time my opinion changed, so I found this on Craigslist located on the NC coast about a two-hour drive away. The owner cranked it right up. Told me it was a solid bike. But without knowing anything about BMW’s and watch outs, plus the bike was completely covered with plastic fairings and impossible to really see everything, I took his word for it. What a sucker.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Stripped down to the bare minimum. I loved the mono-shock design on this year’s model and knew I wanted the seat to look like it was just hanging out there without any visible supports. Keep a lot of black but do something different on the tank paint color scheme.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Seat and eliminated air box and made a battery mount. Shortened the exhaust and added cone type mufflers. My wife was giving a leather jacket to Goodwill and I said, “Hold on, I need that for the seat on the BMW.”
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Very different than my other bikes. The opposed twin motor feels completely different, but solid as a rock.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m always pleased when the finished product looks like what I mocked up in photoshop before I start.