BMW R50/5 Cafe Racer

BMW R50/5 Cafe Racer

Sometimes less is more, and no one knows that better than builder Maurizio Merlo, one of our favorite garage-builders. Last year, we featured “The Baby,” his 1973 BSA Lightning scrambler.  Now Maurizio, an Italian native who lives and works in Johannesburg, is back with a bike he’s nicknamed “The Lady,” a 1971 BMW R50/5 cafe racer.  Maurizio has applied the same less is more philosophy he used on the BSA, and boy is she a beauty. We will let the man himself give you the full story on this build.

Custom BMW R50/5:  In the Builder’s Words


Six month ago a compulsory desire to play again with a bike caught me. I had no idea about what to do but two things were clear to me from the beginning: the engine must be iconic, and the same “less is more” philosophy of the Baby must be applied.

I found here a good 1971 BMW R50/5. A real bike, used and scarred. Perfect! Soon I sketched the Lady as she is now: a café racer ready to get the Brits at the Ace Café pretty nervous.

BMW-R50/5 Exhaust

So standard strip out of everything not necessary to ride the bike. Then:

  • New sub-frame with new shocks
  • Battery in the filter case to have the rear so clean
  • Forks pulled out of 3 cm to load the bike on the front
  • New tail, minimal, sharp and short
  • New exhaust 2 in 1, fully open (what a rumble !!!)
  • Clip ons
  • A lot of imagination to hide here and there the accessories to maintain a the line clean

Short and sweet.

I kept the awesome front light, controls and the tank as they are, including all the scares and flaws to honour the battles of the Lady.

That’s all and, again, the result is in the picture.

BMW R50/5 Custom Cafe Racer



  1. Federico Merlo


  2. BMW R50/5
    “The lady”, is certainly very stylish.
    All in all certainly a very good looking cafe racer with clean lines, retaining the beautiful original nostalgic head light coupled with a revised frame and a very sexy new exhaust.
    Very pleasing to look at, time and time again – Well done !

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