From the builders of Manny Pacquiao’s Lambretta!
Elmer R. Reyes is a Filipino Canadian who dropped out of his third year of law school to pursue his true passion: designing, building, and restoring motorcycles. He founded his shop, Laguna Choppers, with his godson, Russell — to help keep Russell off the streets and teach him valuable mechanic skills. As their shop motto goes:
Some people watch things happen.
Some people wonder what’s happening.
Others…make things happen.
After a few years in business, they restored a Lambretta for none other than World Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao, unveiling it on his 32nd birthday! Says Elmer:
“After Manny Pacquiao, the shop flourished. An idea then came to me of opening up a school for kids from the poorest of the poor.”
Four years ago, Elmer opened the Laguna Choppers Institute of Technology — a school that takes students from poor neighborhoods and teaches and trains them in the shop. They now have 27 scholars enrolled in the school, and the bike you see here was built by out-of-school youths that Elmer trained in his shop. They’ve also built two custom bikes for the History channel, displayed at History-Con Manila in 2016 and 2017, as well as the “Marawi Heroes” build:
“A tribute for the fallen soldiers of the war in the south of the Philippines — we will donate the proceeds for the education of the children of all the fallen soldiers of that war.”
This 1984 BMW R65 — “Sulyap” — was built for the owner of a hotel and restaurant in the shop’s hometown of San Pablo City, Philippines. We especially love the hardwood accents and highly-modified R100 tank, which houses fuel on one side and the bike’s electronics on the other. Below, we get the full story on the build!
BMW R65 Tracker: In the Builder’s Words
About the Shop…
Here’s a little info about my me and the shop. I’m a Filipino Canadian, 50 years old. I started my shop in 1995 as a hobby, after I dropped out of law school in my 3rd year — I didn’t see myself as a lawyer. Right after that, I embraced what I really love doing — it’s designing and restoring motorcycles. I named our shop Laguna Choppers, which came up after a few bottles of brew with my friends here in our little town called San Pablo, in Laguna, Philippines. I enrolled myself in a motorcycle mechanics school in metro Manila, though it wasn’t enough since they were just teaching me about small engines. It was all self study after that, reading books and watching Youtube really helped me, but in those days the internet was not yet available, so I relied on the old school ways. Reading books :).
I started my shop with my godson, his name is Russell, he was 12 years old then. His dad, who is a dear friend, could not afford to get him to have a good education and asked me if I could help him enroll his son in high school to get a formal education — very talented and smart boy, but his high school was short-lived, didn’t last. I went back to Vancouver for several months and when I came back the principal told me that he always skip classes, Then that started the shop in my garage with very few tools. I told him if you’re not going to study, you have to have skills for you to be able to make a living.
So I thought him slowly, from small bikes to scooters, to choppers, cafe racers, bobbers etc. — anything that we can lay our hands on just to make a living and keep him off the streets and getting into trouble. God is so good that after a few years, we restored a Lambretta scooter for World Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao and unveiled it on his 32nd birthday — photos are on our website.
After Manny Pacquiao, the shop flourished. An idea then came to me of opening up a school for kids from the poorest of the poor. It was not easy opening a school, besides the funding — so much documentation has to be submitted but God is always on our side providing us with what we need — never late never early.
We opened the Laguna Choppers Institute of Technology Inc four years ago and we now have 27 scholars, some companies and private individuals help for their tuition and I teach them together with my wife. My passion for motorcycles went to a different level — it became an advocacy. We got the attention of History Channel for two consecutive years and we did two custom bikes for the HISTORY-CON MANILA last 2016 and 2017. We also built a bike called the MARAWI HEROES, which was featured at HISTORY-CON II. The bike is a tribute for the fallen soldiers of the war in the south of the Philippines — we will donate the proceeds for the education of the children of all the fallen soldiers of that war. Photos are also in our website.
Our shop does not have high tech tools like CNC and other stuff — everything is hand crafted or pure artistry and craftsmanship. Twenty-four years now and still getting stronger also teaching PWD kids.
About the Bike…
We started this BMW R65 Tracker project a year ago for a hotel and restaurant owner here in San Pablo City, Philippines. The owner wanted to have a bike designed to blend in with the theme of his hotel and restaurant, which is filled with antique wooden houses.
So I decided to put wooden accents on the bike. Levers, suspension covers, fender trims, and the speedo case are all handcrafted hardwood trims, with leather tooling for the seat and copper accents that I made for the brackets and other parts.
I love the R100 tanks so I used it for the project instead of the original R65 tank, which is slimmer. I cut the tank and made it smaller but it still retains the R100 tank contours, so I can hide all the electricals and the battery to make the bike nice and clean with very minimal wire that you can see without sacrificing the beauty of the original R100 tank.
The engine head covers are from an R50 model BMW to give that more classic look that minimizes the straight lines. The engine back cover is fitted with a plastic aftermarket cover that I got from a supplier in UK to make it look slimmer and lighter and highlight the beauty of the boxer engine.
The tank left side is were the fuel goes; the right side of the tank is hollow and that is were we placed all the electricals. We made our own mufflers to give that shorty but chunky look on the drag pipes.
The genuine leather is made by a friend John Perez and an Artist Leather tooler Dragoro Draginzo. The hardwood accents are made by our master wood craftsman Orlando Cosico. My shop chief mechanic Russell Caberos, master mechanic Teotemo Caberos, master metal fabricator Roger Marasigan, lead electrician Noel Purganan, Mechanic II Rusty Dela Cruz, and head painter Ritchie Dela Cruz are the guys who put their talents into building this project. We made an entry in our yearly bike show called the MOTOBUILDS Pilipinas and luckily we got the championship trophy!
Follow the Builder
- Web: www.lagunachoppers.com
- Facebook: @LagunaChoppersOfficial