Modernized Boxer: BMW R65 “La Monolever” by Seb’s Atelier

BMW R65 Restomod

The BMW R65 was the company’s middleweight airhead, built both in twin-shock format (1978-1984) and monolever (1985-1993). While it had the same-sized frame as the larger airheads, many of the supporting components were downsized — swingarm, subframe, forks, front wheel — giving the bike a smaller, lower look and quicker handling. Meanwhile, the 648cc boxer engine made a respectable 44-50 horsepower, propelling the 455-lb machine from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and on through the quarter mile in 14.3.

BMW R65 Restomod

Enter Sebastien Ledis, the 33 year-old founder of Seb’s Atelier — a workshop located in the small village of Fargues Saint Hilaire, near Bordeaux in the southwest of France. Seb spent 15 years as a chef, building bikes for himself, friends, and family before quitting his job to open his workshop a little over a year ago:

“I am happy to live on my passion, trying to do my best and improve my competency for my next projects.”

BMW R65 Restomod

Recently, we featured his Honda CX500 cafe racer — one of ten CX builds he’s done! But Seb doesn’t just work on Japanese machines — he works on anything with a carburetor. This build started life as a 1986 BMW R65, one of the early monolever models, and was built for Seb’s best client, Jean-Christophe (@castellon565), who has a twin-shock sibling of the same bike!

Below, we get the full story on this gorgeous, updated monolever!

BMW R65 “La Monolever” — Builder Interview

BMW R65 Restomod

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

My name is Sebastien Ledis, I am 33 years old. I live in Fargues Saint Hilaire, a small village near to Bordeaux (southwest of France). I opened my workshop a year ago. Before being a builder, I was a chef (15 years) and I used to work in a gastronomic restaurant. I have two passions: cooking and motorcycling.

I’ve had my motorcycle driving license for 13 years. Since I’ve had my license, I’ve owned about 20 motorbikes (Ducati, Suzuki…). I used to ride a Ducati as my principal ride, and an old school modified motorcycle for my leisure and time off (BMW R100 RT cafe racer, Honda CX…).  I am currently working on a DR650 Djebel flat tracker, which I will bring to the next Wheels and Waves Festival.

BMW R65 Restomod

I discovered the cafe racer concept when I went to New Zealand, Australia, and Bali 12 years ago and visited the Deus Ex Machina workshop. When I came back to France, I started to work on my first cafe racer. It was just the beginning of the modified motorcycle trend in France.

After that, I have done motorcycles for my family, my friends and myself — I decided to quit my job and open my workshop. It’s been one year and three months since I’ve opened my workshop. I am happy to live on my passion and trying to do my best and improve my competency for my next projects.

BMW R65 Restomod

When I do a new motorcycle, this one has to be beautiful, surprising, and to be in working order. I am able to work on all the motorcycle models with carburetors — European, Japanese, and American.

• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?


BMW R65 Restomod

• Why was this bike built?

It was built for my best customer, Jean-Christophe (@castellon565). We’ve done four projects together!

BMW R65 Restomod

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

Built to J-C’s specification with “Seb’s Atelier” touches, giving a classic neo-retro style. To have a motorcycle that is snappy, easy and comfortable to ride.

• What custom work was done to the bike?
  • At first, we had to see the engine. It was an old police motorcycle with 97,000 km. Mileage not guaranteed, since it has a five-digit speedometer — maybe 100,000 more!
  • Engine overhaul, pistons rings, engine gasket set, carburetor repair kit, adjust valves, carb synchronization.
  • Lithium battery
  • BMW fork gaiter boot
  • Short muffler, Kevlar exhaust wrap
  • Aviation brake hoses kit, pad, master cylinder
  • New BMW switch controller
  • Renthal handlebar
  • LED lighting
  • LED signal mirrors Highsider
  • Digital speedmeter Koso
  • Shinko E270 tires
  • Fork spring kit
  • Custom build Hagon shock
  • Build subframe
  • Custom seat
  • Epoxy paint on frame in gray
  • Gray and black paint tank with white border
  • New ball bearings on wheels, swinging arm, steering head bearings
• Does the bike have a nickname?

‘’La Monolever.’’

• How would you classify this bike?

There are no specific classifications. I just modernized the bike while keeping its old side.

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

The reassembly of the motorcycle when the imagined takes shape. I am proud of the general aspect of the bike, that Jean-Christophe is left with a little freedom for the achievement, and when he reports to me every time he uses his motorcycle to tell me that people have found it beautiful. The motorcycle is successful.

Follow the Builder

One Comment

  1. Love that BMW

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *