Flying Machine: BMW R80 “Black Wasp”

BMW R80 Custom

For Sale: “Black Wasp” by IronGas x Haute Tension Motorcycles…

The BMW airhead is an icon in the world of motorcycling, an air-cooled flat-twin that’s proven itself all over the world, from the remote terrain of Patagonia to the deserts of the Dakar Rally to the urban centers of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities — it even won the inaugural AMA Superbike World Championship in 1976!

BMW R80 Custom

For Mathieu Locquet of France, who bought his first BMW R80 in 2015, it was love at first ride:

“The balance of the bike and the round, discreet purr of its twin-cylinder literally bewitched me.”

BMW R80 Custom

From then on, he committed himself to customizing these BMW boxers through his workshop, IronGas Motorcycles.

“Today IronGas builds pre-ordered bikes on behalf of its customers. And in recent months we have been exploring another path, the art bike….”

In the tradition of the BMW Art Cars, IronGas partnered with an artist of renown — in this case, metal artist and art restorer Thierry Camus of Haute Tension Motorcycles — to build a 1981 BMW R80 that’s unlike any we’ve ever seen, the “Black Wasp.” Whereas most art cars receive mainly an exterior treatment of graphics/paint/livery, this BMW was fully transformed through Thierry’s incredible metalwork.

The most striking element has to be the custom aluminum gas tank built from a pair of Chevy V8 valve covers, complete with a set of reworked 1950s Moon spinner gas caps! The bike has a wealth of other custom-made parts, including the handlebars, fenders, exhaust, saddle, and more; and most everything in the bike has been replaced, polished, painted, adjusted, or otherwise transformed. There’s even an aluminum plate affixed to the swingarm with the names of the people who participated in the project.

BMW R80 Custom

IronGas Motorcycles is actually selling the “Black Wasp,” offering worldwide delivery, a three-month warranty, and photos of the entire process of the transformation. Price TBD. You can learn more here.

Below, we get the full story on the “Black Wasp,” and more photos from Gil Lanzy.

BMW R80 Custom: Builder Interview

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

In the spring 2015, Mathieu stumbled upon a listing for a BMW R80 in search of a new owner. From the first kilometers they traveled together, it was love at first sight!

“The balance of the bike and the round, discreet purr of its twin-cylinder literally bewitched me.”

Everything became a pretext for riding this BMW. “It was this simple and instant joy that made me want to embark on the customization of these German machines.”

Today Irongas builds pre-ordered bikes on behalf of its customers. And in recent months we have been exploring another path, the art bike….

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

BMW R80, 1981.

• Why was this bike built?

 We will want to offer something different with a BMW base. We wanted to mix art and pleasure. In addition, we wanted to promote the company with this model.

BMW Black Wasp

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

Thierry Camus is very influenced by the world of insects.

• What custom work was done to the bike?

Polishing: Engine block, crankcases, air box, rocker covers, fork sleeves, bridge, lower yoke, rims, pegs, pedals, carburetors, calipers, gearbox, throttle grip.

Epoxy paint: Frame, swingarm, timing cover, cylinders and cylinder heads, lower trigger guard, rims.

Custom aluminum tank (made from Chevrolet V8 covers)
Reworked Moon petrol caps
Custom exhausts with side and under-seat heat shields
Custom-made gooseneck handlebars
Custom-made saddle
Beringer brake and clutch
Replacement pistons, valves, and rings
New throttle
Motogadget M-Unit electrical system
All the electricals have been redone
New starter
Long range headlights
Headlight brackets with modification of the top yoke
Lowered fork
Side stand modification
Tires and tubes
Changed the seals and adjusted the carburetors with ultrasonic passage
Drained the engine, gearbox, axle, shaft, forks
Rod bearings
Bearing bushings
Crankshaft bearing
Crankshaft side shims
New shock absorbers
Oil seal out of box
Fork spinnaker with brass dust cover
Throttle and clutch cables
Replacement of brake caliper pistons and seals
All engine gaskets
Brake discs and pads
Aviation brake hoses
New petrol hoses
Creation of tailor-made front and rear mudguards
Installation of a custom sleeper
License plate support and offset lighting
Vintage license plate (not visible on the photo)
Aluminum fork and steering nuts
New lithium battery
Custom battery holder
Valve clearance adjustment
Brake fluid and bleeding
Lubrication and control of steering bearings
Lubrication and tension of all cables
Motogadget speedometer
Motogadget T&T tachometer
Motogadget grips
Key switch
Replacing the fork tubes
Charge indicator
Bridge controls
Faucets with fuel filters
New candles Fork boots
Front turn signals
Kellermann 3 in 1 rear turn signals
NGK plugs
Brass or stainless steel screws
Neutral and oil pressure switches

The list goes on and on….

There’s also an aluminum plate fixed to the swing arm, with the people who participated in the project.

• Does the bike have a nickname?

“Black Wasp.”

BMW Black Wasp

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?

It is an extremely light and very maneuverable motorcycle. It’s a flying machine!

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

We are extremely proud of the work done around the gas tank.

BMW Black Wasp

Follow the Builders

IronGas Motorcycles
Instagram: @irongas06
Facebook: Irongas

Haute Tension Motorcycles
Instagram: @hautetensionmotorcycles
Facebook: Haute Tension Motorcycles

Photos: Gil Lanzy


  1. …..gosh…..i can happy knowing at least a couple ‘o dudes can conceive and build pipes in this century…..

  2. As I continue to look at these wonderful works of art over and over again, there is never any mention what level of performance these WOA’s are really offering!! How much weight has been lopped off of this Beemer? Is the weight loss the only “performance ” gain in this whole project besides the obvious eye candy appeal? The Mach IV is an obvious modified , performance wise, motorcycle . But most of the others simply look stock with a new look! Do these things really run that much better than stockers? If they look this good and run only slightly better than stockers, park them in the living room!!

  3. Wow! Amazing job. That fuel tank is stunning. Who came up with such a unique idea? I love the brass accents. What a great name (wasp) for a machine that looks angry & ready to sting.

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