BUC It: Burn Up Company’s burly BMW, built for sidecar adventures…
In the mid-1980s, BMW replaced the twin-shock rear suspension on their airhead models with a monolever (single-shock) system, whose asymmetric design was meant to counter the torqueing effects of the shaft-drive. Under hard acceleration, the rear ends of shaft-drive motorcycles tend to rise — an effect of the pinion gear at the end of the driveshaft trying to “climb” the teeth of the final drive. That can be a problem during cornering:
“If you suddenly chop the throttle in the middle of a way-leaned-over turn, the chassis drops, which can result in hard parts of the bike touching ground — a real laundry moment for the inexperienced. If you are aware of the jacking effect, this isn’t an issue (i.e., you know not to chop the throttle in mid-turn!).” —BMWMOA.org
While some BMW diehards lamented the loss of the twin-shock, most agreed that the new design did improve the handling of the bikes. For our friends at Florida’s Burn Up Company, the 1986 BMW R80RT you see here was the first Monolever project they agreed to take on. The donor was brought to them in stock touring trim from woodworker and truck enthusiast Mr. James Pease, who proposed a blacked-out Rhino Liner paint scheme — not the bold fashion statement you might think:
“This bike was conceptualized for fitment with a sidecar, as Mr. Pease and his wife are accustomed to taking their Ural rig onto rural trails while on long camping trips, so this was a 100% utilitarian decision, and not influenced by a fashionable bent.” –Vincent Conti, Burn Up Company
The Burn Up crew opted for a French Vonzeti subframe and seat, designed to work with the Monolever suspension/driveshaft, and they swapped out the bulky airbox, and they worked to scale down most of the bike’s details such as the fenders, pegs, mirrors, and controls. A MotoGadget M-Unit system replaces the stock wiring harness.
Below, we get the full story from Vincent Conti of Burn Up Company, who also shot the gorgeous photos you see here.
BMW R80RT: Build Story
Written by Vincent Conti (@Vincent.anthony.conti).
This is a 1986 BMW R80RT custom built by Burn Up Company. The production year is relevant because at the time of taking it in, this was the very first “monolever”-era BMW that we had accepted for a long-term build.
When the owner, Mr. Fred Pease, brought the stock R80 to the shop, it was fully loaded with original RT touring gear — as seen in the images.
Mr. Pease also brought a wealth of concepts. The most unique idea stood out immediately: a Rhino Liner paint job. Being a woodworker and a pickup truck enthusiast, it’s not a stretch to imagine where this idea stemmed from. A general “black out” theme was then applied to the remainder of the bike’s components. What should be noted is that this bike was conceptualized for fitment with a sidecar, as Mr. Pease and his wife are accustomed to taking their Ural rig onto rural trails while on long camping trips, so this was a 100% utilitarian decision, and not influenced by a fashionable bent.
The issue of building a semi-scrambler, semi-brat chassis around a monolever was solved by sourcing a Vonzeti subframe and seat from France. This kit is designed around the asymmetrical nature of the single-sided swing arm / shaft drive engineering of the model, as the frame stays curving inward to allow space for a single oversized rear shock. The bulky 1980’s airbox was removed and replaced by a “fastback” cover, which emulates the silhouette of earlier aluminum-boxed models. The Bing CV carburetors now breath through pod filters.
The exhaust crossover pipe was deleted by use of a “sport header” kit, and the pipes were heat wrapped and fit with a pair of shorty mufflers. Both the front and rear fenders have been abbreviated and custom-mounted — the front by way of an aftermarket fork brace, and the rear floating above the oversized knobby tires on a handmade mounting bracket.
All of the bike’s electrics have been modernized. The amber headlamp has a smaller bucket and scrambler-esque grill. The turn signals and dual taillight are extremely low-profile LED units mounted beneath the seat via custom brackets and at either bar end.
The bike was rewired with a MotoGadget M-Unit system, including the low-profile control switches mounted to the increased diameter 7/8” cross-braced handlebars. A handlebar-mounted LED screen replaces all gauges and rider indicator lights.
The size-reduction motif can be found throughout the build: the driver and passenger foot pegs, license tag mounted to the final drive / suspension bolt, the header clamps have a reduced diameter and tooth size, and the mirrors are reduced in size but still functionally large. The under-tank front brake master cylinders on the BMW’s are prone to leaks and failures, so the reservoir has been relocated to the bars. This created room for the new rectifier/regulator to hide beneath the fuel tank in its stead.
One detail that begs particular attention is the “BUC” logo on the fork lowers — these “reflector deletes” were custom-designed, CNC’d, and painted by Julien Garces (@julencreativo) from Miami, Florida.
Follow the Builder
Bike Owner: Fred Pease
Bike Builder: Burn Up Company (@burnupcompany)
Photos and Write-up: Vincent Conti (@Vincent.anthony.conti)
Rider in images: Jesse Baumann (@jessescottbaumann)
Completely hideous – a waste of a very ordinary motorcycle as well as a fair amount in time and money.
Probably be for sale on Craigslist in two or three years with an “only 200 miles since the modifications were done,” just like every other hacked-up POS after the owners discover how uncomfortable and poorly performing they’ve made their motorcycles. Removing the reflectors mean it won’t pass inspection in several states. “Abbreviated” foot pegs ought to be interesting. Chopped fenders allow grit/gravels/etc. to be flung up (and this will be ridden on trails, so there’ll be plenty to fling). In the entire history of little pod air filters’ existence, they’ve failed to hurt the power curve of the motorcycles they were installed on exactly zero times. Deleting the exhaust crossover likely further harmed performance at low and moderate RPM, so expect the thing to be running WFO – and through lots mufflers – the few times the owners try riding it. Speaking of the mufflers, I wonder if they have the flame arrestors that are basically a requirement for trail riding? Placing extra stress on a key suspension bolt. Et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. . . .